B.C. Liberal claim of neutrality on HST is ludicrous

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VANCOUVER – The B.C. Liberal claim of neutrality on the HST, with the launch of a multi-million-dollar ad campaign, is simply ludicrous and wasteful, say the New Democrats.

“No one in this province believes the B.C. Liberals are neutral when it comes to the HST,” said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston. “But it isn't stopping them from blowing nearly $7 million of public funds trying to deceive voters.”

During Thursday's launch of a TV, radio and print advertising campaign starring a stick person, B.C. Liberal Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said “I want to be clear about something, this is not going to be a persuasion campaign.”

The $7 million government HST campaign includes the ads that have a sole purpose of drawing voters toward the government's HST website.

“The stick person is made up of seven lines and a circle – that's $1 million of taxpayers' money for each line, but I suppose it's a deal because you get the circle for free,” said Ralston. “Even worse than the waste is that the website itself is carefully-crafted HST propaganda that fails to masquerade itself as unbiased.”

Ralston said page after page is designed in such a way to deceive people into thinking the HST is good for them.

“For example, the 'seniors' page lists items that seniors use that didn't increase under the HST, but leaves out the items such as dietary supplements, alternative medicine, fitness memberships, and prepared foods that jumped up seven per cent with the tax shift,” said Ralston. “The page is implying everything they pay for has either stayed the same or became cheaper, and that is absolutely false.”

Ralston said another example of a pro-HST bias on the site includes the inclusion of indirect benefits – as the B.C. Liberals see them – but an omission of the indirect drawbacks, such as items and services that will increase in cost due to embedded costs that won't be reimbursed.

“Landlords will have to pay more for renovations, repairs and assessments and they'll have to make up for those expenses,” said Ralston. “The only way to do that is to maximize rent increases.”

Ralston also said that kids and adult sport fees have increased due to facility and field rentals becoming more expensive under the HST.

“Sports associations had no choice but to increase player fees, and this info was conveniently left off the site.”

Ralston also said the site quotes a report the B.C. Liberal government paid for, written by their own hand-picked panelists, while failing to mention the report completely contradicts info from other government-funded reports.

“The B.C. Liberals lost all credibility when it comes to the HST as soon as they implemented the tax shift after promising not to before the election,” said Ralston. “If they wanted to be upfront and honest with British Columbian families and small businesses who bear the brunt of the HST, they would first admit they lied to voters.

“Saying 'we could have done it better' is not an admission of deception.”

Adrian Dix and the B.C. New Democrats are committed to making life better and more affordable for families by investing in healthcare, education, and other vital services.