The perils of policy-making by referendum
British Columbians have voted to scrap the province’s controversial harmonized sales tax, according to the results of a binding, province-wide referendum.
Elections B.C. announced on Friday morning that 54.73 per cent of the 1.6 million British Columbians who cast a ballot in the mail-in referendum voted to get rid of the tax and 45.27 per cent voted to keep it.
B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said the government will now move to reinstate the PST with all of its previous exemptions. The transition is expected to take at least 18 months he said. …
“This is step backwards, but it is a manageable step backwards,” said Falcon after the results of the referendum were announced on Friday.
The province will enter into negotiations with the federal government on repaying the $1.6 billion it was given when the tax came into effect, he said.
Well, it wasn’t unexpected — it was a slap at how it was done. It’s a wonder the tax got up to 45% support, given that it had 85% opposition when the campaign began.
On the other hand, this is nonsensical:
The office of Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the federal government will work with B.C. to roll back the tax, which has been administered by the officials in Ottawa.
“We respect the decision made by the people of British Columbia. We will work with the Government of B.C. on the transition. The provincial government has already repeatedly acknowledged that the $1.6 billion in transitional assistance will be recovered as per the agreement,” said a statement issued by Flaherty’s office.
But federal NDP MPs are already calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to forgive the debt.
“It would be both spiteful and damaging for Harper to now force B.C. to pay back $1.6 billion, after it was already invested in things like health care and education,” said NDP B.C. caucus chair Don Davies.
No, it’d be idiotic to allow the province to keep the money after reneging on the deal.
Anyway, I’d've preferred to keep the HST, if I lived in BC. But then, I do enjoy watching politicians get slapped around, and so that’s not a bad conclusion either.