Citizens challenge HST across the Boundary Similkameen riding

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
November 5th, 2009

The fight against harmonized sales tax (HST) has some unusual bedfellows including ex-premier Bill Vander Zalm, but the fight, they say, isn’t political. Paul McCavour, of Osoyoos, wants people to know that they are being lied to by the politicians. The way to fight a lie, says McCavour, is to petition for a referendum.

“That’s why people don’t vote – because they realize there is nothing they can do. Governments know this,” says McCavour.  “Basically the view on government is: I don’t want to be involved because I think it’s political. Truth and justice is not political. Truth and justice is democracy.”

McCavour, and the Fight HST movement, is saying that the government is telling people that the HST is good for them. And that, McCavour says, is the lie. “You know what, I don’t even know if the HST is good or bad. But I know a lie is bad, and you can’t build anything on a lie.”

Members of the Grand Forks Seniors Branch were encouraged by McCavour to stand up and help fight the proposed tax system when he presented to them on Oct. 29. The province wide initiative has over 1900 volunteers already in place and McCavour is touring his riding, Boundary Similkameen, to mobilize enough voluteers to successfully launch a petition drive. He asked the group to sign up volunteers to do the petition, and provide a place for people to come and sign the petition.

McCavour has volunteers ready to go in Oliver, Greenwood and now Grand Forks. The petition could slow the implementation of the HST, and ultimately will give voters a say on the process. As a non-political person, McCavour’s goal is just that – to give the people of B.C. a choice.

“As soon as I was done (with my presentation) in Oliver they said we have volunteers, we’ll give you the hall without cost and we’ll put some money in for ads in the paper. That’s democracy in action,” says McCavour. “People have a choice – they come and sign the petition,and say:  I’m defeating the HST; if I choose not to sign the petition, the HST will come in. But at least you’ve got a choice.”

According to McCavour, estimates show that a family of four will pay an average of over $2,100 in new taxes under the HST, even after rebates and exemptions.

The provincial government information about the new tax system advises that there will be cost savings to consumers. The province’s HST website states: “Right now, provincial sales tax (PST) is paid by every business at every step in the creation of a consumer product. You may not realize it, but the PST is charged multiple times during the production of a product before it reaches the store. Every business involved in the creation of a product pays the PST on almost all of the things they buy to carry on their business… and the cost of that embedded PST is passed on to you, the consumer. Under the proposed Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) most taxes paid on business inputs are refunded to the business, and those savings can be passed on to consumers.”

But McCavour is skeptical. “It’s supposed to be revenue neutral. But my position is that we want a voice. We don’t accept the lie. Give us a voice, give us a referendum. The government might win, but at least we’ve had our say.”

The HST was Introduced by the provincial government earlier this year and is expected to be in place by July 1, 2010. In September, Vander Zalm started a movement to fight the proposed tax. The drive is to get 10 per cent of the voters to sign a formal petition to stop the HST. Once successful, the petition is submitted to a legislative standing committee that will decide if the petition is enacted or call a province-wide initiative vote requiring a 50 per cent voter approval – essentially a referendum.

” This is something we have to work out ourselves because no one is going to do it for us,” said McCavour. “You hear so many people say they don’t want to get involved. But if you’re not involved, you can’t change anything.”

Categories: Politics