Is there enough space for an elephant and an HST referendum in one room?


I know this may make me sound crazy, but did Gordon Campbell actually get it right? Is HST and the bonus money from the federal government actually what BC needs? No question  about it, no one likes paying tax. It should also be stated that I am not a Liberal booster. I am simply looking at all the facts in front of me and providing my personal evaluation.

Before we answer the question of what we do not want, let’s look at what we do want. We want our children to be educated, we want our families’ medical needs to be looked after, and we want to see the expansion of infrastructure such as rapid transit systems and our road networks, just to name a few items on the people of BC’s government spending wish list.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a person who will disagree with the latter statement. Last time I checked British Columbia does not exist in a vacuum. There are costs for us to live in this beautiful province and those costs come as taxes. Education and Healthcare expenses are and forever will be relentlessly on the rise, and groups like TransLink are and will continue to constantly look for funds, with few avenues available to raise those funds. I will not even open the special interest can of worms which has recently been decimated through government cut backs as a result of the tough world economic conditions.

As was illustrated in my last blog The Secrets of the HST – As they say the devils are in the details, HST is a combination of GST and PST, and in most cases, there is no change from what you were paying before. Or (as I pointed out in the article) in the case of real estate you must purchase a home under $525,000 to get a full rebate and not pay the extra provincial portion of the tax. Yes, there are more items that now fall under the HST umbrella, but HST is essentially a consumption tax. I am well aware that many items deemed necessities and exempt under the former PST tax system are now being taxed the addition of 7% of the HST. I do not agree with this practice, however, it is now in place. But don’t forget that the province was bribed with 1.6 billion dollars to accept these difficult changes… This brings me to my next point, which is pretty much the elephant in the room of this discussion. If we do repeal the HST, then what is next for BC?

How do we put the proverbial genie back in the bottle? How do we pay back the 1.6 billion to the federal government? Would the provincial government continue to cut spending to make it up? Take on more debt to be paid back with interest some other, magical way by future generations? Or, should the government just come up with some other tax to pay for this one because, like it or not, the only way a government is funded is through our taxes? This is a really big question that not many people are asking. It’s not likely the Feds are just going to take care of this one the way a good friend takes care of the bill at lunch.

The whole course of action so far is no doubt aggravating for us all. But next time you are looking at making a major purchase, like, say a big screen TV or a new sofa, you will get the comfort of knowing that you will be contributing to the great social fabric of British Columbia!

2 thoughts on “Is there enough space for an elephant and an HST referendum in one room?

  1. Very well written Greg. I find too often it is easier to poke holes in an initiative rather than put forth a counter proposal. There are so many services we as a people demand with very little thought given to how we will actually pay for them.

    I find it particularly amazing how seemingly educated people can be against both increased taxes and cuts to services. It seems the residents of our fine province want to have the cake, eat it but have someone else pay for it. It is refreshing to read a perspective such as yours which is actually looking at all the facts.

  2. Greg:
    This post on the HST is one of the most sensible pieces I’ve seen.
    Though it is always legitimate to have vigorous public debate on what taxes should be collected and what those taxes should be spent on, I’m a tad fed up with the “don’t want to pay taxes but want lots of government services” crowd…(or is it a mob?)

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