Carole James: Say it ain't so!
NDP leader Carole James was so quiet for so long, many of her own supporters wondered where she was all summer. With the HST and the Liberals imploding, it would have been a great time for the wanna-be Premier to show her stuff, to take the lead, to convince British Columbians she’s no wasteful socialist extremist.
Then she spoke.
James is quoted in The Vancouver Sun Sept. 16 as saying if the HST referendum throws the tax out, HST taxes already collected would have to be rebated.
Maybe she should have stayed silent.
What a disaster that would be! Tax rebates to cover HST taxes collected over the past two years? Enough to practically bankrupt B.C.
Remember, the HST replaced the PST, so would we then all have to pay the PST portion on goods that formerly required it? And how would the government know who deserves what portion of any rebate: if I have spent half of what a neighbour spent in the time preceding the vote, do I really deserve the same rebate? Not really, if we want to be honest. How would the government calculate who spent what? Or would they just not care about being fair? Just a big payoff to voters?
Or maybe the NDP would just give the rebates to businesses, which are much better at keeping purchase records than we ordinary mortals? Not in a thousand years.
“You could do it with tax credits, you could do it with a rebate, like Ontario did, but they have an obligation to live up to what the public said when they signed that initiative,” James explained.
Not really. The petition was NOT a referendum; it was not an official vote. It WAS an expression of disapproval and even anger at both the tax and probably MORE at Gordon Campbell, Colin Hansen and the way the Liberals brought it in. But even I, one of those who signed the petition couldn’t honestly regard it as an official expression by the majorityof people in the province or even the greater numbers who might turn up at actual polling stations required for an official vote that offers a chance to approve the HST, not just vote against it.
Getting rid of the HST, if the public votes to do that, should be done in way that is orderly, reasonable, least disruptive, and least costly (to B.C. Give Ottawa notice of BC’s intent to withdraw from the agreement, and then do it in a manner that will not destroy BC’s finances and economy. Ie: keep that $1.6 billion we will have received; give businesses a reasonable notice of what changes will come after the HST is withdrawn and time to adjust (including purchasing all kinds of equipment before any shift back so they expand their businesses …and get all those new jobs we were promised); the only immediate change should be to remove the HST from restaurant services, which have been badly hit.
But the only rebate that should be offered is IF collections from the HST exceeded the supposed “neutrality” of the tax shift by a substantial amount: otherwise just put any “extra” already collected in education, health, community services, where it could really be used!
What really scares me about James’ suggestion that everyone should get tax rebates is that it’s no better than what I expect Campbell will do: try to win votes/bribe people with their own money.
From Carole James and the “improved” NDP, we should be able to expect better.
This column originally appeared in Mr. Oberfeld’s blog, Keeping it Real. Reprinted with his kind permission.