Monday, May 31, 2010

Fight HST citizens Initiative petition reaches 10% minimum in all 85 BC ridings! Over 600,000 voters say No to HST!

Fight HST citizen Initiative petition has obtained 10% of voter signatures needed in each of BC's 85 ridings

I am very pleased to pass on this exciting news - what some commentators said was absolutely impossible has been achieved - and with over a month left to go in the Fight HST citizens Initiative campaign!

More than 600,000 British Columbians have signed the Fight HST petition.

When I first proposed an Initiative campaign in a 24 hours/The Tyee column back on August 18 of 2009 to stop the Harmonized Sales Tax announced by the BC Liberal government just the month before, I knew the odds could be daunting against success.

But I also knew that this was a "Field of Dreams" type situation - if you build it, they will come.

And that's exactly what British Columbians of all political persuasions - and none - have done. This is the most grassroots, shoestrings, low-budget campaign I have ever been involved with - and the results are incredibly gratifying.

It started with my Facebook protest group NO BC HST - now the second largest Facebook group in BC, behind only the Vancouver Canucks, with over 126,000 members. And then it simply took off into the stratosphere, despite all odds and most predictions.

Congratulations are due to former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm first and foremost. His determination and energy are what has made Fight HST so successful from the beginning.

Lead Organizer Chris Delaney has done an outstanding job as well, ensuring that this campaign stayed on track from the beginning and keeping folks from very different political backgrounds all aiming at the same target - the HST.

Our secret weapon has been Provincial Organizer Cheryl Baron - who has whipped the horses and kept all our Regional Organizers, Riding Captains and even Provincial Strategy Team in line from the beginning. Cheryl has been incredible.

Add in fundraising and organizing genius Sal Vetro, website coordinator Rainer Schmoll, Regional Coordinators Brad Slade and Chad Moats and literally more than 7,000 dedicated British Columbians who volunteered as canvassers and in other roles and you have an unbelievable Fight HST team!

Here then is an historic news release from Fight HST - thanks for your support and keep getting those signatures - the HST can be beaten!

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News Release

Monday, May 31, 2010

Fight HST petition reaches 10% requirement in all 85 ridings

600,000 signatures province-wide, 71 ridings pass 15% or greater threshold, including Vancouver Quilchena.

Vander Zalm calls on Premier Campbell to conduct a “free vote” to repeal HST

Port Coquitlam – Fight HST lead organizer, Chris Delaney, says the petition to repeal the HST broke 600,000 signatures province wide this past weekend, and crossed the 10% minimum signature threshold in all 85 electoral districts. He says 71 ridings have hit 15% or better, including Finance Minister Hansen's own riding of Vancouver Quilchena.

Delaney says organizers are on track to achieve 15% or more signatures in the remaining 14 ridings by the end of next week. “This report represents only 70 of 85 ridings, with a number of ridings not reporting this week, and others still tabulating results from the weekend. We should make our internal 15% target in all ridings by the first or second week of June.”

Fight HST leader, Bill Vander Zalm, is urging Premier Gordon Campbell to conduct a free and open vote to repeal the HST when the petition Bill is presented to the legislature later this fall.

“We are calling on Premier Campbell to allow his MLAs to vote according to their constituent’s wishes to repeal the HST. With so many Liberals in weak ridings where they are certain to be Recalled if they vote against the petition, it is only fair to allow them the chance to save their political careers,” said Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm said that the Initiative Act was designed to reflect public opinion on issues of major importance to British Columbians. Not allowing MLAs to vote in support of their constituents wishes would be completely contrary to the spirit of the legislation.

“When Premier Campbell was first elected in 2001, he put out a paper stating he would overhaul the Recall and Initiative Act to make it more workable. He also committed himself to the concepts of direct democracy, transparency, and greater accountability to voters. In fact, he said repeatedly that his government would be the most transparent and accountable in the history of BC,” said Vander Zalm.

“Many people do not believe him anymore. They think he deliberately deceived people just to get their votes, since he never followed up on any of those promises.”

Vander Zalm points out that the premier’s recent comments regarding the HST petition have sent conflicting signals.

“He has admitted he now knows that British Columbians oppose his tax. He has agreed to allow the process to go forward, and to abide by the Initiative Act. This gives the impression that he’s going to listen to the people. But he recently told his friends in big business he will deliver on his promise to transfer the entire sales tax burden from them to consumers. He can’t have it both ways.”

Vander Zalm says such promises to business beg the question, “Who does the premier answer to? The three million registered voters of BC, or a handful or wealthy businessmen who finance his Liberal party?”

“The Fight HST petition, with over 600,000 signatures from all 85 ridings, is Premier Campbell’s chance to show the people he wasn’t lying. It’s his chance to show he really does believe in democratic accountability and listening to voters. He can do that by cancelling the HST now, or at least allowing his MLAs a free vote,” Vander Zalm concluded.


Gary E said...

As a canvasser Bill, let me add that we shouldn't sit back on our butts now. There is still a lot of work to do in places that are hard to access.
We need to show Campbell that the 85 or 90% in the polls are out there to put their names to this.

Canadian History is being right here in Beautiful British Columbia.

Norman Farrell said...

Bill, your petition has caused a meltdown in at least one Victoria ministry. Colin Hansen made an effort to defend against the "misinformation" spreaders on the Globe and Mail's website. He failed and it was not pretty. Perhaps a career selling flags seems more appealing.

I did a little deconstruction here:

Bernard von Schulmann said...

As much as I like the HST, you guys have won. You all deserve credit for achieving what people have said for years was impossible.

Congrats to you and the rest of the team.

Anonymous said...

So Bill Tieleman started it, and the attraction ends up being Bill VanderZalm.

What's wrong with that picture? Where was the NDP (other than being on the street being canvassers?) They really messed up an opportunity.

If the BC Liberals don't repeal the HST, then it will be up to the NDP to do that. The HST will be on their side of the rink, and they'll have to stickhandle it, to send it over the glass and into the crowd.

pip said...

Just imagine if could do the same to fight Hunger in Canada?

Norman Farrell said...

Hey Bernard. The issue is not merely HST, the consumption tax. Some of us object to making the tax system ever more regressive and, even more, the dishonesty involved in establishing a major tax change with no public consultation.

Campbell's Liberals are willing to submit certain subjects to a public process but not others. They should accept the principle and apply it universally, not merely for the subjects of little import.

Anonymous said...

And it looks like the groundwork is being laid for successful recall campaigns in at least a few ridings.

I am still not convinced fighting all taxes at all times is a 'good' idea, but putting an end to BC's largest ever tax shift from corporations onto citizens is definitely laudable.

I never thought I'd say this, but ...
way to go Bill Vander Zalm!

Anonymous said...

"And it looks like the groundwork is being laid for successful recall campaigns in at least a few ridings. "

Well maybe. The recall groups will have to start right at the beginning, they CANNOT use the petitions obtained for the anti-HST.

Only one recall got close to starting, and it's very difficult to get 40% of the people in one riding to agree to recall. If they did, the MLA being recalled can still run in the by-election.

Anonymous said...

Huge vote of thanks Bill - and a tip of the hat for that other 'Bill' too.


James King,

Kim said...

Anon, 11:44 I think we all realize that's taxation is a good thing, when applied fairly it provides us with the social progress that we all aspire to. This tax is regressive and illegal (in that it is taxation without representation, giving away to the Fed our ability to adjust the tax or scrap it.)

DPL said...

Anon 1.43 mentions the issue of numbers needed for a recall, but lots of people said nobody could get 10 percent in every riding. There are a few Liberals in position by a limited amount of votes. Heck in one Ministers riding the numbers collected so far is huge. Never say never.
The volunteers working so far must be congratulated for doing the seemingly impossible. The rantings of Gordo and Hansen certainly brings in more signatures.Keep talking Gordo and the folks will continue to line up. They are angry and don't like being lied to.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1.43 mentions the issue of numbers needed for a recall, but lots of people said nobody could get 10 percent in every riding. There are a few Liberals in position by a limited amount of votes. Heck in one Ministers riding the numbers collected so far is huge. Never say never.

Mathematically it is easier to get 10% in a riding, than 40%.

But given the success of this is
unprecendented, but it is VanderZalm rather than the NDP that is running this show.

One wonders how this effort would have played out for the NDP in last year's election.

Anonymous said...

Reading through Hansen's G&M q&a

10:04 Colin Hansen: "I have never said it will be revenue neutral _ another on of the myths! I have pointed out that we will collect about the same $ under HST as we collect under PST

So... What does "revenue neutral" mean to you?


10:07 [Comment From Rick] "...releasing publicly the full details and dates of correspondence between your ministry and the feds on this issue..."

10:08 Colin Hansen: "This info has already come out thro FOI".

10:12 Justine Hunter: "Mr. Hansen - The correspondence you referenced that came out through freedom of information was largely blanked out. It's not the same as the 'full details' that Rick had asked for. A number of media outlets - including The Globe and Mail - have been trying to get more detail through another freedom of information request for many months. Why not release the information?"


No questions or comments on how the BC Liberals 'hid' the ballooning deficit for the election month - how convenient.

Anonymous said...

Call me paranoid, but I am. Vaughn Palmer had an interesting post on his blog this morning where he basically repeated what the Gordonator said yesterday in QP. Needless to say, he didn't look so good. Now it appears that Palmer's blog isn't available online.

Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.

Gary E said...

Thanks for that Bernard. I know how much you like this Grab. But I agree with Norman that it was wrong to shove this down our throats.
To others here, this tax is constitutionally wrong. BC has the right to sollect taxes within their borders for their provincial programs. I have not seen a Constitutional Amendment taking away this right.
For others wondering about the 40% for recall. It is 40% signed in 60 days. For the purposes of the HST that number is symbolic in that, Theoretically, if a riding were to reach that goal in the HST they could show the MLA in that riding that it is possible to get the same numbers in a Recall vote. And from the number of past liberal supporters I have encountered that will be very possible in my riding. Which by the way was the first to go over the 40% number. With still 4 days to go.

Anonymous said...

and if any one is complaing about the outcome of the petition, which is the HST will still be here, and that bill will not nessesarily be introuced into the legislature, blame the NDP. They brought in the referendum and initiative legislation.

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