Friday, June 11, 2010

BC Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom resigns from BC Liberal caucus over HST!

"My decision to resign from Cabinet and the BC Liberal Caucus was very difficult, but I fundamentally disagree with the direction our government is headed on the HST."

- Blair Lekstrom


Shocking news this morning - BC Liberal MLA Blair Lekstrom has resigned from the BC Liberal caucus and his cabinet position as Energy Minister over his opposition to the government's ongoing imposition of the new Harmonized Sales Tax - the HST.


The 12% HST will add 7% to hundreds of goods and services that previously were only subject to the 5% GST - shifting $2 billion in taxes from business to consumers and sparking a province-wide campaign to stop the tax - Fight HST - led by former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm.


The Fight HST citizens Initiative petition has over 620,000 signatures and has reached both the 10% legal requirement for Elections BC to approve the petition and an additional 5% buffer to cover any possible disallowed signatures.

Lekstrom sent a letter of resignation to Premier Gordon Campbell this morning that states:

"Today I submitted to the Premier my formal resignation from the Cabinet position of Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and I informed him that I would no longer be able to serve as a member of the BC Liberal Caucus."

"I will continue my duties as MLA for Peace River South."

"It is clear to me that the residents of Peace River South are opposed to the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and are unhappy with the way in which our government moved forward with this policy,"

"The people of my riding face additional challenges as a border community."

"I recognize and admit that I supported the HST when our government made the decision to move forward with it last summer. And, as a member of Caucus and Cabinet, I can confirm that the HST was not contemplated before the May 2009 election."

"This is not about being right or wrong; in fact, I firmly believe that government is making a decision they believe will help the province, but as we have been unable to bring the public along, I acknowledge there is a need to re-evaluate this decision. "

"My decision to resign from Cabinet and the BC Liberal Caucus was very difficult, but I fundamentally disagree with the direction our government is headed on the HST."

"When I was elected, I promised myself, my family and my constituents that I would not change who I am to do this job, and I have reached a point where my beliefs and values no longer align with my government."

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett has been appointed to replace Lekstrom as energy minister in place of Lekstrom.

Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart has been appointed minister of community and rural development in place of Bennett, and Vancouver-False Creek MLA Mary McNeil becomes minister of citizen services.


UPDATE 10:50 a.m.

The Canadian Press and other media are reporting on news conferences by both Lekstrom and Campbell this morning.

Said Lekstrom: "It was a tough decision but it had to be made. Fundamentally, the HST is it.The people I represent say we want to talk to you about this, we want you to put the brakes on the HST.

"I ran on who I was. The people I represent say we think you should be talking to us."

"We've done, I think, a tremendous amount of work for this province but the HST issue is one that you know, we made with the best of intentions, and I think to me a clear example of it was an idea
by government that forgot to bring the public along with that idea."

"It's been a challenge."

"It's probably one of the most difficult decisions I've made. Not so much, honestly, about myself but about the impact this will have on my colleagues."

"My priority is to listen to the public and that's my view on why I as elected and I'm going to follow through on that." Campbell was clearly surprised by Lekstrom's resignation.

"I wasn't expecting this one."

"I respect his position. I understand it but....we clearly disagree."


Campbell said Lekstrom informed him Wednesday that he might quit.

Campbell told him to think about it but Lekstrom tendered his resignation Friday morning.


"We had to do what was right, not what was popular."

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good for him. Too bad he had to be forced to represent his constituents. Would have been nice if he'd done it before he raised his hand to vote. Oh well. Better late than never. One down - 6 to go! Wonder how the Premier will try to spin it this morning?

Anonymous said...

so what does hansen have to say about that?Man this leckstrom dude is a little late he just sold 2
generations of BCer's out and he thinks he's doing an honorable deed,this puke is playing a numbers game and setting himself up to be re-elected instead of being re-called I can see right through the cable guy,go to hell leckstrom.

peter kelly said...

He should have told Campbell to shove his HST the moment it was introduced. Instead, he supported it. Lekstrom saw the polling numbers and figured that he had a better chance at protecting his rear end by quitting the party and being independent...maybe he'll be the first sitting BC Conservative MLA.

Anonymous said...

This can't have been an easy decision for him, and it will have significant financial impacts for him and his family. Not only does he lose his cabinet minister salary ($40,000 a year) and associated pension room, he loses all hope of chairing committees as a backbencher. Mr. Lekstrom, in the past, chaired both the finance committee and FOIPPA committee, each providing him an additional $10,000 a year. With no guarantee of re-election in a difficult right-leaning riding (Lekstrom seems to an odd fit as his politics seem to make him a federal liberal), he could easily stayed on built up his pension room until the conclusion of recall campaign.
His decision to resign - both from cabinet and caucus - while simultaneously endorsing the HST, speaks volumes about Mr. Lekstrom's character and ethics. We need more Blair Lekstroms in office.

Anonymous said...

This is just the beginning for the BC Liberals. One down and six more to go. So like, whose next?

John Twigg said...

The idea of hoisting the HST pending a public policy process is a good one - does Campbell think Harper would say no to it? With a federal election pending he'd be crazy to force it on B.C. voters when it's opposed by 76 per cent of the people.

I happen to agree that we should move to a blended and harmonized sales tax system in B.C. that would be more "transparent" and less punitive to manufacturing industries, but it also should have levels and targets and mitigation mechanisms and exemptions that are politically more fair and acceptable to more people and are less regressive than the present Campbell formula which all pro business and very little for ordinary people. (The Campbell grab of the ICBC surplus was telling - 95% of it went to the government and only 5% went to drivers in the form of lower rates.)

Thus there needs to be a better process - a "due" process - that will include both the Legislature and the public, and not merely a forced-in-by-closure deal arranged by a cabal of self-serving partisan back-room schemers and power-trip dreamers.

Campbell could easily ask Harper for a deferral of it all until after such a process would take place but Campbell is too much of a putz to do so, plus he has so many self-serving impacts in the HST that he can't afford to back out now. Maybe Lekstrom's move will force him to relent.

I think the HST should 6 + 4 instead of 7+5 or even 5 + 5 and the list of targets and exemptions should be made clear beforehand in a public process, and the mitigative measures for low-income folks should be clarified and maybe raised, the kick-in should be lifted, a whole bunch of necessary social and community services and essential goods and services should be exempted or offset or mitigated - and other such tweaks made according to what the public process might find.

The perception that the people - the voters and taxpayers and others - are too self-serving to be trusted with the task of setting taxation levels and mechanisms is nonsense when you compare that with what Campbell's friends-and-insiders produced: the only big winners in his model were the same major-industry and big-finance players who have financed his leadership and election campaigns.

Finally, and very important, and of which Chris Delaney to his credit is well aware of, is the necessity that the Province maintain and protect its constitutional jurisdiction over sales taxes, and to maintain full flexibility in how that is applied, and full control of its future options, especially regarding which items are hit and which are exempted.

The paramount fundamental issue here is whether or not the people of British Columbia will have control of their own affairs and the power to reshape their future.

Yes the removal of negative effects of a bad tax from the economy IS an important goal but surely maintaining public control of the democratic process and the levers of power is even more important.

So yes the goal of a harmonized tax is a good one, but that does not mean we should settle for a lousy replacement via an odious process. Surely British Columbia - the best place on earth - can do better than that.

DPL said...

Wasn't he on the V.Palmer list of folks most ready to be recalled?

Speaking of V. Palmer, his program Voice of BC this week was worth watching. The two competing for the gong show were VanDongen and Les Leyne of the T/C.

Anonymous said...

Any chance John Horgan jumps ship and joins his buddy Blair in a new party? Those two always seemed quite chummy.

Anonymous said...

The Vancouver Sun has posted Lekstrom's resignation letter [.PDF / 2 pages].

-----
Vaughn Palmer reviewed the BC Liberals most vulnerable to recall in this morning's column - Lekstrom wasn't mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations for having integrity Blair Lekstrom. Lets hope others in Cabinet and Caucus follow the example. If not, best they start looking for their next career.

Anonymous said...

With the departure of Blair Lekstrom there appears to be a crack forming in the BC Liberal wall of arrogance and deceit.

harriet hedgehog said...

Kudos to Mr Blair Lekstrom for paying attention to his constituents. Possibly he stayed a cabinet minister til now hoping that he might be able to mitigate or persuade his colleagues to change the HST rules. Businesses close to the Alberta and US borders are quite right to fear the HST. Consumers will simply shop in Alberta or the US.

Anonymous said...

If we want services we have to pay taxes. I have no problem with the HST. Where are the tax dollars going to come from? We have so much of an underground economy is BC the HST will be able to capture some of those funds.

Anonymous said...

With respect to your poll question:
Norm Letnick, Terry Lake and Don McRae are the next three to go.

Anonymous said...

LoL @ annonymous' comment @ 2:21

Wake up, the HST is revenue neutral ie it WON'T pay for any services. Its a tax shift so enough w/ the rhetoric.

On top of that it will only force *more* of the economy underground so how is that going to "capture" any of it?

You must be a Liberal.

BC Mary said...

What a lovely sound this made:

maintaining public control of the democratic process and the levers of power ...

That's the clean-up we'll have to arrange, once the Campbell Gang is retired.
.

Anonymous said...

As a constituent in Blair's hometown, I say "God Bless you" for having the guts to stand up for what we, your people, don't want and don't need - Living on the Border makes it really hard for us business folks to make a living competing with Alberta who only have the GST.

Anonymous said...

"That's the clean-up we'll have to arrange, once the Campbell Gang is retired."

You mean this BC Mary person is actually going to do something constructive?

There's more to achieving that goal than a simple blog that's not much more than a cut and paste and links to other news items.

is this person going to blog about why the NDP would not repeal the HST? Start a blog on the NDP's policy development when it comes to them repealing the HST?

Or even blog about this person actually getting out there in a local campaign to help the NDP win?

Yakmaster said...

This is a big WOW!!! to me. I seriously thought the Liberal children had the balls to tuff this fight out with all their arrogance. I don't know what game Lekstrom is playing but it doesn't win any points from me by caving unless he had done so right at the start. He knew the poll numbers when the vote happened. Is this perhaps a well orchestrated theatrical show? Notice the affirmation that he "can confirm that the HST was not contemplated before the May 2009 election". Now that he is not supporting the HST I'm supposed to believe him? Don't count on it Blair.

Grant G said...

Hey Asshole 4:51 pm....I mean anon 4:51....

What are you going to do?

BC Mary deserves an award, you hide behind ANON contributing nothing...

You haven`t got the guts to post a name....

And what did you contribute to this comment thread?

Sweet Buck all

Where is your blog, what have you done for society..

You come here and slam BC Mary, dont let the door hit you in your thick head on the way out!

Cheers

Gary E said...

Well Bill, I see the PAB Trolls are attacking one of the few people, and (probably with you) the lead people in the BC Rail case.
Anon 4:51 is such a blatant troll that he is almost cute.
And he obviously doesn't know what BC Mary is all about. Such a shame. Or should that be such a sham?
As far as Lekstrom goes, it's too little too late.He should have thought about his position back when the rammed this through without adequate debate.

Anonymous said...

"Hey Asshole 4:51 pm....I mean anon 4:51...."

Yah, wahddya want??

"What are you going to do?"

Volunteer. What are you going to do?

"BC Mary deserves an award, you hide behind ANON contributing nothing..."

No Bill Tieleman deserves an award. His blog is fare better than that put together by BC Mary.

"You haven`t got the guts to post a name...."

Anon is a name.

"And what did you contribute to this comment thread?"

WHat have you contributed to this thread that is actually valuable?


"Sweet Buck all"

I agree you've contributed Sweet Puck all

"Where is your blog, what have you done for society.."

Alot more than you have, but unlike you I don't need to advertise.


"You come here and slam BC Mary, dont let the door hit you in your thick head on the way out!"

I see you already have.

Anonymous said...

"And he obviously doesn't know what BC Mary is all about. Such a shame. Or should that be such a sham?"

Not interested in a cut and paste blog, more interested in Bill's much better and in depth reporting
with less political rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen much from other BC Liberals. Attack Lekstrom and they a pounding from constituents. Support Lekstrom and Campbell gives them a thrashing. Um .... get pounded by a voter or an unpopular leader who will quit this fall.

Bill Tieleman said...

People - keep a civil tongue in your heads! There's no need for dishonourable discourse here - bad language and personal attacks are unnecessary - unless you really don't have much to say!

Skookum1 said...

"Where is your blog, what have you done for society.."

Alot more than you have, but unlike you I don't need to advertise.


Huh. Could that be because whatever you've done for/to society is something you don't want anyone to know what it was?

Talk like yours is that of a provocateur, a thrower of poisoned apples. You've got "smarmy politician" written all over you....

Crankypants said...

Leckstrom's action may not be as honourable as he and the media are making it seem. On the radio today he stated that he is remaining a member of the BC Liberal party, or if you will, a sitting independent Liberal.

I suspect this may be a ploy to avoid a possible recall campaign against him. Who knows.

Remember, he did vote for the extinguishment of the PST to make room for the HST, and he is the minister responsible for the Clean Energy Act that has made the BCUC nothing more than an impotent waste of taxpayers money.

Henri Paul said...

Using the HST as his do not go to jail card is to convenient. Something just does not pass the smell test, there is something else to this resignation.
This guy is about as credible as the pope.

Anonymous said...

The Globe and Mail's Justine Hunter has put out a list of Eight MLAs at risk over HST recalls - read the article for her reasoning, but here's the list:

John Slater,
Donna Barnett,
Barry Penner,
Terry Lake,
Bill Bennett,
Pat Pimm,
George Abbott,
Blair Lekstrom

-----

By way of comparison - here is Vaughn Palmer's list:
Murray Coell,
Donna Barnett,
John Slater,
Eric Foster,
Richard Lee,
Terry Lake,
Pat Pimm,
Marc Dalton,
Kash Heed,
Ida Chong,
Bill Bennett,
Pat Bell... and
"Bubbling under the top dozen: Shuswap, represented by George Abbott. Comox Valley (Don McRae). Penticton (Bill Barisoff). Burnaby-Lougheed (Harry Bloy). Parksville-Qualicum (Ron Cantelon).

Those are just my guesses. Subject to change in this crazy political year."

Does being on both lists mean the MLA is in double jeopardy?

Anonymous said...

Blair wasnt a cable guy. He was a telephone guy. And a union guy (unpaid) for the union that represented telephone workers. I used to work with him. When I heard him on the radio today he was still insisting that the HST is a good thing. This is more about saving his seat than having principles. IMHO.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous "said...
If we want services we have to pay taxes. I have no problem with the HST. Where are the tax dollars going to come from? We have so much of an underground economy is BC the HST will be able to capture some of those funds.

2:23 PM PDT"

This is such a pointless post. Have you not been paying any attention? Or is it that you work for the PAB?

Not only is the HST said to be revenue neutral, itt has also been said it will bring in less tax dollars. How is that going to pay for these services you are referring too?

Where are the tax dollars going to come from, that is a more relevant question, since the HST is a tax shift from big business to the consumer.

This is not something that will help fight the underground economy, it will help it and encourage it. Now instead of avoiding 7% on many things by going underground, I am going to save 12%.

Comments like yours are pure fluff.

kootcoot said...

""And he obviously doesn't know what BC Mary is all about. Such a shame. Or should that be such a sham?"

Not interested in a cut and paste blog, more interested in Bill's much better and in depth reporting
with less political rhetoric.
"

Actually I'm surprised that Bill is even publishing this dipsh*t's comments. However, I like the fact that he is, because my own preference is to let fools' stoopidity shine for all the world to see and laugh at.

As far as Bill's blog being so much better than Mary's, with less "political rhetoric," that is where you show you ain't payin' attention. Bill is much more clearly politically aligned, and that is perfectly fine, as not only Colin Hansen and Gordo the Sleaze have the right to be "partisan." I'm pretty confident even Bill would admit his blog has more "political rhetoric than Mary personally injects at the Ledge Raids. jeeeez

To try and cut down Mary for having a "cut and paste" blog shows the depth of your lack of understanding. Mary's blog IS primarily a collection point for information from ALL sources regarding the events that have transpired as a result of the Legislature Raids, with a minimum of attitude, rhetoric or opinion from Mary herself, other than her expression, well deserved, of disgust for dishonesty. Mary spends countless hours scouring the media and consulting with people to collate the information the Lamestream Media tries to ignore, so that the rest of us don't have to waste our time and can get on with other important tasks in our life - like in my case stopping the Inferior Health Authority from turning our community health centre into condos for the profit of Gordo and his sleazy friends.

If you are as good as the PABlum Brigade can manage to come up with, the forces of evil are definitely on the run - next stop for the BC liaRs - Okalla or Surrey Pre-trial Detention Center or perhaps down the hall from Clifford Olsen and Paul Bernardo!

kootcoot said...

BTW, it is my understanding that Blair's witchy Project DID NOT include quitting the BC liaR Party. Is this because he would prefer to not wake up with a horse's head in his bed, as tends to happen to folks who try to leave organizations the nature of the BC Liberals.

Anonymous said...

Makes you wonder what the Libs had intended to do about the budget shortfall if the Feds hadn't conveniently come along with their bribe, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

"Huh. Could that be because whatever you've done for/to society is something you don't want anyone to know what it was?"

These "could it be" statements are comical. This poster figures a volunteer needs to report to him
as to what the volunteering for society meets his reqirements. Far from it.

"Talk like yours is that of a provocateur, a thrower of poisoned apples. You've got "smarmy politician" written all over you...."

The previous poster has something all over him, but not getting into that.

Keep up the good work there Bill and looking forward to your next reporting!

Anonymous said...

"BTW, it is my understanding that Blair's witchy Project DID NOT include quitting the BC liaR Party. Is this because he would prefer to not wake up with a horse's head in his bed, as tends to happen to folks who try to leave organizations the nature of the BC Liberals."

So what happens if a person decides to leave the NDP? Does one of the NDP's union guys make arrangements for that person to have a supporting role in a concrete column?

Anonymous said...

I find BC Mary, as an honest and reliable person. She tells it the way it is. She is up front, and that is what people appreciate about her.

What I wish is, that the political system of BC, would be revamped. There should be severe penalties for, corruption, lieing, misleading the people, cheating to win. It is not for governing officials to have, hate, spite, vendetta's, hiding information from the citizens, abusing expense accounts, that should be open for the people to see, arrogance has no place in government, nor does fraudulent selling of the citizens assets, those assets belong to the people. Campbell, Hansen and the BC Liberals, are guilty of all of the above, and more. They have earned the disrespect and the contempt, from their citizens. The right thing to do, is for them to step down.