This morning Fight HST launched a legal action to have the Harmonized Sales Tax ruled unconstitutional by the BC Supreme Court.
The Petition to the Court was filed by noted lawyer Joe Arvay - who many will know was the lead lawyer in the successful court action launched by the Hospital Employees Union after the BC Liberals' Bill 29 ripped up legally binding collective agreements in order to privatize health care services.
In that case the BC government was ordered to pay $75 million in compensation and retraining to affected employees.
The full Fight HST news release is below.
Please note that the "Petition" referred to is not the citizens Initiative petition but a legal term.
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Monday, July 5, 2010
VANCOUVER – In what might be described as the second of a one-two punch, former BC premier Bill Vander Zalm today filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the HST in B.C.
The Petition filed in the B.C. Supreme Court seeks an order quashing the OIC that authorized the government to enter the Agreement with the government of Canada that purports to impose the HST in B.C. and a declaration that such Agreement is a nullity and of no force and effect.
The essence of the Petition is that the provincial Cabinet has unlawfully imposed a tax on the citizens of B.C. without legislative authority.
If the lawsuit is successful the HST will not apply in British Columbia.
Vander Zalm explained, “It’s a simple argument that relies on the basic principle that there can be no taxation without representation or without the consent of the people. And that representation and consent can only come from having the HST debated and voted on in the provincial Legislature, and that has not happened in B.C.
”Fight HST lead organizer Chris Delaney says the lawsuit represents the second of a three phase strategy to repeal the HST in BC, which includes the Initiative petition that garnered over 700,000 signatures and was filed with Elections BC last week, as well as potential Recalls starting in November.
"What is at issue in both the petition and the lawsuit is the democratic process," said Vander Zalm. "Gordon Campbell mocked the democratic process when he deceived voters in the last election by promising not to bring in an HST and then immediately reversed course after the election.”
“Then Campbell and BC Finance Minister Colin Hansen avoided the democratic process altogether by entering into a secret deal with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to create the HST without legislative approval,” Vander Zalm said.
Vander Zalm has retained Joseph Arvay Q.C., of Arvay Finlay Barristers to handle the case.
"That the Crown cannot tax its people without the express authorization of the Legislature is something that has been established for centuries and traces its roots to the English Bill of Rights of 1689 and is reaffirmed in the Constitution Act 1867," said Arvay.
Arvay said that he hopes the Court will hear the challenge as soon as possible this summer.
Delaney says he expects the Vander Zalm challenge to be heard and decided before the lawsuit that was filed last week by the various business associations who are trying to stop the Initiative petition.
“We had hoped that the resort to the court would not have been necessary had the Initiative process been allowed to run its course and the legislature repealed the HST.
But once the pro-HST ‘business association’ decided to use the courts to attack us, then it only made sense for the court to now hear the fundamental question of whether the HST can be constitutionally imposed by the Province,” said Delaney.Vander Zalm described the lawsuit as “the showstopper”.
“If we win here it is all over for Campbell’s HST. One way or the other the government will have to face the music for having imposed the HST in B.C.," Vander Zalm concluded.
To view the legal documents filed today in the BC Supreme Court see: http://www.arvayfinlay.com/ and http://www.fighthst.com/
Vander Zalm Statement