Top - Bill Tieleman, Bill Vander Zalm & Chris Delaney of Fight HST at news conference Wednesday August 11 - Stepan Vdovine photo; bottom - Bill Vander Zalm reads letter from Elections BC verifying success of Fight HST citizens Initiative - Bill Tieleman photo
Words can't describe how elated all of the Fight HST team felt today - and how furious we were at the same time after Elections BC verified the historic first-ever in Canada successful citizens Initiative campaign - and then refused to follow the legislation as you can see in acting Election BC Chief Electoral Officer Craig James letter to Bill Vander Zalm.
The stated reason - because a big business coalition is attempting to take legal action to block the entire Initiative process - a bogus excuse for refusing to do their duty as required.
Let's be clear - there is no legal impediment for Elections BC to proceed - the big business coalition filed an extraordinarily late attempt to overturn the Fight HST petition just one day before it was filed - on June 29.
The big business organizations who all stand to benefit by gaining millions of dollars in HST revenue transferred from consumers to their pockets have never obtained nor even attempted to get a court injunction to stop the Initiative.
Failing that, Elections BC has no reason to block the next step - sending the draft Initiative petition legislation called the HST Extinguishment Act to a Select Standing Committee of the BC Legislature.
The Recall and Inititiative Act is extremely clear - if the petition is verified as having met the threshold, then " ... the chief electoral officer must send a copy of the petition and draft Bill to the select standing committee."
Not "may". Not "whenever he or she feels like it". Not "after business groups take a legal run at the petition" - the Act says the chief electoral offier "must" - no ifs ands or buts.
Fight HST Media Release
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER THWARTS DEMOCRACY BY RULING THAT HISTORIC FIGHT HST CITIZENS INITIATIVE
PETITION TO END HARMONIZED SALES TAX IS VALID, BUT HE WILL NOT ACT.
Fight HST to Launch Total Recall
Vancouver – In a stunning move riddled with suspected political interference, acting Chief Electoral Officer, Craig James, today said that the Fight HST Initiative to End the Harmonized Sales Tax in BC has successfully passed the required 10% threshold in all 85 ridings - but that he has decided not to act upon the results.
As a result, Fight HST leader, Initiative proponent and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm announced the organization will launch a “total recall” campaign against all BC Liberal MLAs starting November 15.
According to the Initiative Act, a successful Initiative petition will result in the petition Bill being sent to a Standing Committee of the Legislature who may submit it to the Legislature for a vote, or send it back to the CEO with instructions to conduct a non-binding, province wide Initiative Vote.
But late today Craig James privately told Vander Zalm that Elections BC will not submit the successful petition to the Standing Committee until a final decision has been reached by the courts regarding a lawsuit by a big business coalition attempting to quash the petition.
Vander Zalm was furious with the decision and its implications.
“Craig James' refusal to submit the successful petition Bill to the Standing Committee means that he has effectively destroyed the democratic process,” Vander Zalm said. “James is opening the door for any group opposed to a Citizen Initiative in future to thwart the democratic will of the people simply by launching a challenge to that petition in court.”
“It is outrageous, and reeks of political interference by the government and their friends in big business, and we are not going to allow it,” fumed Vander Zalm.
“It is clear to even a casual observer that the government will use any means to get their way, including even the process adopted by Elections BC. It is time to clean out Victoria.”
“We are going to launch a total recall of the entire BC Liberal caucus, beginning on November 15. We will stagger the recalls so that maximum pressure is brought to bear on the government. They have lost their moral authority to govern. We need a new election and a new government,” said Vander Zalm.
Vander Zalm says Recalls will be designed to drive MLAs from office by marginalizing them their own communities so that they cannot carry out their duties, and the government cannot function.
“This is the worst kind of political meddling I have ever seen in all my political days. It challenges the credibility of the Chief Electoral Officer, and that of the entire organization of Elections BC. It must be stopped. This only strengthens our resolve to restore democracy in BC. And that starts with overturning the government starting on November 15.”
Vander Zalm says his group will also look at obtaining a court order to release the results of the petition. He says a court order may be the best way to get the CEO reverse his decision and to submit the results of the draft Bill to the Legislature.