It is with considerable regret that I report the BC Supreme Court has ruled against the Fight HST legal application - masterfully crafted by veteran lawyer Joe Arvay and his staff - to have the Harmonized Sales Tax declared unconstitutional.
The challenge was always a difficult one but Joe, Bruce Elwood and Alison Latimer put together a stunningly comprehensive attack on the HST based on the argument that every other province with an HST except BC has passed explicit legislation authorizing it.
Arvay and his team also successfully argued against the big business coalition legal application that would have disqualified the Fight HST Initiative.
In the Fight HST action, Arvay strongly argued that BC simply signed a deal in the backroom with the federal Conservative government and then only repealed the Provincial Sales Tax in the BC Legislature - in order to avoid BC Liberal MLAs literally voting in favour of the HST.
Had the Fight HST challenge led by former Premier Bill Vander Zalm been successful the court could have ruled the HST illegal - an enormous win.
It was well worth the effort - and that may not be the end of it.
Arvay has suggested some grounds for an appeal to the BC Court of Appeal and Fight HST will consider that over the 30 day time limit for filing.
Fight HST also is raising funds to pay for the legal challenge and donations are gratefully accepted at Fight HST.
FIGHT HST News Release
SUPREME COURT SAYS FINANCE MINISTER CAN IMPOSE HST IN BC WITHOUT LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL
Friday, September 17, 2010
Ottawa can vote to tax BC without Legislature approval
Delta – Fight HST Leader, Bill Vander Zalm, says the Supreme Court dismissed his court petition challenging the constitutionality of the HST today.
Vander Zalm says Chief Justice Bauman’s decision effectively means that the imposition of the HST in BC can be done by “Order-in-Council”, rather than through the legislature as the constitution originally intended. He says it amounts to taxation without representation.
“When the court says that a single person with the stroke of a pen can legislate a tax in BC, the system is completely broken,” said Vander Zalm.
“The fight against the HST has exposed that the government doesn’t listen to the people. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court has exposed that the system not only permits this, it actually encourages it. People did not fight and die in two world wars to have taxes imposed by one man.”
Vander Zalm says that although the court ruled the HST is a federal tax, it acknowledged in its previous ruling that the province can rescind its participation.
“The only good news is we still have the means to undo this giant mess, since the first court ruling affirmed British Columbia’s right to kill the tax. We don’t have a say, but we still have a veto,” said Vander Zalm.
Vander Zalm says Fight HST will consult legal counsel to consider an appeal of the ruling.
Vander Zalm pointed out that the HST applies a new levy of 7% on a wide range of goods and services previously exempted from provincial sales taxes. He says legally that might not constitute a new tax, but in reality it is clearly a new tax imposed by the federal government at the request of BC’s Finance Minister.
“It is an unbelievable situation when Ottawa can use its votes in Ontario together with votes from the Bloc in Quebec to impose a tax in BC without the BC legislature’s approval. Quebecer’s are now deciding taxes in BC! Can you imagine if the reverse had happened? Quebec would separate tomorrow!”
Vander Zalm says after his group gets rid of the HST, he will commit himself to changing the entire system.
“After we defeat the HST, we must continue to fight to restore our democracy. It will be a short lived victory indeed if the same system that brought us this awful tax is left in place to simply carry on with ‘business-as-usual’.”
“We need a complete overhaul, and I promise to do whatever I can to bring that about,” concluded Vander Zalm.