|Former Premier Bill Vander Zalm & Bill Tieleman launching successful Fight HST Citizens' Initiative in April 2010 to extinguish the Harmonized Sales Tax|
The BC Liberal government has today announced and outrageously biased set of rules and funding decision for the Harmonized Sales Tax - here is the Fight HST news release in full, with links to the BC government news release and backgrounder.
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News Release Thursday April 14, 2011
FIGHT HST CALLS BC GOVERNMENT FUNDING AND RULES ON HARMONIZED SALES TAX BIASED AND UNFAIR TO CONSUMERS OPPOSED TO HST
VANCOUVER – Fight HST is calling today’s BC government announcement of rules and funding in the provincial referendum on the Harmonized Sales Tax biased and unfair to consumers opposed to the HST.
HST leader and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm said it’s blatantly unfair that the BC Liberal government’s decision and big business HST supporter will spend many times as much promoting the HST as the inadequate amount it will give to HST opponents.
Vander Zalm says the government’s failure to place meaningful restrictions on third party advertising means big business will likely spend millions in advertising to keep the HST, which benefits them through a $2 billion a year tax shift onto the backs of consumers.
On top of that, the BC government will give $250,000 to business groups to spend promoting the HST.
“The government’s announcement today means everything is stacked against ordinary citizens who want to eliminate the HST,” Vander Zalm said. “It is totally unfair, totally biased against the consumers who are paying this terrible tax and want to get rid of it.”
Vander Zalm said that the BC government will spend $700,000 on a mailing to every household that will contain pro-HST propaganda “explaining” the HST, plus give $250,000 to a group opposing extinguishing the HST, plus let business spend as much as it wants privately to keep the HST.
But Fight HST, the grassroots group that led the successful petition signed by 557,000 Elections BC-validated voters to repeal the HST, is not even guaranteed any funding and at most could receive $250,000 – a tiny fraction of the amount government and business will spend to defend the HST imposed by the BC Liberals.
“All we have asked for is a level playing field and what we’ve been given instead is a steep hill to climb with a ball and chain around our ankle – that’s just not right,” Vander Zalm said.
“We will have to depend on the people power that allowed us to succeed with the first successful Citizens’ Initiative petition to extinguish the HST in 2010,” Vander Zalm said. “We will reactivate our nearly 7,000 Initiative canvassers and other volunteers in every one of BC’s 85 ridings and take this fight with government and big business to the people.”
“I am still convinced we will win this Referendum even with outrageously unfair rules because ordinary people know the HST is hurting our economy, hurting restaurants, hurting tourism, hurting new and vacation home sales and so much more,” Vander Zalm said. “People can’t be fooled by a slick government and big business campaign no matter how much they spend.”
Fight HST strategist Bill Tieleman pointed out that the funding for both sides of the HST Referendum is $250,000 each – just half the funding provided to both sides in the Single Transferable Vote Referendum held during the May 2009 provincial election.
And Tieleman says despite the fact that Fight HST is the only organization opposing the HST and led the Citizens Initiative campaign with Bill Vander Zalm as the legal proponent, the government has made no commitment to provide it with any funding.
“There is only one group – Fight HST – that publicly opposed the HST from the beginning, organized the Citizens Initiative, signed up nearly 7,000 volunteers through Elections BC as canvassers and is led by the Initiative proponent – Bill Vander Zalm,” Tieleman said.
“But we fear that the government could even further stack the deck in favour of the HST by denying us the limited and inadequate funding it says is available or giving us only a small portion of that amount and giving the rest to other groups who have not been involved with the Citizens Initiative campaign,” Tieleman said.
Tieleman was President of NO STV, the group which received $500,000 in provincial funding to advocate its position opposed to the Single Transferable Vote in the 2009 referendum.
“If you are going to have a fair debate and let both sides present their views to the public through television, print, radio and Internet advertising, outreach, public events around the province, information leaflets and websites, $250,000 is simply inadequate based on my experience with the STV referendum,” Tieleman said.
“This is a huge province, advertising is very expensive and we are going to get outspent by government and big business by a factor of probably 10 to 1 or more – that’s an unfair fight in the extreme,” he said.
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