Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BC Supreme Court to rule on big business coalition anti-Initiative legal action Friday

Bill Tieleman & Bill Vander Zalm outside BC Supreme Court

Will the Fight HST citizen's Initiative be ruled legal or illegal on Friday?

BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman said this afternoon that he plans to issue his decision at 10 a.m. Friday if at all possible,after hearing arguments from a big business coalition that wants to invalidate the Initiative petition signed by 705,643 voters.

That follows a day of arguments from the business organization's legal team - which strangely included comparing the campaign against the HST to a possible citizens Initiative effort to legalize marijuana in BC and saying voters had been "fooled" into signing the Fight HST petition.

Lead business lawyer Peter Gall said the proposed Fight HST draft legislation to kill the HST that was attached to the petition was no more possible for the BC Legislature to implement than it would be able to make marijuana legal in the province.

Bauman also heard counter arguments from lawyers for Fight HST leader and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm, the petition proponent, as well as a lawyer for Elections BC, which approved the wording before it was launched.

And NDP MLA Mike Farnworth strongly disagreed with Gall's position, saying that the entire Initiative question should be dealt with by the BC Legislature, not the court.

Gall, whose legal team includes former BC Liberal Attorney General Geoff Plant, was scathing in his attacks on the Initiative.

And Gall rejected any allegations that the business community is playing politics with the Initiative.

"There have been arguments that my clients are interfering with the political process, advancing their own interests - that's just not so. My clients simply want to see the rules followed," Gall said.

"There would be harm done to the political process if this Bill is introduced in the Legislature and the debate is not about the content of the Bill but whether it is constitutional," he said.

That brought a witty rejoinder from Bauman.

"You say it's wrong and they say it's right - and I have to resolve all that?" he asked to laugher in the courtroom.

But Gall forcefully argued that the Fight HST proposed legislation is beyond the province's ability to change because it entered into an agreement with the federal Conservative government to implement the HST.

"The proposed Bill is clearly, clearly in its pith and substance outside the jurisdiction of the province," Gall said. "This statute would nullify the HST immediately....The Act clearly indicated that it extinguishes the HST in British Columbia - and it can't do that."

"It [the Act] doesn't have the constitutional jurisdiction to render inapplicable the HST in BC. Only Parliament through an amendment to the Excise Tax Act can extinguish the HST in BC," Gall said.

Then the longtime adversary of labour unions in countless Labour Relations Board hearings went on the offensive against the Fight HST petition and draft legislation.

"This was very carefully, carefully constructed to have a very misleading and incorrect assumption - that this would eliminate the HST immediately," he said. "The summary also wrongly leads people to believ extinguishing the agreement [with Ottawa] will extinguish the HST."

Gall argued that Bauman should use the provisions of the Recall and Initiative Act that the petition was launched under to rule that the Fight HST effort is invalid and kill the legislation rather than let it go to a Select Standing Committee of the Legislature.

"That's what the Act was designed to prevent - from people being fooled," Gall said.

Fight HST lawyer Bruce Elwood argued strongly against the business coalition position.

"The intent of the Initiative process is to take the Executive [the BC cabinet] out and go directly to the Legislature," Elwood said. "The heart of the [Fight HST] Bill is very simple - to terminate the agreement."

Outside court NDP MLA Farnworth said that if the business coalition argument is upheld by Bauman, the Initiative process is dead.

"It will render the law basically useless," Farnworth said. "That's not what was intended with this legislation - this was a way for ordinary citizens to participate."

"The court should not be, in my view, pre-screening legislation. The Legislature decides what it will discuss and what will pass."

"The court should rule in favour of Vander Zalm and toss out the business coalition case," Farnworth said.
Bauman has reserved judgement on Fight HST's earlier court application to have the HST itself declared unconstitutional based on the fact that the BC Legislature never passed legislation imposing the HST - only to repeal the previous Provincial Sales Tax.

For those interested, the big business coalition members are: the Council of Forest Industries, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, the Mining Association of B.C., the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Coast Forest Products Association and the Western Convenience Stores Association.


Crankypants said...

Mr. Gall has basically intimated that 700,000+ citizens of BC are morons. Come to think of it, so have the spokesmen from the various business associations that are paying his bill.

Boy do I ever feel hoodwinked by you Bill, Bill Vander Zalm and Chris Delaney for attending the first NOHST rally in Vancouver, signing the petition and donating to the cause. NOT! I feel vindicated and know in my heart I did the right thing.

THe BC Liberals and their Howe Street buddies are putting more effort into the HST fight than they did in the last election. That alone has to raise a great big red flag for anyone that wishes to objectively look at the issue.

I think that the forest industry may not find the HST the panacea they think it will be for their industry. Don't be surprised to hear that the US lumber lobby will attempt to put some tariffs on lumber exported from Canada to the US arguing that the HST is a subsidy to the Canadian industry.

Finally, seeing as our votes are being dismissed as irrelevant by the pro-HST Howe Streeters, maybe if we began voting with closed wallets in their member's businesses they will see things in a different light. If the majority of the people that took the time to vote for the initiative started boycotting as many members businesses as possible, I believe they would come to appreciate that we are the peons they make us out to be. No violence, no illegal tactics. Just private citizens choosing who gets access to their ever dwindling supply of money.


SB said...

The lawyers are stating ottawa engineered this plan totally and is completely in control , so the BC govt has then admitted it gave up such control over sales taxes without consent of the people who are now paying more to increase profits for big industry , and we are to beleive this is good for us yep recall them all

Crankypants said...

After reading Gall's argument that the BC Legislature cannot extinguish the HST because it is a federally enacted tax, I got to thinking. Didn't either Saskatchewan or Manitoba sign on to the HST with Ottawa and then withdraw? Did whichever province it was have to have their premier crawl on hands and knees to gain a release? I sure don't recall the House of Commons ever having a vote to remove any HST from any province.

Methinks someone is blowing smoke big time. Hopefully Justice Baumann recognizes when he's being played.

Anonymous said...

Here is a comment of Stephen Harper stating that the HST is a provincial decision - not federal. Who is lying - Harper or Campbell?? My money is on Campbell in this case.



Laila Yuile said...

Bill, may I let your readers know that Norman Farrell and I started a new site earlier this week to inform and initiate the people of BC about the businesses behind these associations that support the HST. That site is

Our suggestion is that people stop spending their hard earned dollars at any business that supports and benefits from the HST.I was given a list of the corporate members early this week, by a Chamber member who does not support the HST and was angered by the actions of the Chamber, especially since they have indicated on their site that all members are in favour of this tax!

We feel a concentrated consumer action against a small but powerful group of businesses will have the most impact,but people need to tell these businesses why they are going elsewhere.

The initial list includes White Spot ( Shato Holdings - C of C member), Canadian Tire, 7-11 and Kal Tire, since most are BC wide and will have the largest impact.

We are looking for people who can assist with printing information pages, and for volunteers who can assist in handing these out at Skytrain and anywhere else that sees a high volume of traffic.

This also must be a focussed effort on all our parts to be effective - but we feel it will make an impact and let these associations know what we think about their lack of regard for democracy.

Any interested parties can contact Norman or I through our personal sites, or via email at

Thanks Bill!!

Kim said...

Yes, he admitted that the tax was in federal hands, but how can the feds tax one province and not the next one? That is illegal too. I've started my email campaign, starting with the membership of the BC Chamber of commerce and the Western Convenience Store members. If they insist we are nothing more than consumers, we just have to vote with our wallets!

Anonymous said...

I expect a great deal of money and future favours are being traded between government in Victoria and "our" free and fair judiciary in Vancouver right now.

All that's missing from this deal is Wally.

Remember Bill . . .


DPL said...

Not only are we considered stupid, it seems we are a bunch of potheads. And for that sort of drivel, somebody is paying big bucks. I see to recall reading that the judge mentioned the act and having a petition go to the government, not is the petition is legal or not. Methinks the judge is no fool or for that matter not a pothead either. Tomorrow should be interesting. as for the forest business, I read this morning that the US guys are stirring the pot about unfair stumpage and very low cost for timber.

cherylb said...

Great idea Gall! When we are done with the HST, can we start an Initiative to legalize marijuana? It's long overdue :)

Anonymous said...

I just tried to find some Jack Crone / Kash Heed articles to post in a G.S. recall news piece and 3 that I tried have been deleted!

Regardless of how the recall turns out and how the next election plays out our MSM media is the real problem. This trial was not even on the 6pm news (CBC)!

Inevitably the incoming government will be blamed by the MSM for all the debt and destruction Gordo's BC Liberals have wrecked.

Frankly I see this as the biggest problem our province faces. Most people watch canwest / global; a handful at best seek out journalists on blogs. The majority is simply spoon fed news that is inaccurate, ignores the issues, and demonizes anything that doesn't lock step with Howe Street.

What are we going to do about it?

Gary E said...

Throughout this whole debacle a couple of things have been bothering me. All the Liberals and their diehard supporters have been playing chicken little. The latest of whom is Donna Barnett. They all keep saying that the 1.6 or 1.9 billion (whoever you believe) would have to be returned.

First, all we have received of any amount is $250 Million. And that amount was given to any government who would sign an agreement. A bloody signing bonus. It doesn't have to be returned.

Secondly and more important all This government has to do is write a letter reneging on the agreement (an agreement that I firmly believe is unconstitutional)with one years notice.

And as an aside, one restaurant in Williams Lake has closed it's doors directly attributing their problems to the HST. And.....a Tolko mill in Williams Lake has laid off employees attributing their problems to the housing market being in the tank, both in Canada and the US

Rainlander said...

Many British Columbians like me are voting with our feet. I have virtually stopped eating lunch in restaurants during the week, and have severely limited restaurant visits at other times.

I instead purchase HST-free products at the grocery store and take them to work to make sandwiches etc. I can get 2-3 lunches from the amount I used to spend on one lunch in a restaurant.

The worst part is, however, that it is extremely difficult to avoid paying HST, even on grocery items. If you buy sparking water, you pay HST. Almost everything at the deli counter that is prepared to eat (other than sliced meats and cheese etc) contains the HST.

If you purchase a dinner bun to make a sandwich, you don't pay HST, but buy any baked product containing sugar, and you pay HST. It is an insidious tax that hits consumers every time we spend money.

I've also put off making larger purchases due to the extra 7% tax in the HST. We purchased new fencing and furnace for the house before the HST was implemented. If it had been after, there is every change we would not have made those improvements.

Paul said...

Crankypants is correct.

Former Saskatchewan Conservative premier Grant Devine harmonized sales taxes in 1991.

He was defeated in the next election by the New Democrats, who split the taxes up again.

No problem whatsoever.

Campbell's friends who control the MSM refuse to talk about that one.

We are being played for fools.

Anonymous said...

No,no,no...the hoodwinking has been done by the provincial Liberal government and those big business blockbusters that are trying to make us believe that we don't understand what the HST will do.
Au contraire...I now find that I am spending MORE than $100.(on HST taxes alone) a week for all the myriad of little things that were never taxed before. Before the PST and GST were not always attached to the same purchase item as when you buy teen clothing for kids under 14 for school, right? I couldn't believe the bill last night for a few kid's school clothing items and when I buy toilet paper at the grocery store and many, many other necessities- they're taxed as luxuries???
Look at all the H's at the side of your grocery bill and weep, folks.
Underground economy here I come. Mark my words the economy is going to take a big,big hit when the big ticket items need replacing.
People will go balistic!

What is this who-haw about untouchable HST because it is now in the federal ball court? Why was Saskatchewan able to repeal it after they turfed out the previous prov. gov't that brought it in?
Recall in the Fall!!!

Henri Paul said...

For several months,Ive been contemplating on purchasing a used motor home, nothing fancy, nor expensive, only big enough for me and my wife.
Previously when we set out, we would stay at motels and eat at restaurants.
Now, not only we will stay in our motor home, but eat in it as well, this will be a considerable saving for us, as well, those savings will go towards fuel and maintenance of the motor home,and for even more savings, destination Alberta, where we load on on sales tax free goods.
We get to travel and save money.
Thank you BC Chamber of Commerce and your oh so eloquently spoken hired mouthpieces for showing us of how little consequence your members place in us as consumers here in BC.
And no, Kal tire I will no longer patronize you here or Alberta,in fact any franchise or brand in Alberta who are with the BC Chamber your toast as far as my wallet goes.
Just maybe that used motorhome will be purchased in Alberta, saving me a further 12% tax, my Alberta cousin suggest I put it in name.

Anonymous said...

"I expect a great deal of money and future favours are being traded between government in Victoria and "our" free and fair judiciary in Vancouver right now."

I just read an informative article about the North American class system you may be interested in:

Anonymous said...

Whoever the idiots are suggesting a boycott should realize that will only end up with people who least can afford to loose a job getting laid off first because that is what happens when a business starts loosing money. The little guy (or gal) is always first to get axed.

Besides the judge is going to promptly dismiss the business coalition case tomorrow morning guaranteed. The “wording” of the initiative is seriously flawed and should have never been accepted by Elections BC in the first place but that doesn’t matter as ultimately the initiative process is non binding and has no official standing…this is why the judge will punt the big business challenge because ultimately there is nothing legitimately or legally to challenge.

What the imitative really is all about is politics and democracy. Basically it is a glorified AAP…and much like an AAP that local governments use, the minimum threshold has been met meaning that a full scale Province wide referendum is warranted and justified.

Let’s get on it with already. And note to Tielemen, town down on the language, you are getting like the boy who cried wolf with your blatant over use of words like attack and shocking and disturbing. Either you need to get out more or invest in a good thesaurus.

Anonymous said...

re: anon 11:08pm

Well we're upsetting the pab scum again. I'm voting with my wallet as well. We have boycotted our local White Spot and drive a little futher to an independent cafe when we eat out for breakfast. Further more I tell everyone I can.

Screw you HST supporters! And don't try to feed us your BS about giving a damn about workers - you suck.

Not hoodwinked said...

"This was very carefully, carefully constructed to have a very misleading and incorrect assumption - that this would eliminate the HST immediately."

Didn't Harry Neufeld, BC's former Chief Electoral, Officer consult with the NoHST coalition to 'fine-tune' the wording of the petition? Would that not be acting in bad faith?

Sure, Neufeld was fired, as he should have been, but ...

Anonymous said...

Report says HST to cost households in B.C. extra $320 a year

The harmonized sales tax that was promoted as "revenue-neutral" will cost taxpayers in Ontario and British Columbia hundreds of dollars each year, a Canadian think-tank said Thursday.

B.C. households can expect to pay an extra $320 a year, on average, after rebates meant to ease the transition expire

The Province / Postmedia News, August 20, 2010


Impact of HST on Ontario and British Columbia Households

David Murrell, Ph. D -- Canadian Centre for Policy Studies

poor boy said...

To Anonymous at 11:08 PM PDT
You are the biggest idiot to post anything about the HST. You clearly do NOT understand what is happening in BC, and how repressive this obscene tax grab is.

The WHOLE point of the boycott is to CAUSE HURT – can you comprehend that? Can you try really, really, really hard?

The whole point of my boycott of ALL restaurants in BC is to cause hurt AND pain to the owners and staff - ALL OF THEM. I hope lots of them go out of business. The vile, obscene tax grab enacted through the restaurants MUST be fought tooth and nail, at least until it is removed.

All your mindless diatribe has done is to have made you look like a stupid, boot-licking Gordo the Great toady. But, I am sure that is all you are, and I expect you also expect some personal gain from this vile, obscene tax grab.

Anonymous – “Either you need to get out more or invest in a good thesaurus.” You also need to take a basic, introductory high school course in Logic.

Henri Paul said...

Anonymous said at, 11:08 PM PDT
Whoever the idiots are suggesting a boycott should realize that will only end up with people who least can afford to loose a job getting laid off first because that is what happens when a business starts loosing money. The little guy (or gal) is always first to get axed.

Always amusing when your type of people use "the poor little guy theory"
your referring to those same people earning $6-$8 per hr minimum wage that you people have suppressed and refused to increase their wages for the last 7 years, the lowest min. wage in Canada.
And ,it won't be the $6- $8 per hr worker you rats will let go first. No,its the $10 -$16 per hr ones who will hit the skids first, thats the way you bottom feeders function.
Tell me where your located you "anonymous" useless piece of dog turd I'll personally come and boycott you.

Anonymous said...

HST Proponents are not restricted to just six associations. Here's a fuller listing courtesy of John Winter, Chair of "Smart Tax Alliance": Source:

"The Smart Tax Alliance is a non-partisan coalition of 30 B.C. business and industry associations formed to support the harmonization of the PST with the GST. Members include:

Business Council of BC
BC Chamber of Commerce
Institute of Chartered Accountants of BC
Retail Council of Canada
BC Technology Industry Association
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
Mining Association of BC
Council of Forest Industries
BC Trucking Association
BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association
Coast Forest Products Association
New Car Dealers Association of BC
BC Construction Association
BC Pulp and Paper Steering Committee Truck Loggers Association
Motion Picture Industry Association of BC
Greater Vancouver Gateway Council
Railway Association of Canada
Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of BC
Initiatives Prince George Development
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Association for Mineral Exploration BC
New Media BC
Western Convenience Stores Association
Canadian Energy Pipeline Association
BC Agriculture Council
Coal Association of Canada
BC Food Processors, Aggregate Producers Association of BC
Construction Labour Relations Association of BC"

Anonymous said...

Oh spare me the bravado Henri Paul, I have flushed finer specimens then you. You couldn’t boycott your way out of Wal Mart.

Anonymous said...

Oooo Bill..Gordie and Steve are gonna be pissed off...who will most feel the vindictive wrath that is sure to come?

The usual suspects? The weakest? Those least able to defend themselves?
The halt the blind and the lame?

Henri Paul said...

Anonymous said... 10:42 PM PDT
Oh spare me the bravado Henri Paul, I have flushed finer specimens then you.
You should refrain from flushing your specimens into the toilet. Liberals are becoming very scarce.