Friday, August 20, 2010

Total victory for Fight HST in BC Supreme Court - citizens Initiative to kill HST must proceed!

Photos: top - Bill Vander Zalm & Bill Tieleman leave BC Supreme Court after learning of Fight HST victory over big business coalition; middle - a happy Vander Zalm and Chris Delaney; bottom - NDP leader Carole James outside court calls on BC Liberals to reconvene BC Legislature and hold free vote on the HST Credits: Top - Stepan Vdovine, middle, bottom - Bill Tieleman

Stunning victory in BC Supreme Court for Fight HST and 705,643 voters who signed citizens Initiative over big business coalition

Chief Justice Robert Bauman delivered a shocking rebuke to BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell and his big business financial supporters in BC Supreme Court today, ruling that the Fight HST citizens Initiative is completely valid and should immediately proceed.

Bauman tellingly even quoted Campbell in the second paragraph of his written decision, saying that the premier had called the successful Initiative launched by proponent and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm a "victory for democracy" after it passed the threshold required by the Recall and Initiative Act.

Consider that a slap in the face to Gordon Campbell.

Bauman said the big business coalition legal action that caused Elections BC Acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James mean that: "The proponents of the Initiative Petition are current denied the fruits of their 'victory for democracy'."

Not any more.

Bauman rejected each and every one of the big business coalition's arguments, as advance by lead lawyer Peter Gall of Heenan Blaikie and supported by former BC Liberal Attorney General Geoff Plant, former Labour Relations Board chair Don Munroe - both also of Heenan Blaikie, and UBC law professor Robin Elliot.

Only Plant was in court for the decision and did not appear outside court to make a statement to the media.

But Bill Vander Zalm and NDP leader Carole James both were.

"Today is a great day for the province, a great day for democracy - we won, we won!" an elated Vander Zalm said.

And Vander Zalm warned the BC Liberal government that Recall campaigns will start in mid-November if the HST is not eliminated in a vote by the BC Legislature.

James called on Campbell to immediately bring MLAs back to the Legislature for a free vote on the HST.

"We hear rumours the premier doesn't want a fall session, well what could be more important to deal with than 700,000 British Columbians who've spoken with one voice, a clear voice. It's time for the Premier to act," James told a media throng.

Bauman asked that Election BC immediately move on proceeding with the Initiative.

"I would respectfully ask that the Chief Electoral Officer perform his remaining duties under the Recall and Initiative Act forthwith," Bauman wrote.

And now Elections BC has released the total results of the Fight HST Initiative and full riding by riding breakdowns along with a news release stating the petition will be forward to the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives on Monday August 23.

There is no explanation why the letter is not being sent today.

Elections BC reports that 557,383 of the total 705,643 signatures obtained by Fight HST were valid - meaning that 148,260 signatures were rejected for whatever reason.

The closest riding appears at first glance to have been Abbotsford South, which still passed by a margin of 599 voters.

Bauman rejected all Gall's arguments advance on Wednesday - that voters were "misled" by the Initiative petition and draft HST Extinguishment Act; that ending the HST was beyond the jurisdiction of the provincial government because of its agreement with the federal Conservative government to impose the HST; and that Elections BC should not have approved Vander Zalm's Initiative in the first place.

And Bauman left no doubt that the BC Legislature can kill the HST if it so chooses in a vote.

BC Chamber of Commerce President John Winter told CKNW radio's Christy Clark today that the business coalition will not appeal Bauman's decision, admitting that he was "disappointed" with the decision but will live with it.

And Winter suggested that maybe there should be a provincial referendum on the HST.

"We've heard a lot from people who oppose the HST, maybe we should hear from those who support it," Winter said.

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.

More bad news for the coalition: a new blog called Honestly Shared Taxation is calling for BC consumers to put pressure on individual coalition business members, including considering a boycott of their products.

Honestly Shared Taxation founders Laila Yuile and Norman Farrell - both veteran bloggers - have listed many of the individual business members' extensive donations to the BC Liberal Party on their new website.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Bill and Bill.

concerned citizen said...

Congratulations! And thanks very much to you and the anti-HST team for all the hard work you've done on our behalf in the name of democracy. I sincerely hope this is the beginning of a new era of awareness and action for British Columbians and Canadians. We all share the responsibility to keep democracy alive.

Anonymous said...

WE just heard from the supporters of the HST in the Supreme Court...and they lost. So forget the referendum, recall the legislature and put it to a vote...we'll go from there to recall if it does not get canned.

G West said...

Congratulations Bill,

And thanks once again for all the work you've done in this project to reanimate the practice of democracy in this country (not just in this province).

Well done.

Kim said...

Congratulations Bill T. well done! As a volunteer, I would like to also thank all of the wonderful people who stood in line in the parking lot at western speedway every Sunday, to add their signatures and voice their support! This is a victory for all of us citizens who love our province and refuse to give up our soveriegnty!

Anonymous said...

Yes, for sure, we have to keep up the boycotts. I doubt, ever in my life, that I will ever purchase any goods, from a business registered with the Chamber of Commerce. They certainly are not for the people, nor, the small business merchants. To me they will stay, in the untouchables. My rule of thumb is, boycott, all the big chain, supermarkets, Wal Mart and such, chain fast foods, Dairy Queens, A&W, and all. Chain restaurants. Every big business outfit I see. I prefer to do without. I buy everything I can, through the underground.

Bill Tieleman said...

Quick point to Anon 1:43 p.m. - the A&W restaurant chain in southern Vancouver Island was very supportive of Fight HST and our petition, providing our canvassers with space to obtain signatures - don't boycott those who helped us!

I should also say that many other businesses, especially restaurants, were on side with our campaign.

Lastly, I am not advocating a boycott here - I am passing on that information for others to make a decision - but please consider all the facts and do your research first.

Anonymous said...

While this is a victory, and a great one at that, I wouldn't go so far as to claim "Total victory..." until Mr. Justice Bauman rules on Vander Zalm's suit claiming, as I understand it, that the manner in which the HST does not conform with s. 53 of the Constitution Act.

If that ruling comes down in favour of Vander Zalm, then it is a total victory.

E.M said...

I like this comment by Ian,and wondered if by any chance Jessica Macdonald was at Court today.

I find it very interesting that this was hatched at Heenan Blaikie's Vancouver office, the home of Geoff Plant - former AG, current lobbyist and government go-between; Peter Gall - Hochstein's lawyer and the government's labour law drafter of choice; and now Jessica MacDonald - former Deputy to the Premier. These people see more of the Premier than his family does.

To me this has the mark of MacDonald, inept and politically naive, with an obvious trail that begins with Plant's op-ed.

And if successful an end that gives recall a huge leg up. "

Unknown said...

Please understand that restaurants in BC fought hard against HST on rest food.
Please continue to support both the chains and the independents

Ian Tostenson
Pres. BC Rest Assn.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say Thank You to all those who worked so hard to bring this public concern to a successful conclusion. People stand together for various causes across our Country, but this one really means a lot as a taxpayer. Your team put in a lot of hours and hard work and despite the political games by a monster called Campbell, you came out on top. I for one am very proud of the whole team.

Guy in Victoria

Unknown said...

The rest industry worked hard against HST and as such, I ask that you please continue to support them whether large or small
Thank you
Ian Tostenson
Pres BC Rest Assn

Anonymous said...

Striking a blow for democracy is important but is there any chance you and Bill could get excited about a more important issue - childhood poverty rates.

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry Bill. It was said, big chains, were big business, as a general guide. Are there any other businesses, that should not be boycotted? Up here, we have no idea, who was helpful. I do not boycott, locally owned restaurants, if they aren't registered with, the C.O.C. We try and support the small business people. However, as a senior, I'll be dammed, if I will pay $14.00, for one chicken. Just before the HST came in, the chain supermarkets, jacked their prices, sky high. My relatives in Alberta, are horrified by the prices in BC. Price gouging, makes me boil. And I will, buy everything I can through the underground, before I will pay those greedy supermarkets, one cent of my money. They are disgusting. Anything I need from the store, is purchased, from a local merchant, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Statistics Canada marks the HST

Consumer prices advanced 2.0% in British Columbia during the 12-month period to July after a 0.5% increase in June. In July, electricity prices rose 36.7% and prices for food purchased from restaurants increased 7.5%. As well, prices at the pump and homeowner's replacement costs went up.

Consumer Price Index - July 2010

Laila Yuile said...

Hi Bill, I received an email from Ian this afternoon, asking me to remove White Spot from my list,since they were a restaurant and as such, had also been active in fighting against the HST prior to it's implementation.

I made it clear to Ian that I very carefully, and thoughtfully, selected my list of businesses to boycott, and that it was only after discovering that the parent company was a long time corporate donor to the Liberals that I felt compelled to add White Spot to the list.

I can't tell you who to boycott,I can only give you the information you need to make choices that work for you- that being said,I felt the companies I chose were large enough to appeal to a Provincial base of people,all were members of one of the organizations behind the legal challenge, and all were BC Liberal donors.

Please,do not go about randomly boycotting every business, but research and ask like we did.
Boycotts initiated soley by anger with no reason or thought is useless to the goal.

Choose your targets carefully and wisely with thought to who they ultimately support, and how much influence they really have - politically.

We appreciate all the supportive feedback and assistance as we work in different manners to achieve the same goal!

Beth said...

Wow what an amazing effort thank you for all your hard work and for not giving up..

Crankypants said...

A tip of the hat to Justice Bauman for seeing through the bogus court challenge brought forth by the Howe Streeters.

John Winter was on Christy Clark's show this afternoon still spinning the same tune about clarity, which according to him, Justice Bauman didn't address. Well, Mr. Winter, I think that the fact that your court action was rejected is clear enough to most of us.

Mr. Tostenson. I have heard you and Mark Von Shellwitz of the Canadian Food & Restaurant Association speak many times about the HST and think you both have been playing both sides on this issue. You dislike the impact the HST will have on your members but care not about the impact it imposes on the general public. Your organizations have been big backers of Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberal Party from the getgo and have found out that when you go to bed with a snake, you just might get bit.

As far as I'm concerned, there is no reason to give the restaurant chains that belong to the Chamber of Commerce a free pass. If they are feeling the pain, they can always opt out and make a public announcement to that effect and we will act accordingly.

poor boy said...

At 4:07 PM PDT Anonymous said... "Striking a blow for democracy is important but is there any chance you and Bill could get excited about a more important issue - childhood poverty rates."

Your irony is hilarious, Anonymous.

I can only assume you are being ironic - I do not think anyone would be so stone-cold STUPID as to literally mean what you wrote.

poor boy said...

Crankypants At 9:28 PM PDT - what a great comment!

Mr. Tostenson and Mark Von Shellwitz of the Canadian Food & Restaurant Association really have been playing both sides on this issue. Their organizations have been big backers of Gordo Campbell and the BC Liberal Party. But, Gordo the Great bit them in the asp, anyways.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments here - this has literally been a victory for the people of BC - who responded to the citizens Initiative in an amazing way!

It is also a victory for the thousands of canvassers and volunteers who spent countless hours making sure the Fight HST petition was successful - it is an honour to be one of your public representatives.

Fight HST has had an amazing team of organizers as well who aren't in the media like me but who have been critical to our efforts - I can't say enough about their work - without it we would have failed.

Cheryl, Sal, Patricia, Rick, Rainer, Annie and so many more - thank you so much!

As to questions posed here, to Anon 4:07 p.m., I have written extensively on child poverty in BC, on disability benefits cuts and on shutting down needed programs like Chimo Achievement - search this blog and you will find them all.

Lastly, the restaurant industry and its associations have strongly opposed the HST.

I regret that they have not supported Fight HST directly but there is no question that their efforts have assisted our success.

Those who are unhappy with the CRFA have expressed their view, as has Ian Tostenson - I can't change minds but I very much appreciate Ian's kind comments here and the public position he and Mark Von Schellwitz have taken against the HST.

Everyone has to decide what their role is and what they can do - together we can still defeat the HST and reverse the foolish decision the BC Liberal government made that has alienated both friend and foe.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Bill but unless you can get Carole James and the NDP to commit to eliminating the HST if the NDP can get elected the HST is going nowhere. So why not threaten to recall NDP’ers unless they promise to get rid of the HST ?

Paul said...

@Ian Tostenson

From "An Open Letter to my Industry Colleagues Regarding the Harmonization Announcement"

The good news is that the government has been very sensitive to the small business community in the past, and with this, along with the great working relationship that we have with the Premiere, I believe we can achieve a positive outcome.

Our effectiveness as an organization was proven in the last election, and we will use that strength and credibility to find an acceptable outcome to this serious issue.

Ian Tostenson
British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

So how is the last election working out for you Mr. Tostenson?

I notice that Gordon Campbell appointed you as a member of the Climate Action Team and Small Business Rountable.

Good for you.

I also notice that since 2005 the BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association has donated $8,852.00 to the BC LIBERAL PARTY.

Good for them.

"Continue to support them"?

Absolutely not.

I refuse to pay the Pinocchio tax on anything I consume.

What a great friend Pinocchio turned out to be for you.

Anonymous said...

Bill you've said here on a number of occasions that we shouldn't be boycotting all restaurants and other businesses because they may not be part of the business association group's that launched a lawsuit to stop the hst recall, however by your saying in your last comment "Those who are unhappy with the CRFA ....." you did mean it to be the
CRFA - Canadian Restaurant and Food services Association BUT that acronym could also mean "Canadian Renewable Fuels Association" or "Cancer Research Foundation of America (CRFA)"

This is a very volatile political time where acronym's shouldn't be used when clarity is extremely important.

Bill Tieleman said...

I think in a discusson of restaurants CRFA would not be taken to mean the Cancer Research Foundation of America!

Yes, I meant the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. Good grief.

Anonymous said...

The HST and the provincial budget, were very poorly planned. Thousands of BC people are still not back on their feet, from the recession. The 51 mills that were shut down, has destroyed the economy in the northern parts of BC. Our mill jobs went to China, along with our raw logs. There are citizens all over BC, who don't have enough money to live on. Where is the sense, taxing people, who don't have the ability to pay? Our gratitude for Van Der Zalm and crew, is boundless.

Paul said...

@6:46 AM PDT

Google = "CRFA"

CRFA - Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

"The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) represents foodservice operators, including restaurants, bars, cafeterias and social and ..."

Both of these websites belong to the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

Both of these links will take you to the same homepage

Anonymous said...

I thought the CRFA stood for the:

"Center for Research and Fieldwork in Anthropology"

So I sent them a scathing letter for supporting the HST. Darn You Bill for misleading all of us potheads. None of us even remotely approach the intelligence of our premier.

Get lost PAB scum.

Anonymous said...

Ian Tostenson,

A few words on Bill's blog are cheap. About as cheap as it gets and frankly unimpressive. Please tell CTV, CKNW and Global, etc your feelings about the HST and this government. Once I see that I'll reconsider your position and stop telling everyone I meet about your support of this government.

Vote with your wallet Ian. Go public LOUD AND CLEAR.

Bill Tieleman said...

Hmmm - let's see - we have the CRFA and BCRA who ran a campaign opposing the HST before it was imposed - albeit focused solely on the tax on food - and we have 6 big business groups who went to court to overturn the Fight HST citizens Initiative.

And we are spending time here criticizing the restaurant associations?

Focus, people, focus!

Anonymous said...


Canadian Tire - member of the Western Convenience Stores association,one of the 6 associations behind the legal challenge that fully supports the HST.

7-11 - also a member of the Western Convenience Stores Association, and a large contributor to the BC Liberal Party

Kal Tire - member of the BC Chamber of Commerce,and a corporate contributor to the BC Liberal party

Shato Holdings Ltd.( White Spot and The Vancouver Giants) - Member of the BC Chamber of Commerce and a contributor to the BC Liberal Party.

All Pacific Western Brewing Beers - A member of the BC Chamber of Commerce, and a very large corporate contributor to the BC Liberals, this choice really hurts me because this brewery is from my home town of Prince George.

Brian Revel said...

Enough farting around. Forget the legislature. The government has lost the confidence of the electorate on a money bill. The government should resign.

Heck- even the base coalition behind the BC Liberals can't get what they want done when they reveal themselves in the stark light of the courtroom.

So if this government does not resign, then recall does seem to be the next logical step- regardless of the outcome of this initiative.

Kam Lee said...

Why do we think this criminal gordo the imapler and his useless gang should not be recalled? We must keep the pressure on them. If we don't, gordo will have his friends again slow down the proceedings. Onward to RECALL friends. Then , please let not forget gordo's lil sticky fingers in the sale of BC Rail. All I know if there was any other party doing this, the MSM would be screaming their little heads off. Boycott the big boys, and then the MSM bullies. Stop buying that bird droppings catcher The sun & province.... power to the people!

Anonymous said...

So far so good, but if the BC Liberals are dumped off in recall, we still have the HST.

The NDP has said they would not get rid of the HST, their public answer has been "we'll renegotiate". So we will still have the HST. They have said nothing about getting rid of the HST. Renegotiating does not mean removal of the HST. Either you get rid of it or you don't.

What's next? Recall the NDP MLAs because none of them have explicity said they would get rid of the HST? I would include them too if they don't get smart and state they will get rid of the HST as soon as they become government, and without waiting for the contract to expire in 2015 (that means we still will have 5 to 4 years of HST!!).

A free vote just simply isn't going to happen.

VanderZalm's legislation? Not going to pass.

Referendum? Too expensive and doesn't mean anything. Wouldn't happen until the fall of 2011 (around the same time as civic elections).

Recall? Wouldn't happen until the Spring of 2011. Dump the BC Liberals? Possible, but still would not get rid of the HST unless the NDP gets the courage to do so within 6 months of becoming government.

and what would the HST be replaced with? and the cost of resetting retail systems?

A real mess. The NDP won't get rid of it they will see the revenue generated, and the most we can hope to see from them is a light reduction in the amount charged probably down to 10%.

Anonymous said...

12:18 you're forgetting the Carbon Tax. The NDP promised to get rid of it well before the HST came along and its the Carbon Tax that stops the BC Liberals from reducing the HST. I say kill two birds with one stone, cut the Carbon Tax mumbo jumbo out and reduce the HST.

Anonymous said...

When is Barinder Sall's next court date?..... campaign manager for Kash Heed who won his MLA seat with the narrowest of victories by use of a ruse, illegal under Election BC rules.

Stan Mortensen said...

The Liberal government is now in a severe bind, there is virtually nothing they can do or say that is going change public opinion in the near term. As I see it:

1. If the Standing Committee refers the petition to the Legislative Assembly and the members are whipped and likely forced to vote down the proposed Act – Recall will commence.

2. If the Legislative Assembly does not meet in the fall to deal with the proposed Act and waits until spring – Recall will commence.

3. If the Standing Committee refers the matter to a non-binding referendum for September, 2011 – Recall will commence.

Minister Hansen just does not seem to get what is going on here. He is assuming that the voters do not understand HST and its’ implications which is a very dangerous assessment. In point of fact, most voters understand that there would be many items that would remain essentially the same, taxation wise.

It was the blatant and ham-fisted method by which they proceeded on top of other concerns and issues that has raised the ire of the voters. There was and certainly has been, not only at the provincial level, a sense in government that the voters are stupid, ignorant and not able to comprehend complex issues affecting their everyday lives.

There is only so much that the voters can forgive and turn a blind eye to, the HST debacle was like pointing a stick into the remaining good eye.

Will recall be successful; I think that it will be especially in the rural areas of the province which have traditionally voted along free enterprise lines. These folks feel totally betrayed and set upon by this government.