Wednesday, September 01, 2010

"Devastating" BC government news on HST prompts major damage control - Finance Minister Colin Hansen calling media personally - embargoed till 4 p.m.

Gordon Campbell and Colin Hansen announce HST on July 23, 2009

URGENT UPDATE - Finance Minister Colin Hansen was briefed on HST negotiations in March 2009 - months before BC election; government suppressed report saying if HST imposed BC would lose jobs and economic growth for up to 5 years!

As predicted here a short time ago, the BC government has disclosed that Hansen was briefed on negotiations between Finance Ministry bureaucrats and federal government officials about implementing the HST in BC months before the May 12, 2009 provincial election.

The obvious conclusion - Hansen and Premier Gordon Campbell deliberately and repeatedly misled both the public and restaurant and new home builder associations about the status of the HST before the election to avoid damaging political fallout that could have cost them victory. is reporting that 140 pages of documents requested under the Freedom Of Information Act have been released, in response to FOI requests filed by several media outlets. Parts of the documents released have been "severed" or blacked out by government officials

The Vancouver Sun is reporting that the government also knew in advance of a C.D. Howe Institute study that warned imposing the HST in BC "will cause a short-term loss" in economic growth and employment.

“Part of the reason is that the negative effect of higher consumption taxes occurs faster than the positive effect of lower taxes on investment goods and exports. The study suggests that it may take five or more years before the impact on GDP is positive and even longer for real wages and job numbers to recover,” assistant deputy Finance Minister Glen Armstrong wrote in a March 12, 2009 briefing note to Hansen, according to Rob Shaw of the Victoria Times Colonist.

But Hansen is denying he was involved in HST negotiations.

“None of this stuff was at the request of anybody at the political level. ... I had never asked for anything to do with HST, nor to the best of my knowledge had any finance minister in our government or any other cabinet minister in our government including the premier, ever asked for any information to be prepared on HST,” Hansen told Shaw.



What "devastating" government documents about the Harmonized Sales Tax are being selectively released to major media in a carefully orchestrated damage control exercise?

UPDATE - I have now clarified that most Victoria press gallery media filed a joint FOI request which the government responded to today - rumours that it was "selectively released" were incorrect - the material was given to all media who filed the FOI.

Finance Minister Colin Hansen is reportedly making individual calls to media outlets this afternoon, with the information embargoed until 4 p.m., several reliable sources tell me.

Rumours suggest the documents show the government - contrary to all past public statements - was very much involved in detailed discussions with the federal Conservative government prior to the May 12, 2009 provincial election.

That would contradict everything said previously after the July 23, 2009 announcement of the HST - that the government only began talks with Ottawa three days after the election - and would blow another gaping hole in the credibility of Hansen, Campbell and the BC Liberal government that is already in dire straits due to public opposition to the HST.

Could the documents also include previously undisclosed studies on the impact of the HST?

Highly possible.

Stay tuned to your major media - and this blog - for details when they become available.



Solange said...

I cant wait to see them wear egg on their face! I will be watching your blog closely as the day unfolds Bill!

Anonymous said...

If it is truly "devastating", hopefully the real news will leak out prior to their inevitable obfuscating cover-up being the first story about it. He who gets the press first establishes the "truth", leaving anything else - no matter how factual - in the attention void that follows.

So thanks for getting the pointer out first, Bill. At least we have our BS-Detectors set on "full" now!

pip said...

egg is not good enough Solange. This government needs to be voted out of mla at a time.

Anonymous said...

CKNW is on the case, and spinning the story already.

Victoria burro chief Sean Lesley says the government was in discussion with Ottawa about the HST, but the documents indicate it was staff to staff, not political.

And Hansen said he can't RECALL seeing the documents.

Anonymous said...

Lying, cheating bastards!
"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

Gary E said...

Actually pip, with this type of information the past election should be declared null and void. The whole thing was a lie.

cherylb said...

As far as I am concerned, today's revelations negate the results of the May 2009 election and this is now an illegal government. Unfortunately, they have no morals or integrity and will not leave willingly, so we will have to toss them out on their ear. All politicans must be taught that they will not be rewarded for lies told or important facts omitted for the sole purpose of being elected. Recall in the fall!

Anonymous said...

Has Hansen been taking pointers from Martyn Brown?

DPL said...

You picked a bad time to go on holidays. Gordo left town for a couple of weeks, leaving the lying to Hansen

Anonymous said...

I have lost confidence in this government as I am sure most have.

Can they be forced out due to a complete lack of confidence?

Willy P said...

Anyone else getting the odour of smoldering slacks every time Huggies or Campbell open their pieholes? It's pitiful to watch the Liberal circus try to perform with no big top and the performing seals just clapping their collective hands in hope Gordo tosses them a sardine. Don't ANY of these backbench numbnuts get it? The cabinet is holding on to get the meathooks into the gravy train pension,(that they swore they'd NEVER take) but surely to God just FREAKING ONE has to have the morals to stop stepping in the Liberal lawn chocolates and walking on the carpet. But maybe not....

Anonymous said...

The Mulroney Defense

It is all the media's fault
because they didn't ask the right questions!

Anonymous said...

Indeed, the media did not ask about the HST during the election. When they did mention taxation, it was usually in reference to the NDP's Scrap the Carbon Tax campaign.

Does anyone remember the carbon tax???

Heck, there was even a story in a New York Times blog about our almost revolutionary new tax scheme.

We got two new taxes, not just one!
And this from a government that once claimed to be in favour of tax cuts!!!

The best we can hope for is to force this flock of free-enterprise free-loaders out of office.

Anonymous said...

The Vancouver Sun has just reported that the government spent $780,000 on HST mailers (that they didn't send).

Operating rooms closed in August and they spend that kind of money (I'm one of those waiting for surgery).

Here's the link:

Flabbergasting. How much did it cost for the petition initiative? Betcha not $780,000.

Paul said...

Rafe Mair, - (former British Columbia Social Credit Party MLA)

12 Apr 2010,

"When asked about the HST during the election, Finance Minister Colin Hansen said it wasn’t even on the "radar."

"Remarkably, a few weeks later, it was announced as done!"

"I’ve been there, folks, and I can tell you that these things don’t happen overnight."

"I can say with confidence that Hansen’s people were talking to the feds months before last May’s election."

Rafe correctly called this one five months ago.

Anonymous said...

Where's Gordo?

Paul said...

Here is Carole James' audio reaction today on the CBC.

Carole James (@01:40)

I asked the question of both of them.

Were there any briefing notes?
Any e-mails?
Any documents around the HST?

Both of them said no in the legislature on the record
Would anyone care to go through Hansard to confirm that both Campbell and Hansen said no to these questions "on the record" in the legislature.

Here's todays CBC audio file of Carole James (MP3)

Crankypants said...

"Not on our radar" is not an appropriate response to a question about whether the government was in negotiations with the federal government on adopting the HST before the last provincial election. The appropriate answer is either "yes" or "no".

"Not on our radar" can imply a negative response, but in legalise would probably be ruled anbiguous at best.

Campbell and Hansen must be forced to answer with a simple yes or no to have their response officially on the record. If they refuse to be forthright then it is up to the electorate to determine whether they are being forthright or avoiding taking responsibility for their actions.

AS things sit now, it is conceivable that some enterprising party, not political, could challenge whether the results of the last provincial election were valid. Politicians may be able to stretch the truth to a point during an election campaign, but are they legitimate winners when they purposefully hide their intentions during said campaign then lie about immediately after the ballots are counted?

I think not. If we are ever going to have any modicum of confidence in our political system, we must be afforded straightforward answers to straightforward questions. Nothing else will suffice.

Ron said...

K-Tel presents BC's favourite Rock Group , "Gordon Campbell and the Deceivers" sing your favourite songs of the past decade of deceit, including:

Colin Hansen's favourite -" Ask Me no Questions and I'll Tell You No Lies" and

a duet with Gordoccio Campbell - " Our Cheatin Hearts"

Anonymous said...

$780,000 on HST propaganda mailers that were never sent out is bad news - worse news is that $250,000 of that $780,000 was spent designing the mailer.

Who in their right mind would pay $250,000 to have a pamphlet designed?

Who got the $250,000 contract to design the pamphlet?

Was there an open bid for the design contract?

Did any of that $250,000 in taxpayer money ended up back in the BC Liberal Party's coffers in the form of campaign donations?

Has anybody actually seen this infamous $250,000 document?

Isn't it 'convenient' that this FOI story is being run while Chairman Campbell is on vacation isn't it.

Stan Mortensen said...

What is really disgusting is the lack of outrage spewing forth from the talk show group.
Being old enough to remember Jack Webster and Pat Burns, if they were still alive, they would be roasting this government on air steadily without any hesitation and without mercy.

Anonymous said...

Good Greif Charlie Brown.

Time to think of a nice sunny long weekend rather than this crap.

Still waiting to hear from the NDP if they would get rid of the HST within six months of assuming government. All we hear from them is that "we'll enter renegotiations". What a farce the NDP is. Either you keep it or ya don't. Simple.

and the Conservative Party? Coming apart like a cheap suit. Refederation? Meets in a phone booth and wouldn't have enough people to canvass a block in a subdivision.

Poeple here? More bravado and not enough effort in 2009 to elect the NDP.

Think of it. If all of you nuts here worked your butts off in 2009 to elect the NDP, none of this mess would be here.

More commentary on things that have been in the MSN. Big deal. Nothing new.

and VanderZalm? Hero to zero and wants to be hero. Read about his government. It was alot worse than Campbell's.

Screw it. Have a nice long weekend.

Ian said...

The first Liberal insider has called for Hansen's resignation. I've posted about it on my blog,

cherylb said...

And so it begins...they are now turning on themselves. First Liberal insider calls for Huggie's head.

cherylb said...

Sorry. Complete link.

Anonymous said...

"British Columbia's finance minister says staff in his ministry were researching the possibility of switching to the harmonized sales tax on their own accord, even though they knew he did not support the HST"

I can't help wonder what the 'renegade staff' of the Attorney General is research the possibility of switching to... slave labour prison camps for the homeless??, or the Ministry of Education...age 2 as the mandatory age for entering school??? If these government employees are working in direct opposition to the policies and platforms of our elected politicians then we really are in trouble.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 8:07:
"Who in their right mind would pay $250,000 to have a pamphlet designed? "

Exactly the question I asked. I was gobsmacked when I read that number. Has anyone asked for a line-by-line breakdown of that invoice?

I do print and web design for a living and I can't for the life of me figure out how it could cost so much -- $250,000 to design ONE pamphlet! Something an experienced graphic designer could easily do in a day. Hell, your average freelance designer wouldn't make that kind of dough in a year!

Something is not right with those numbers, the media needs to get to the bottom of it.

Stan Mortensen said...

Bill, don't you just hate when you go away for a well deserved rest and the you know what hits the fan.

And holy crap did it ever!!!

That'll teach you to try to take time away.

Like most of your readers, excepting the PAB, look forward to your actual real return although I suspect you haven't been able too get to unplugged from events.

Evalynn said...

DPL said...
You picked a bad time to go on holidays. Gordo left town for a couple of weeks, leaving the lying to Hansen

I haven't stopped laughing all day. Unless there is an audio recording of either Tweedle-Gordo or Tweedle-Hansen discussing pre-election plans to bring in HST then there is no better evidence of their lies. And what is the outcome? More denials. Why is that DPL, Bill, pip, cherylb and anybody else who thinks the petition wasn't a waste of time? Because nobody has a perceivable threat to them. Our democracy is so pathetic it's laughable. As for Crankpants, Gary E and cherylb, let's not consider campaign lies as grounds for invalidating election results because then we would have to go through that STV referendum again also.

DPL said...

a Liberal friendly company sure made a lot of bucks in a hurry? But it seems that anything goes when working with a government that sees nothing wrong with paying off their friends. How many so called elective surgeries and MRI's could have been done with that much money? But of course our non caring governent doesn't see things that way.

Anonymous said...

What does "Devasting" mean in the lead in to this article?

Better get your spell checker looked at.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks to Anon 7:45 - the only reader to catch my headline typo!

But I think "Devasting" could be a new word whose meaning is to describe what BC Liberals do to the province on a regular basis! ;)

Anonymous said...

I read, the F.O.I. documents, were not examined properly. Hansen was on TV, making that statement. The documents were misread.

So, back to page one.

North Van's Grumps said...

As of October 2009, Jessica MacDonald, Deputy to the Premier, head of the BC Public Service, packed her bags and left the HST mess to be explained by Colin Hansen. If you believe his hogwash, that his ministry was using their own imitative, then you'll also believe that a new bridge to be built to replace the aging Pattullo on the Fraser River, will remain toll free!

Anonymous said...

Glenda Luymes writes in The Province: The NDP has filed a complaint with the privacy commissioner over the results of a media Freedom of Information request showing the B.C. government was looking at the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) before the last election.

“We asked for the same documents, but we were told there were no such records,” NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said Saturday. “It’s interesting. Actually, I’d go further to say it’s disturbing.”


The privacy commissioner has now launched an investigation into the results of the NDP’s FOI request as well as one by the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, an advocacy group that directed its request to Premier Gordon Campbell’s office last year and also received a negative response.

“It raises questions about what’s happening,” said the association’s communications director Vincent Gogolek, adding the results of the media FOI are like a “smoking gun,” proving the documents the association asked for did exist.

Anonymous said...

Donna Barnett is the Cariboo-Chilcotin BC Liberal MLA (think Williams Lake, home of disgruntled gadfly Scott Nelson - the former mayor of Williams Lake). This is Barnett's first term as MLA - she is the former mayor of 100 Mile House and has deep roots in the area. About 45% of the voters in Barnett's riding signed the antiHST petition... Makes one wonder who else Nelson was speaking for.


An anonymous editorial writer at The Globe and Mail has informed readers that "Mr. Hansen's recent comment that he gave it at best a cursory glance is plausible enough." That invisible writer must be thinking that Hansen was so busy ignoring the massively mushrooming deficit - what's a BILLION dollars between taxpayers? - that Hansen should be forgiven for missing messages.

North Van's Grumps said...

Wait a minute, according to Wikipedia on the topic of the "BC Liberal Party", the Deputy Ministers have been answering to the Chief of Staff, one Martyn Brown, since 2003.