The Grand Forks Gazette recently had the opportunity to talk with former premier Bill Vander Zalm to discuss the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Here is part of that conversation.
While the movement to defeat HST in B.C. was successful, one of the major proponents of the anti-HST movement said the fight isn’t over.
Former Premier Bill Vander Zalm said that the anti-HST forces will be back in action in about a month or so to dispute the pace at which the HST will be extinguished amongst other things, and may even introduce a petition to have the unpopular tax extinguished immediately.
“The whole ‘Fight HST’ organization has been on hold a little bit since we successfully completed the referendum but we didn’t think that (the provincial government) would take 18 months to two years to get rid of it after the people have spoken so clearly,” Vander Zalm told The Gazette.
“We think that if they brought it in in a couple of months, they can take it away in a couple of months. They could’ve called the legislature back the day after the (referendum), they could’ve gone to Ottawa the week after the people voted; they could’ve had it all done by now.”
Following the HST referendum, the B.C. Liberals announced a plan to re-implement the previous Provincial and Goods and Services tax (PST and GST) regime that would take upwards of the aforementioned 18 months.
During that transition period, the government said that the provincial portion of the HST would remain at seven per cent and Vander Zalm had issues with that.
“I know what they’re doing. They want to take in a lot of extra revenue to sort of offset their debt and, of course, the big beneficiaries in all of that are big corporations buying their equipment,” explained Vander Zalm.
“The equipment is all made in the U.S.A. so I don’t know what the benefit to us here for that, directly at least,” he said, adding that it didn’t make sense.
As part of the HST extinguishing, the government will have to borrow to pay back a $1.6 billion transition fund to the federal government and Vander Zalm estimates that both have collected a lot of money from the HST.
“They (the B.C. Liberals) have already collected, I’m guessing, well in excess of $1 billion from the HST and the federal government, I’m guessing, has collected probably getting close to about $350, $400 million in corporate income taxes that they didn’t collect before,” he said.
“There’s been enough money taken from the consumers already to cover the $1.6 billion.”