This morning as I was driving into work, I had the radio tuned to CBC Radio One, and I was listing to Premier Christy Clark Talking about the results of the HST Referendum. What was odd, from my point of view, was her focus on the “Plan B.” This was odd because the results were not yet released, and she was talking about her pending defeat four hours before the results were to be released. Suspicious, but she is government, so sure; I’m sure hundreds of people knew well before the release of the results.
So I as listened to her babel on about how the government is going to listen to the people and obey the results, it dawned on me that it does not matter. The tax, whether this one, or a new one, the likelihood of an increase is inevitable because the government only needs to ramp up the old PST to match revenue lost from the HST—so simple—and yet so true. As taxed beaten as we are now, I believe we have not seen anything yet. Sure the voters dealt a shot over the bow of the Liberal’s ship, but they hold us hostage with their majority government in Victoria.
As news officially hit the Twittervers that the HST was overwhelmingly voted out of existence, my colleagues, most from the political right, were somewhat confused. It is funny because, they choose the HST because it was the best out of the two evils for them, yet, fighting in favour of a tax goes against every fibre of their been. It was cute to see because, as our accountant put it, “what does this mean…?”
Like good sports, they all agreed that they were going to put their faith into the government, and they hoped that the next eighteen months would be a smooth one for them. Yes, “faith in government…?”
My take on this—I am glad that the British Columbia Government got a taste of the voter anger from the 1.6 million voters who took the time to mail in their ballots. With 54.73 voting to scrap the HST, not for one second was this referendum about the practicality and good government management of the HST and its affairs. This was about a sloppy, megalomaniac Premier who resigned because he lied to the people of whom he represented. This was a vengeance vote, a vote directed at the confidence of the government by its people. I was stunned when the tax appeared back then, right after I heard our leader say at the time that he would not implement the HST. So now, here we are, as one of the only jurisdictions that have recall legislation, we used this valuable tool at our own government, and it seems to be a bitter pill to swallow, but for most us, this was the medicine that we needed.
Do I regret what we have done?
Not really. I see a silver lining out of all this. As a consumer, my buying habits have change a lot since the 2009 meltdown. Buying gas in the US, shopping for bargains and making due with less, has already created a more adaptable environment based on living with the HST. Reverting back to the old style PST only means that old customs of living will easily become reacquainted ones again. I think businesses who are crying about the loss of HST should really look forward and think about the future—their survival depends on it.
Some cool links about the Vote, and the HST.