VICTORIA – British Columbia’s final weekend of paying the HST is a reminder of the mismanagement that has plagued the Liberals’ entire term in office since the last election, say the New Democrats.
“The last term of the Liberal government began with the HST deception – the implementation of a $1.9 billion tax shift onto the backs of consumers just two months after an election in which they promised not to,” said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston. “With just a few days to go before the next election gets underway, the Liberal term is ending with a rocky transition back to the PST, leaving many businesses feeling very uncertain and unprepared.
“It took the Liberals 11 months to implement the HST, but 19 months to get rid of it. What’s worse, the Liberals left businesses in the dark right up to the last minute about key transition rules and regulations.”
Ralston said in between the implementation of the HST and the province-wide referendum where British Columbians decisively voted it down, the Liberals made a series of bungled attempts to save it, wasting millions of public dollars in the process.
The B.C. Liberal government wasted $780,000 of public funds on a glossy pro-HST pamphlet that went straight to the shredder. Shortly after, they mounted a taxpayer-funded $7 million stick-person campaign that directed viewers to a pro-HST government website.
In March of 2011, Premier Clark said, "We aren't going to be talking about trying to reduce it by a point or two before the referendum. I mean, I think people will see that as buying them with their own money.” But then she proceeded to do exactly that when she tried to woo voters with the promise of reducing the HST before the referendum vote.
Ralston said voters saw through the premier’s attempt to buy their votes and the HST was soundly defeated.
“The Liberals should have spent less money desperately trying to hold on to the tax shift and less time trying to bully British Columbians into supporting an HST they were lied to about,” said Ralston. “Instead, the Liberals should have been focused on governing the province in a prudent manner."
Ralston said it isn’t surprising that British Columbians are tired of this government, and it's time for the Liberals to spend some time in opposition.
B.C.'s New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.