In Your Corner: Communities will put end to HST

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It’s a good thing that the Creston Valley Blossom Festival is here to liven up our spirits. I am really looking forward to the parade and walking around downtown Creston — so much so that I spoke about it in the B.C. legislature. You can watch the speech online at www.michellemungall.com, in the news section. The Blossom Festival is also such a wonderful reprieve from something I am very frustrated about here in the legislature.

First, I should say how great it is to be back in the house. After 11 months with only four days of session, we are finally back to do the job British Columbians elected us to do. While the BC Liberal government has only called us back for a month (not nearly enough time to do our jobs properly), my BC NDP colleagues and I are using every second of it to speak for B.C. families.

Much of the time in the house is captured by the big issue that hits every single person’s pocketbook: the harmonized sales tax. It is on this issue that I find my level of frustration growing at rapid pace.

Try as we might, we just can’t pin the BC Liberals down to a single honest statement on the HST. The minister of finance will say one thing, and then the minister of transportation will say the opposite. For example, we have been asking the minister of finance if he will honour the intentions of the people’s referendum and commit to reinstating the PST with its previous exemptions. After two weeks, he has flat out refused to do so. When I specifically asked him about these exemptions that would see vitamins, bicycles, school supplies and energy-saving appliances be seven per cent less than they are now, his response was nothing more than bafflegab. You can see the exchange by watching the video on my website under news.

When the minister of transportation said that indeed they would restore previous exemptions under the PST when the HST is voted down, we asked the finance minister which of them was telling the truth. Again, no upfront, straightforward answers for you, the people of this province.

Most recently, the BC Liberals have claimed that they are neutral on the HST as they launched a $7 million advertising campaign to sell you on the tax — that’s right, they’re using your money to do it. Such a claim is ludicrous at best. The BC Liberals’ credibility hangs in the wind, and if the tax is voted down they will have to admit that they lied to B.C. families during the 2009 election. That is enough to make them extremely biased.

But there is more. They have been promoting the HST since the day they betrayed British Columbians and announced it. To now say they are neutral is just another betrayal.

My BC NDP colleagues and I have stood with British Columbians and small businesses against the HST. We all know that the HST is a major tax shift, taking over $1 billion off the tax rolls of big corporations (and BC Liberal donors) and putting it on our backs. Each one of us is paying more and small businesses are struggling.

It’s now up to us. We can stop the HST by marking our ballots in the referendum. The BC Liberals’ dishonesty is frustrating, but our communities are uplifting. Together we will demand fair taxation, we will demand the truth, and we will get it.

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall is the NDP Opposition critic for advanced education, youth and labour market development.