The “democratic” process in British Columbia is flawed. Democracy only works when every person who is eligible to vote does so, and this never happens. Therefore, true democracies won’t work unless citizens apply common-sense to the governing process.
If the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers that an expression of public opinion is desirable on any matter of public interest or concern, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may order that a referendum be conducted. I don’t believe the referendum on the HST should have been ordered. I don’t believe that referendums should be conducted on issues relating to good governance, which include letting the public set tax rates, nor do I believe that this was the intent of the Referendum Act. Otherwise, why do we have MLAs? We could vote on every issue: provincial budgets, health, infrastructure, schooling, wages, income tax, sales tax, etc. If a law, or application of that law, is not right then it is wrong and must be put right.
It may be possible that the federal government, with whom an agreement has been made and is the responsible authority for administration of the HST, could challenge the cancellation of the tax, or demand immediate reimbursement of monies paid, with interest.
Of the approximately three million eligible voters in this province, only 1.6 million voted. That leaves 1.4 million who either didn’t care or didn’t understand. So the anti-HST group received 55 per cent of the 1.6 million who voted; however, they then have only received 29 per cent of eligible votes. That leaves 71 per cent of the citizens who agreed with the HST, didn’t understand, or didn’t care.
This is the “democratic process” in B.C. — 29 per cent of the eligible voters (including the NDP members catering to the public outcry) have dictated the future revenues of this province. I am well aware that if more than 50 per cent of cast ballots vote the same way, then the referendum is binding. But this has opened the door to special-interest groups who are able to rally their troops to enforce their agenda. Issues such as taxation should never have fallen under the aegis of the Referendum Act, nor do I believe that that was the original intent of the legislation. This legislation has to be re-examined and clarified, for the good of the province. It is time for a party to do what is right, not what is popular — they might be pleasantly surprised at the support gained.
Certain things must be dealt with at election time, not via referendums. Just my opinion.