The provincial government wants to sell you on the wonders of the Harmonized Sales Tax. Not surprising, since they are the major proponents of the Yes side in the referendum scheduled for September, which will decide the future of the reconfigured sales tax system.
The problem is the money they are spending to convince the voting public to forget the skullduggery that accompanied the introduction of the HST and focus on the benefits of keeping it, or the costs associated with going back to the old system.
But the money they are spending to do this? Well, it’s tax money. Your money. The No side is going to be spending a lot of your money too, but at least they are asking you to give it willingly, rather than diverting it from other uses.
It’s hard to put a figure on how much the province is spending on the HST referendum — Tom Syer, head of the HST information office, is reportedly being paid $190,000 to do the job — but you can be sure that the amount will continue to go up as the referendum date approaches.
Even the money for the latest panel of four experts who will be investigating the tax and doing a factual analysis of the HST/No HST question and reporting their results directly to the voters — it’s only $20,000, they say, but just imagine how far a food bank or the Soupateria could stretch that money in their quest to provide a social safety net that the government has given up on.
Rather than drag this out for another nine months, we suggest the Liberals just bite the bullet and admit that this referendum is going to be a tough one to win. After all, how many people, even supporters of the HST, are going to go out of their way to vote in support of a tax?
Then, the government can trot out whatever compromise plan they are undoubtedly already working on in the event of losing the referendum, and the province, merchants and people of B.C. can get on with business.