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Official Site of the first ever successful Citizen's Initiative Victory followed by an HST Referendum Victory
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FIGHT HST ANNOUNCES WINNER OF “YES TO EXTINGUISH THE HST” YOUTUBE VIDEO CONTEST

FIGHT HST ANNOUNCES WINNER OF “YES TO EXTINGUISH THE HST” YOUTUBE VIDEO CONTEST – $1,000 PRIZE GOES TO NANOOSE BAY WOMAN FOR “IPHONE” HST PARODY

Home-produced video succeeds where millions worth of pro-HST TV ads failed

VANCOUVER – The grassroots Fight HST campaign has awarded a Nanoose Bay woman a $1,000 prize for her online YouTube video that helped the “YES” side win the provincial referendum vote to extinguish the Harmonized Sales Tax.

Cathie Busing’s home-made video helped succeed where a $5 million BC government TV ad campaign featuring “stick men” promoting the HST failed, as did another multi-million ad campaign by the pro-HST Smart Tax Alliance, says Fight HST Strategist Bill Tieleman.

“Cathie’s video is a brilliant parody of an Apple IPhone ad that our Fight HST directors found funny, informational and extremely well produced – ironic given the BC Liberal government spent $5 million to come up with amateurish stick men ads,” Tieleman said.

Busing’s video is online on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpNj9s4OOjU

All the videos, including Busing’s, can be seen online at:

http://fighthst.com/fighthst-youtube-video-contest/

Fight HST Leader and former Premier Bill Vander Zalm said Busing’s video and those of 18 other entrants were all very impressive, particularly considering Fight HST had no money to contribution for production or to broadcast ads on television.

“We said throughout the referendum campaign that British Columbians would not be fooled by slick expensive government advertising with stickmen or big business ads with accountants telling people the HST is good for them,” says Vander Zalm.

“This contest showed that British Columbians who cared about the unfair HST could outperform a multi-million dollar propaganda campaign and win,” he said.

Amateur videographer Busing was thrilled with her win.

“I believe that the Harmonized Sales Tax was wrong from the beginning and my contribution to getting rid of it was to create this YouTube video for Fight HST.  I’m very pleased to win the best video prize but even more happy that the Fight HST effort to extinguish this unfair tax by forcing a referendum was successful,”

Fight HST Organizer Chris Delaney says the work of Busing and thousands of other volunteers was instrumental in countering the strength of the pro-HST forces.

“We were outspent by up to 25 to 1 by the BC government and the Smart Tax Alliance but we won the referendum because of people power,” Delaney said.  “This video contest, lawns signs, door knocking, public events and other efforts beat an advertising spending campaign bigger than we’ve previously seen in any provincial election – pretty impressive.”

Tieleman said funds for the $1,000 prize are coming from volunteer fundraising, not from the $250,000 given to Fight HST by the BC government when both sides received referendum funding.

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FIGHT HST SAYS “YES TO EXTINGUISH” HST REFERENDUM VOTE HISTORIC VICTORY FOR PEOPLE AND DEMOCRACY

Bill Vander Zalm says citizens David beat HST Goliath in mismatched battle

VANCOUVER – British Columbians’ rejection of the Harmonized Sales Tax in today’s binding referendum is historic and a victory for the people and for democracy in BC, says Bill Vander Zalm, the former BC premier who leads Fight HST, the grassroots group that fought the tax.

“British Columbians have not only rejected an unfair tax but they have also sent a message to not just the BC Liberal government but all governments in Canada – do not break your word to voters after you get elected, “ Vander Zalm said.

“The BC Liberals thought they could get away with imposing the HST after promising not to before the May 2009 election – we proved them wrong twice,” Vander Zalm said.

“We organized the first successful citizens Initiative petition in Canadian history to force a referendum, gathering 705,643 voter signatures in less than 90 days from every one of BC’s 85 ridings.”

“Then we were outspent by up to 100 to 1 but still defeated a combined government and big business advertising campaign using TV, radio, newspaper, telephone and Internet worth between $15 and $30 million that was intended to mislead voters.”

“This has truly been a David versus Goliath battle and today the giant HST has been slain,” Vander Zalm said. “It is an enormous victory for the citizens of BC and for democracy.”

Vander Zalm said it is now urgent that the BC Liberal government quickly bring an end to the HST that shifted a $2 billion tax burden onto consumers and off big business by adding an extra 7% tax onto services and hundreds of items not previously subject to the Provincial Sales Tax.

“British Columbians are cancelling major purchases because the HST added costs of tens of thousands of dollars – to items like home repairs and renovations and new homes.  The BC Liberal provincial government and federal Conservative government must repeal the HST as fast as possible because it is hurting the BC economy,” Vander Zalm said.

Vander Zalm said he expects the BC government to refuse to take responsibility for its own actions when it imposed the HST after the May 2009 election and instead paint a picture of economic doom and gloom.

“The reality is that the BC Liberals looked for a quick fix to their massively out of control deficit in 2009 and refused to honestly tell voters about our financial problems,” Vander Zalm said.  “Premier Christy Clark should learn from former Premier Gordon Campbell’s mistakes and consult with voters about BC’s finances and seek a consensus, not make rash decisions in anger at the rejection of the HST.”

“The BC government needs to skilfully negotiate an end to the HST that takes place quickly and reduces costs to the province for this ill-fated mistake,” he said. “The $1.6 billion ‘grant’ from Ottawa to impose the HST should be pro-rated for the period of time this tax was in place, consideration must be given for the $ 30,000,000 + per month the federal government collected in income taxes since the hst refunds to business became a taxable item, and the excess tax revenue BC is collecting from what it claimed was a ‘revenue neutral’ tax should be more than enough to cover any money Ottawa is owed after the negotiations.

Fight HST Lead Organizer, Chris Delaney said the Referendum result would have been even greater vote for the YES side had Premier Clark kept her promise to fund both sides equally and had spending limits been kept in place as it was for the Initiative process.  As it was, our $250,000 less the $25,000 we had to pay in HST out of that, was no match for the estimated $25,000,000 spent by government and big business.

Delaney says a precedent has been set with the HST Referendum: “No government, no matter what their political stripe, can ever again create a new tax, expand the tax base, or indeed implement a significant new policy without first obtaining the people’s permission through either an election or a referendum. The people have spoken, and voters on both sides of the issue agree – you must consult us first.”

“People can debate whether the HST is a good tax or a bad tax, but there was no debate about whether we should have a Referendum or a more robust democracy. That is perhaps the greatest achievement of this whole exercise,” said Delaney.

Fight HST Strategist Bill Tieleman said the defeat of the HST is a victory for both consumers and businesses negatively affected by the HST: “The HST hurts people who can least afford it. Extinguishing the HST will stimulate the economy as consumers begin spending again.”

Tieleman added that despite winning the vote, Fight HST will continue to call for an independent inquiry into the referendum process in order to find improvements for future ballots.

“Too many people did not get their ballots, despite being on the voters list, despite requesting ballots from Elections BC before the deadline,” Tieleman said.  “We want to see a much better process for the next referendum because no one should be denied their democratic rights and we know there will be referenda in the future.”

Vander Zalm said the victory belongs to the people of BC, but most especially to the tens of thousands of volunteers who gave their time, talent and treasure on the Initiative petition that led to the history making referendum result.

“We thank each and every one of you for your tireless efforts in collecting signatures, distributing pamphlets, telling people about the issue, hosting town halls, driving around town on your own fuel to help organize. This is your day for a well deserved celebration!”

Vander Zalm also thanked the other Fight HST Board of Directors and organizers who worked tirelessly for months to coordinate the entire project.

“I want to personally express my deep appreciation for the incredible dedication of the people on our board: Rainer Schmoll who designed, branded, built and maintained the indispensible web site;  Sal Vetro, who took care of all of our printing and logistics for the entire province; Cheryl Baron who organized the captains and thousands of canvassers during the Initiative petition; Corisa Nicole who organized all our volunteers across the province during the referendum; Kelly Carson for her determined fighting; Rick Dignard for his hard work and excellent advice; Jon Peters for his loyal support; and Patricia Storey and Jennifer Strelive for their superb skills as our Financial Agents. Thank you!”

Vander Zalm says he expects the BC government to wind down the HST quickly and return to the PST as it was with the same exemptions as before.

“All the bluffing and threatening is over now. It’s time to respect the will of the electorate and obey the results of the legally binding Referendum and move on. Democracy itself demands it,” Vander Zalm concluded.

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FIGHT HST ASKS WHY 1 VOTER ALLOWED TO SUBMIT LATE BALLOT WHILE THOUSANDS OF OTHERS DENIED

FIGHT HST ASKS WHY ONE VOTER ALLOWED TO SUBMIT LATE BALLOT BY ELECTIONS BC WHILE THOUSANDS OF OTHER VOTERS DENIED DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO VOTE

Elections BC gives Cranbrook voter a ballot after complaint to BC Liberal MLA

VANCOUVER – Fight HST is demanding that Elections BC extend voting rights to thousands of BC voters who were denied a ballot in the HST referendum after learning that a Cranbrook voter was given approval to submit her ballot several days after the official August 5 deadline.

Annette Lagasse was given a “late submission” ballot exemption after Elections BC repeatedly failed to deliver a ballot to her, despite Lagasse calling the agency on four separate occasions before that deadline to complain about not receiving it as promised.

Lagasse also complained about the missing ballot on August 8 by email to her Member of the Legislative Assembly, BC Liberal Bill Bennett, East Kootenay.

On August 9, Lagasse was contacted by email by Tim Strocel, Elections BC Operations Manager. Strocel’s email states that: “I am conducting an investigation into mail delivery failures during the HST Referendum. …..I would like to discuss the circumstances of your voting package with the intention of recommending a late submission.”

Lagasse says Strocel later told her to send her HST referendum ballot directly to him at Elections BC but not to put it in the regular envelope sent to voters or it wouldn’t be counted.

“I shouldn’t have to fight for my right to vote,” Lagasse said Monday. “It’s appalling. They should have extended the deadline as many times as needed for democracy to work.”

“It’s only when your rights are taken away that you realize how important they are,” she says.

Fight HST leader and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm said Lagasse’s case is an exception instead of the rule, with literally thousands of voters having been denied their right to vote.

“Did Annette Lagasse only get her vote after complaining to her BC Liberal MLA? We don’t know but it certainly suggests that any BC voter who asked Elections BC for a ballot but didn’t get one in time to vote should now call their MLA and ask for his or her help,” Vander Zalm said.

“Annette Lagasse had to go to extreme lengths to not only get her ballot but make sure her ballot got counted – how many other British Columbians didn’t have her determination and lost their right to vote because Elections BC made it so difficult to get a ballot in time?” Vander Zalm asked.

Vander Zalm is calling on Elections BC to extend the same democratic right to other voters that it has rightly given Lagasse.

“Any BC voter who didn’t get their mail-in ballot and requested one from Elections BC before the deadline should now be given the right to vote and to have that vote counted,” Vander Zalm said. “There is still more than enough time before the planned end of the vote count on August 25 to make sure democracy is delivered.”

Fight HST is again calling for an independent inquiry into how the mail-in ballot binding referendum on the Harmonized Sales Tax has been conducted, saying the Lagasse example makes it more important than ever.

“This HST referendum has been full of unnecessary challenges for voters, who should have found it very easy to cast their ballots,” Fight HST strategist Bill Tieleman said. “That’s why we need an independent inquiry to ensure that the next BC referendum runs far more smoothly and ensures everyone’s democratic rights are respected.”

Tieleman said the grassroots group is still getting dozens of complaints through its website from voters who contacted Elections BC before the July 22 deadline to request a ballot but never received one and encouraged anyone who hasn’t contacted Fight HST to still do so.

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BILL VANDER ZALM DEMANDS ELECTIONS BC ACT AS MISSING BALLOT COMPLAINTS RISE

FIGHT HST ASKS VOTERS WHO DO NOT HAVE HST BALLOTS BUT REQUESTED THEM FROM ELECTIONS BC TO CONTACT FIGHT HST IMMEDIATELY THROUGH WEBSITE

Bill Vander Zalm demands Elections BC act as missing ballot complaints rise

VANCOUVER – Fight HST is asking any voter who requested an HST referendum ballot from Elections BC but has not yet received one to immediately contact Fight HST through the email form below.

Fight HST leader and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm says the organization has already received hundreds of emails and phone calls from worried voters who didn’t get an HST referendum ballot in the mail, called Elections BC’s telephone hotline to get one and still have no vote – with the August 5 deadline looming.

“No registered voter who contacted Elections BC before the July 22 deadline and who has not yet received their ballot should be denied a vote – that would be an affront to democracy,” Vander Zalm said.  “Elections BC has the power to remedy this situation, which threatens to disenfranchise thousands of voters through no fault of their own.  Elections BC must act now to solve this problem.”

Vander Zalm is asking voters who have not received ballots to allow Fight HST to tell their story to the media to ensure that Elections BC understands the magnitude of the problem and the frustration.  Some voters have already done so – here are a few examples:

“Have been traveling across Canada this summer for 2 months.  Called Elections BC to get a ballot for both my husband and I, sent to P.E.I. Canada with 9 days to arrive before we got there.  It is now 3.5 weeks later and not there yet.  Called elections BC again on July 14 to then have ballots sent to Newfoundland as we were moving on.  Two weeks now and it is still now there and unfortunately we are now heading out west towards home again and will be unable for either of us to vote.  Any questions or suggestions please contact us via email or call our cell.

Thank you Carla and Joe Rauer-Reis, South Delta.

“I am missing a total of 3 ballots for my household.  I also had called in for my dad who also is still waiting for his ballot.  I had did a quick survey with my friends and family and several of them have not received them. I also have informed chek 6 news.

Thanks Sarb Gill, Surrey.”

“I have contacted Elections BC 4 times and they sent my ballot package to my old address not once but twice even though it was correct for the last election and my husband received his package.

They have told me I cannot pick a package up in person and that I should contact Canada Post.  I want Elections BC investigated….

Alanna Hulko, Sidney, BC

Fight HST strategist Bill Tieleman said Elections BC has several possible remedies within its power, including to extend the deadline for ballots received, to accept statutory declarations from voters who swear they are eligible to vote, contacted Elections BC to receive a ballot but did not get one, and to issue ballots to those voters who for whatever reason were not sent one despite requesting it.

“Every voter has a democratic right to vote in this HST referendum.  Whether they didn’t get a vote because of human error or computer error, whether it happened at Canada Post or Elections BC – it doesn’t matter now,” Tieleman said.  “The solutions are easily at hand and the credibility of both mail in ballots and this important HST referendum are at stake – Elections BC has to get this fixed before the deadline and get these voters their ballots as promised.”

To contact Fight HST about a missing ballot, complete the submission form below and the email will be sent directly to Fight HST.  Please indicate if Fight HST can use your name with media or if you prefer your name to remain confidential.

This is an archived contact form, no one will receive this request. We are keeping it in place for archive purposes.

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