Jul 15, 2011
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FIGHT HST TAKES ADVICE FROM BC OMBUDSPERSON, ASKS ELECTIONS BC TO RULE IF BC GOVERNMENT PRO-HST ADS ARE “FRAUDULENT” UNDER ELECTIONS ACT
Former Premier Bill Vander Zalm asks Election BC to immediately halt ads
VANCOUVER – Fight HST has taken advice from the BC Ombudsperson and filed a complaint asking Elections BC to rule if misleading pro-HST BC government ads are “fraudulent” as defined by the BC Elections Act.
Bill Vander Zalm, former BC Premier and Fight HST leader, is also asking Elections BC to order an immediate halt to BC government HST advertising while the independent office of the BC Legislature investigates the complaint.
Vander Zalm said BC Ombudsperson Kim Carter has told Fight HST that her office does not have the jurisdiction to investigate BC government advertising but that Elections BC could investigate whether it is persuading votes through “fraudulent means”.
“The Ombudsperson has rightfully not offered her opinion about whether our complaint that the BC government’s HST ads are misleading and deceptive, as we believe, but she has given us a very clear indication that Elections BC should consider our complaint, which we have now filed,” Vander Zalm said.
In her letter to Fight HST, Carter wrote: “Section 256 of the Elections Act is included in Schedule 2 of the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) Referendum Regulation. It appears to provide an option for an individual or group that believes another individual or organization through fraudulent means is persuading an individual to vote for or against a specific response to the referendum question to bring that complaint to the attention of the Chief Electoral Officer.”
In his complaint, Vander Zalm asks Acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James to immediately order the BC government to cease all pro-HST advertising while an investigation takes place.
“British Columbians are being deliberately misled every day by government advertising that says if they just vote ‘NO’ in the referendum, the HST will magically become 10% afterwards – that’s completely untrue and is intentionally deceiving voters,” Vander Zalm said. “Elections BC can quickly undo some of the damage done by this advertising by stopping it immediately and before the referendum ends while it investigates.”
Vander Zalm’s complaint states that government advertising is deliberately misleading because it does not indicate whatsoever that the “10%” rate would not take effect for three years and is entirely dependent on the current government being re-elected and keeping its promises far into the future without regard for potential changes in BC’s economy or finances.
“The government ads don’t tell the truth and are so blatantly misleading that no other advertiser could get away with such deception – and they are using more than $5 million taxpayer dollars to do it,” Vander Zalm said. “Elections BC is not being asked to take sides in the referendum – it’s being asked to decide right and wrong on a fundamental issue.”
Vander Zalm said Fight HST has also sought clarification from the Ombudsperson regarding her jurisdiction, arguing that while the Ombudsperson Act may not specifically allow a complaint against government as a whole to be investigated, it does permit complaints against any ministry to proceed.
Vander Zalm said the Ministry of Finance is in charge of the HST campaign, including advertising, and therefore could be the subject of a revised complaint.Share on Facebook