Official Site of the first ever successful Citizen's Initiative Victory followed by an HST Referendum Victory



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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Comment by Brian
2011-08-26 21:38:40

Bill Vander Zalm, Chris Delaney, and Bill Tieleman; you are my heroes. Thank you for all the work you did to pull off this amazing feat. Without you guys in charge, I don’t think the people of BC would have had a hope of getting rid of the HST. You stood up for everyday working BC citizens and helped us to prevail over this corrupt Liberal government and their big business friends.

By the way, I was very impressed with how the three of you came across during one of the public forums I went to. You definitely won the arguments you made against the greedy, self-serving members of the Dumb Tax Alliance and made them look like fools. Well done!

Comment by Mike Empey
2011-08-27 00:24:53

Never a better example of the saying, United we stand. Great job BC. The next step in improving this province is to have a much better voter turn out for the next election, whenever it may be. We must always stand for our rights, our people, and our province.

Comment by Bryan Fox
2011-08-27 08:06:40

What have we won? Numbers, yes, but not the issue. Falcon has, in effect, said that he intends to keep the HST until the next election. As a majority of Liberal ridings voted “yes”, there is a good chance that this will be the last we see of this government.
So they get to keep the tax for as long as they are in office. While we celebrate and drop our guard, we keep paying extra tax on window cleaning, car servicing, and the rest of the previously non-taxed items. And Kevin Falcon smirks.

Comment by Joe Boulter
2011-08-27 10:48:04

Yesterday’s decisive YES vote to extinguish the HST was a monumental victory for democracy.

None of this would have been possible without the leadership, motivational and organizational skills of Bill Vander Zalm, Chris Delaney, Bill Tielman and the entire steering committee which led to BC’s first successful initiative. Their continued dedication and determination played a pivotal role in bringing the referendum to its successful conclusion.

During the 2 year process I met some great people and am proud to have been part of this historic event.

Comment by J. Parker
2011-08-27 12:57:52

90 days to phase in HST and almost two years to transition back to the PST/GST.
BC Libs will spend the 1.6 Billion to get re-elected, if that does not work, they will leave a 1.6 Billion dollar Easter turd for the next Gov’t. do I detect some political maneuvering here?.

Comment by Jane
2011-08-27 21:15:49

Way to go Bill! Now that you con’d BC voters into turning down the HST, they get to cut a nice $4.6B cheque to the rest of the country. Not only that, the increased red tape on business will drive them to neighboring provinces. Keep it up!!

Comment by Mike
2011-08-29 12:45:21

What a great outcome! I knew all along the voters of BC would prevail through this HST mess. I find it completely unaccetpable that the Government now says it will take 18 months to abolish it completely. March 31st 2013 is just a month before the next BC election! The heat still needs to be turned up on this Government to expedite this quickly and without any further stalling. It was brought in very quickly and it can be dispersed just as quickly. 18 months is unacceptable Clark! Get rid of this tax that you are now collecting illegally or call an election so we can extinguish you and your lying MLA’s along with you!

Comment by alex
2011-08-29 14:50:58

That Christi Clarck lost her spending money to buy the election is very concerning. I believe she will be make it very difficult and expensive for the next premier of BC.

We seen this before. The big loosers are the taxpayers.

The BC liberal party memers should be held resposible and their wages should be garnered to pay for this mess.



Comment by Joe Boulter
2011-08-30 19:43:47

The decisive vote to extiguish the HST was a monumental victory for democracy.

None of this would have been possible without the leadership, motivational and organizational skills of Bill Vander Zalm, Chris Delaney, Bill Tielman and the entire steering committee which led to BC’s first successful initiative. Their continued dedication and determination played a pivotal role in bringing the referendum to its successful conclusion. Thanks guys.

I’m proud to have played a small part in this historic event.

Comment by newtobc
2011-08-31 09:09:28

Good job Bill V, Chris D and everyone who helped and contributed to Anti-Hst. Also thanks to everyone who voted “Yes”. Democracy has been restored in our province. Not everyone got fooled by 7 million dollar stickmen.

Comment by Monty Ritchings
2011-08-31 16:21:06

Now that this round of the beat the HSt has been completed we must be ever vigilant of the antics of this so called government we have elected.

Returning to the GST/PST is not a good option for the people either. The best fit, in my opinion is to install the HST exactly replacing the old pst/gst.

This has several advantages. First of all, we can makers those people in Victoria feel like they have won.

Secondly, it allows the province to keep the $1.6 billion dollars of our money the feds bribed them with.

Thirdly, it keeps business happy because it does make administration of taxes easier.

Fourthly and most important, it does not place any more pressure on the consumer.

We are taxed to death in this province. By using the HST format exactly as our old tax was a year ago, everybody wins.

We will have to lobby the government to get them to understand and accept this because I believe they have another agenda, that being to hold themselves as the ruling class over us peons. The revolt and eventual tossing of the HST has really shot them down. We need to keep pushing forward by telling the government what is acceptable to us, not what they are willing to give us.

We need to return to true representative democracy. That takes work on our part.

Comment by Wendy
2011-09-04 13:16:58

Sorry Jane but it was the Liberal Government and Smart Tax Alliance that tried to con the voters and it didn’t work. They spent millions of our tax dollars and that was such a waste of money.

We all survived, including big business, with the PST/GST and we will survive again.

It was a tax shift Jane, from large corporations onto our backs. It is time corporations started paying their fair share.

I am so glad the HST will be gone and thank Bill VanderZalm, Bill Tieleman and Chris Delaney for all their hard work. I am so happy that I was part of this history making referendum.

Comment by newtobc
2011-09-04 17:17:20

I think you are on the wrong website… this is Anti-hst… you want www dot bcliberals dot com

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