Dec 3, 2009 Letters
OPEN LETTER TO HER EXCELLENCY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE MICHAELLE JEAN, GOVERNOR GENERAL OF CANADA,
IN RIGHT OF HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II, SOVEREIGN OF CANADA
FROM: William Vander Zalm, former Premier of British Columbia
RE: Constitutionality of Federal Government proposal to create a harmonized sales tax in BC.
December 3, 2009
I write to you regarding an issue of great urgency and concern to myself and the millions of other British Columbians for whom I speak.
The issue is with respect to the British Columbia Government’s plan to accede its exclusive legal authority regarding direct taxation within the Province of British Columbia to the raising of revenue for provincial purposes, to the Federal Government.
Specifically, I refer to their plan to combine the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) with the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) to create a “harmonized sales tax” (HST) to be levied, set and collected by the Federal Government on behalf of British Columbia.
Section 91 and 92 of The Constitution Act of 1867 clearly enumerates the powers of both the federal and the provincial governments in Canada. Section 92, paragraph 2 states:
92. In each Province the Legislature may exclusively make Laws in relation to Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say,
2. Direct Taxation within the Province in order to the raising of a Revenue for Provincial Purposes.
We understand this to mean that only the Province of BC is empowered by the Constitution of Canada to levy, set and collect direct sales taxes within the Province, exclusive of the Federal Government.
This exclusive right is held in trust by the Government of British Columbia on behalf of the people of British Columbia, and cannot be assigned, delegated or relinquished without a Constitutional amendment.
The HST, as proposed by the BC and Federal Governments, unilaterally transfers BC’s exclusive lawmaking authority for direct taxation within the Province of BC for provincial purposes, to the Federal Government via a Federal Act, subverting the Constitution and the authority of the BC Legislature.
The Government of BC has stated that the HST Agreement signed by the Finance Ministers of BC and Canada will not be ratified by the BC Legislature. Since the Finance Minister of BC does not have the authority to pass legislation in BC unilaterally, the Agreement can have no force and effect in BC law.
Only a Provincial Act can change, remove or transfer BC’s power governing the collection of direct taxation in BC for provincial purposes, and only with a Constitutional amendment.
We believe the HST Agreement and the resulting Federal Government legislation directly contravenes Section 92, paragraph 2 of the Constitution Act 1867, and is therefore unconstitutional and illegal.
We believe it is a clear violation of the Constitutional limits, obligations and duties of the Provincial Government toward its citizens, and must not be allowed to proceed.
We therefore ask that you withhold Royal Ascent for this Bill when it comes to your desk for signature.
We ask that you, on behalf of the citizens of BC and Canada, refer these very serious concerns to her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, for her legal and Constitutional determination, and for the protection of her subjects in BC from this apparent usurpation of their Constitutional rights.
We ask that you do all in your power to prevent the Governments of BC and Canada from proceeding to enact the HST until such time as these issues can be satisfactorily resolved, to ensure both Governments are forced to comply with their Constitutional obligations and limitations.
As Governor General, you have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of Canada on behalf of the citizens of Canada and British Columbia. The profound implications and urgent nature of this situation require that you act now to protect the people of BC from this egregious planned violation of their rights and entitlement according to our Constitution.
We thank you for considering our request and await your reply forthwith, as time is of the essence if this potential violation of the Constitution is to be prevented.
William Vander Zalm
Former Premier of British Columbia
Honourable Stephen L. Point, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
Honourable James Flaherty, Finance Minister of Canada
Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia
Honourable Colin Hansen, Finance Minister of British Columbia
Honourable Carole James, Leader of the Official Opposition of BC
Honourable Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Opposition, Canada
Honourable Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP
Honourable Gilles Duceppe, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
London, England SW1A 1AA
Tags: british columbia government, british columbia section, british columbians, canada section, constitution act, constitution of canada, federal governments, government of british columbia, government proposal, governor general of canada, harmonized sales tax, lawmaking authority, majesty queen elizabeth, premier of british columbia, province of bc, province of british columbia, provincial governments, provincial sales tax, queen elizabeth ii, right honourable
Nov 16, 2009 Details
Below I have included the text of a letter to your MP. Simply copy and paste into your word processor and finish the details or make your own modifications, then print and mail it to your MP at the address provided.
[Your MP's Name: If a Minister preceded with Hon.]
[If Minister insert title here]
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A OA6
RE: BC HST Enabling Legislation.
Dear [MP's title, if Minister, and Name},
I am writing you to oppose the implementation of a Harmonized Sales Tax in the province of British Columbia.
Poll’s in British Columbia show that over 85% of citizen here are opposed to this tax. This opposition represents an overwhelming majority in every riding. The results of the recent by-election in New Westminster-Coquitlam demonstrates that any BC politician that supports the HST will face the wrath of the voters at election time.
As a voter in [ constituency], I will be casting my ballot in the next federal election only for candidates that oppose the implementation of the HST in BC, regardless of political party. If you wish to have my support, and the support of thousands of other constituents in this riding, I strongly urge you to vote against the implementation of the HST.
I hope that you will heed the majority of your constituents wishes and that you will act in accordance with Canadian democratic principles and political accountability with regard to the HST.
I strongly oppose this tax on the basis that the BC Liberals have no mandate to create such a tax, it is being unfairly implemented in BC, and will place too great a burden on consumers struggling to cope with a recession.
Once again, I urge you to please vote according to the majority of your constituent’s wishes against the HST.
Tags: accountability, bc liberals, caucus, constituent, free vote, harmonized sales tax, house of commons, legislation canada, members of parliament, minister of canada, new westminster, ontario, ottawa, political, prime minister of canada, province of british columbia, recession, right honourable stephen harper