Great Day for Democracy

I am very pleased that BC voters have overturned the HST. The tax, which was implemented without any notice to BCers, was universally hated and had become a beacon of BC Liberal arrogance. In their paternalistic fashion they imposed the tax on us while telling us that it will create jobs and be a ‘revenue neutral’ tax. Most people in the province can do basic math and wondered if they were now paying 7% more for services how on earth could the tax be revenue neutral?

I heard Kevin Falcon on the radio and he was contrite about the results. He actually admitted that they made an error in how they implemented the tax and he felt that the results, in essence, were a slap on the wrist for the BC Liberal Party. He said that it will take 15 months to 2 years to revert back to the PST, GST situation. I am not clear why it would take that long maybe they are hoping to make up some of that 1.6 billion they now have to pay back to the feds.

One of the things that has bothered me throughout this whole campaign and now the results is that the government and the pro-HST business alliances[1] they seem to think voters are stupid. Repeatedly today I kept hearing that tax policy is too complicated for the average voter and that we should not be deciding tax policy by referendum. The BC Liberals showed complete contempt for the voters when they introduced it 3 months after an election. Regardless what the pro-HST forces said the tax was not good for BC. It hit largely services like restaurants and personal care services with an extra 7%. To say that it would not negatively impact families is bogus – almost everyone needs a haircut or wants to eat out now and then. They also never adequately explained how the HST created jobs. They just kept repeating it hoping that repetition is emphasis and we would all just believe it. I still do not know how the HST was supposed to neither create jobs nor, now, kill jobs. The public was not at all stupid – they understood the question.

Now we will have to contend with paying the feds back. Personally, I think the BC Liberal party should have to start fundraising for that but I know it will be us, the lowly taxpayer, who will repay it. The BC Liberals should have put that money aside and not spent it once the opposition to the HST began to heat up. They should have never underestimated Bill Vander Zalm; he has populism down to a science.

The terms of the referendum demand that the sales tax situation in BC be returned to what it was prior to July 1, 2010. I suspect the BC Liberals will introduce changes to increase the reach of the PST as soon as they think they can get away with it. Oh, and wait, what’s that sound? It is the sound of the air being let out of the tires of Christy Clarke’s surprise election call for the fall. She would likely lose.

Welcome to BC – Go big or stay home

I have lived in BC for more than 10 years now and I have noticed an interesting trend. It seems that whatever happens in BC is always bigger or worse or has a much larger than the rest of the country. Take for example the recent riots when Vancouver lost the Stanley Cup. In Toronto, they have a riot over globalization and the G-8 and here in BC it is over hockey. And it was a bad riot as riots go.

Now we have another example. All over the country, rivers are flowing at higher levels than normal. There has been rampant flooding in Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Flooding would have been boring so instead what do we get? We get transformer towers that are in the Fraser River[1] crashing down and causing power lines to come down across two of the busiest highways in the province!

One really has to wonder why anyone thought it would be a good idea to put power lines across a highway. But then again, those towers have stood for 55 years why would they come down now? Well, apparently, the high water flows over a longer period[2] caused the base of the tower to ‘scour.’[3] When one tower fell, it pulled the electrical lines taut over the whole section. Apparently, BC Hydro was able to ‘de-electrify’ the lines so that there was no danger.

In the middle of the night, all of the local officials gathered in the parking lot of Home Depot[4] in Coquitlam. Here they decided what they were going to do after the initial road closure. For the benefit of my non-Lower Mainland Readers, Highway 1 and the Lougheed[5] are the only routes into Vancouver. Metro Vancouver is a string of municipalities on either side of these roads. In the morning, everyone tries to get into Vancouver and the opposite at the end of the day.

The problem was that there were electrical cables[6] across the highways. So at some point around 7am the dream team at Homo Depot decided they should severe said wires so that the traffic could flow once again. By now, the local radio stations had done their bit to convince people to stay home, take transit, walk, bike or go by mule train. And never doubt the ability of the Vancouver media to stop the traffic from coming. They do it every time it might snow a flake or two.

When I finally left at around noon because I didn’t want to have to deal with this mess everything was fine. It was all reopened by 3 pm[7] and things were moving fine. The benefit of all this to me? There was no traffic to contend with on my way home. This made me a very happy camper!

[1] And have been since like 1956

[2] As it was explained by a geologist today on CBC.

[3] Whatever that means.

[4] Or Homo Depot as we like to call it. Ever been there on a Friday night?

[5] For you Albertans that is pronounced: lowheed not lawheed. It is a highway not a megalomaniac premier.

[6] De-electrified don’t forget.

[7] They had kept a part of United Boulevard closed.