HST Referendum – My 12 Cents

I finally got my HST referendum in the mail. Now I just have to figure out how to vote. I’m not happy with either option.

On the right hand, we have the Liberals lying about introducing the HST, spending ridiculous sums of money to convince voters to keep it, making dubious claims that it will create jobs, and promising to reduce the HST to 10% if they’re reelected.

On the left hand, we have the NDP and Bill Vander Zalm whipping up anti-tax sentiment, claiming British Columbians are ‘struggling to make ends meet’ and can’t afford any more taxes, and ignoring the complication of going back to the GST/PST after the change has already been made.

I think both are stupid.

When the HST was first introduced, the Liberal government said it would be ‘revenue neutral’. Then they realized they would make more money off it, but said all the extra money would help fund health care – ok, I can support that. Then they said they would lower the tax rate to 10%. Wait a minute, I thought that money was needed to support health care?

The HST is obviously a simpler tax then the GST/PST, and I can support that. I don’t envy any retailers who will have to revert the changes to their computer systems if the referendum passes. The old PST rules had hundreds of exemptions. Yes, bikes and biking gear was one exemption, and I don’t like that bikes are now more expensive, but there are better ways for the government to support cycling then tax breaks.

I think I’d be willing to support the HST if it was left at 12%. Getting rid of the HST seems irresponsible at this point. Keeping it and lowering it to 10% will hamstring future government revenue. What to do?

Maybe the battling stickman videos will help me decide. The first one is part of the government’s $5 million ad campaign to sell the HST and has almost 50 views on Youtube (the video on Vimeo has closer to 1000). Money well spent.


  1. good post. I feel the same way. Ignoring the politic involved I do think a Value added tax like the HST is better than the PST system even though it means the consumer is actually paying more. The fact is that with our current governments spending more then they have and the deficit increasing in this country and many others, being taxed is going to be a common theme in the next decade, me thinks.

    The wiki post on HST briefly describes what happened when HST was implemented Nova Scotia in 1997. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonized_Sales_Tax They eventually ended up cutting it by 2% and just last year rolled back those changes. I put little faith the 2% cut will happen. 1% maybe.


    • I don’t think the second cut will happen either. There are too many variables between now and 2014. The economy will be different, the government will be different. Promising to reduce taxes 3 years out seems a bit disingenuous.


  2. Ontarian’s whined about the HST when it was introduced, now most seem to accept it.
    Neither of the opposition parties have said they’d get rid of the HST here, simply remove it off certain items:
    PC’s – Home heating
    NDP – gasoline

    Although we are paying more on certain items, I seldom pay attention to the HST. Most items always had the GST & PST on them anyways.


    • The difference here in BC is restaurant items were PST exempt before. That is the single biggest reason why the HST is hated here. When every restaurant meal goes up by 7%, you notice.


  3. Slightly off topic, but I was disappointed to discover that I couldn’t vote online (as with the recent census). That’s a lot of packaging (3 envelopes!) just to count my binary vote.


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