The HST vote hit us like a direct democracy hurricane and now we’re left, dazed and confused, to sort through the rubble in the aftermath.
I have to admit, the scariest thing about the vote was not the result, but all those pictures of smilin’ Bill Vander Zalm looking like the eggplant that ate Vancouver. You have to wonder about anything that makes B.C.’s most notorious horticulturalist that happy, but I digress …
OK, the vote: 881,198 British Columbians can’t be wrong, can they?
Adrian Dix, NDP leader and Vander Zalm’s strange bedfellow, said Friday it was “a great day for democracy.” I think he meant that the people rose up and stuck it to the man, or in this case the woman, Premier Christy Clark. Or else he means he can almost taste a victory for the NDP in the next election. Not sure.
I wish I could get all triumphant like Dix and smilin’ Bill, but when you look at what we actually get, what’s the big deal? The facts: In 19 months or so the government will replace the current 12 per cent HST with the old five per cent GST and seven per cent PST, which comes to 12 per cent.
Can’t fool me.
Presumably, all the old exemptions and weird anomalies will apply, like the PST on red raincoats but not on yellow raincoats. Or is it the other way around?
If we’d left well enough alone, after two years, we’d have a 10 per cent HST.
A great victory, then, voting down a 10 per cent tax to restore a 12 per cent tax, one that’s full of zany inconsistencies. Power to the people!
Premier Clark, for her part, seems eager to turn the page and get on with her agenda, whatever that is. But it’s a mighty heavy page that’s going to take 19 months to turn, even with all that help from the peanut, er, press gallery.
If the government tries to repair PST inconsistencies, what does that do to its solemn promise to restore the exemptions just the way they were? What’s fair: A tax on all the colours of the raincoat or no tax on raincoats? The mind boggles.
And now that the people have tasted the triumph of direct democracy, will they start clamouring for more direct democracy, and then more? How long before we’re like California, empowered and free … and dead broke – because California will fall into the ocean before its direct democrats ever vote in favour of a tax initiative.