Bill Good hosted two recall targets yesterday, Liberal MLAs John Slater (Boundary Similkameen) and Bill Barisoff (Penticton).
They were well trained by the secretive Public Affairs Bureau. Nary a word out of place as Slater and Barisoff offered up a fine selection of BC Liberal talking points. Surprise, there was a heady stew of distortion along with hand wringing and bewilderment.
Let’s start with distortion.
Slater told Bill Good the HST is necessary to pay for public services. Here’s the exchange:
Slater – Well, you find me one constituent that really likes to pay taxes. That’s the bottom line.
Good – Yeah, but they all want health care, and they all want education, and they all want schools and highways.
Slater – Right, and that’s the whole issue. You know, we need to pay for this somehow…
But the truth is the HST doesn’t change a thing when it comes to paying for public services. Not a single new dime is raised for the public purse. Don’t take it from me. Colin Hansen said the same in his interview with Burnaby Now.
Burnaby Now: “How much money is the government expecting to make?
Colin Hansen: “In terms of the revenue of the HST, it’s roughly the same as the revenue we currently get from the PST. People use the term “revenue neutral,” but what we expect will “come in under the HST is what we currently get”.
Slater also told Good that paying the HST is a choice we didn’t have before. “A value added tax,” Slater said, “leaves the option for the purchaser, for the resident, to say, well, okay, I’m not going to pay that tax today, because I’m not going to go to the restaurant…”
…Or eat, or clothe their children or get their hair cut? I’m beginning to wonder if Slater lives at some kind of 60’s commune or maybe he just steals stuff. Whatever. Under the HST regular folks pay tax on a much broader range of goods, many of which they have no choice on.
Barisoff, on the other hand, went back to Old Faithfull: “the HST is good for the economy,” he confidently opined.”
“I think”, he told Good, “once people understand it more they feel that it’ll work well for the economy of British Columbia”.
Remember that study you withheld from voters, Mr. Barisoff? The one that said the HST will cost jobs and economic growth for at least five years out and then the benefits will be hard to measure if they can even be found. How does that work with “good for the economy”?
Then there’s the hand wringing and bewilderment.
Should we start with the lie? Let’s.
Good: Are you able to convince people in your riding that you did not know about this before the election?
Slater: Yeah, most of them, once you sit down one on one and you go through, you tell them personally. But there’s still a lot of disbelief in it too — right? — and I don’t know how you get around that.
Me neither, Mr. Slater. Because those documents that somehow got out when they weren’t supposed to seem to show the HST was kind of “on the radar” before the election.
And then there’s ‘recall, that’s not fair’.
Barisoff: I don’t believe that recall legislation was actually meant to overturn a government on a policy issue… I think that recall should be meant if individuals have inadvertently or advertently done something wrong that the people of the riding think that they should be recalled for but not on a policy matter from government.
But that’s not what Liberals thought in the nineties. Kevin Falcon – of the first Total Recall – put it succinctly. There are lots of good reasons for recall, he said back then, like when a government was “elected on the basis of a lie” or when a government “has so completely lost direction, have been involved with so many unethical practices, that people are absolutely fed up.”
Arguably, the current government fits the bill.
But by and large, All well and good. Message box followed, everything contained.
And then Barisoff had to go and say this about delaying the referendum for a year.
Good: But it’s going to be hard for the economy, at least for portions of it. It’s going to be very hard, for example, for people in downtown Vancouver who are selling new homes to deal with an HST that appears to be on hold.
Barisoff: Well, you know, there’s a certain amount of uncertainty, and I know that has an effect.
Damn straight, Mr. Speaker.