Provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix takes a stand on the HST issue while speaking with media at an anti-HST rally Thursday on 32nd Street.

Provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix takes a stand on the HST issue while speaking with media at an anti-HST rally Thursday on 32nd Street.

Anti-HST rally hits streets of Vernon

Provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix said he’s finding support for his party’s Vote Yes to Scrap the HST campaign.

It doesn’t matter if he’s with a handful of people at the McLeese Lake General Store, halfway between Quesnel and Williams Lake, as he was earlier in the week, or with a dozen supporters beside the Polson Park fountain at the bottom of Hospital Hill in Vernon as he was Thursday.

NDP leader Adrian Dix said he’s finding support for his party’s Vote Yes to Scrap the HST campaign.

“Everywhere I go we get enormous support from the small business community and from working families everywhere. This is the people’s petition,” said Dix, talking to the media and carrying placards encouraging people to vote yes in the referendum that will determine the fate of the HST tax.

“We’re taking our message about the HST and why people should vote yes to scrap it to communities, and I’m out talking to people face-to-face.”

Dix said the Liberals have “bungled the HST” from the beginning, and the tax has done nothing but harm families and small businesses.

The Liberals passed legislation that the HST would be reduced from 12 per cent to 10 per cent but only if people of the province vote no in the referendum and opt to keep the tax.

But Dix said residents should be cautious when listening to anything the government has to say about the controversial tax.

“They said a no vote is a vote for lower taxes, it’s not true and people know it’s not true,” said Dix. “We need to think yes to scrap the HST. If the government can get away with misleading the people on every aspect of the HST, they can get away with this and get this thing through and there will be nothing controlling what the Liberals will do.”

Dix said the Liberals’ claims that the HST was revenue neutral, that new tax money would go to health care and for new buildings like the Vernon Jubilee Hospital tower, and that it would create 100,000 jobs and lower prices are all not true.

Joining the NDP leader at Thursday’s noon hour rally was Ryan Painter, a 27-year-old restaurant supervisor who was taking an extended lunch to show his support for the Scrap the HST campaign.

“I know the HST has affected me,” said Painter, waving to vehicles who honked their horns in support of the signs. “It’s increased my food bill. I wanted to join a gym to get into shape but the price of gym memberships went up so I’m not able to pay for that.

“I know it’s impacted a lot of my family and friends and I want people to know that this tax is no good.”

That sentiment was shared by another 20-something, Janet McInnes, a 23-year-old office worker, who also showed her support by carrying signs at the rally.

“I’m out here because I think the HST is a terrible thing for B.C.,” said McInnes. “It’s affected the way I spend my money, whether at a grocery store or out for dinner. Every aspect of my life where I spend money is affected.”

The referendum is being conducted by mail-in ballots and a deadline to return ballots by July 22 had been established.

That date, however, could be extended due to the Canada Post situation.

Dix is hoping for an end to the postal worker lockout, and a great turnout for the referendum.

“The government is hoping for a low turnout and only in a low turnout will they win,” said Dix. “This is the people’s referendum. I believe, from the bottom of my heart, the HST is bad for them, bad for the economy, bad for working families and bad for small business.

“We’ve made our case. That’s why people signed the petition (for a referendum).”