EDITORIAL: HST victory proves costly

Only time will tell if Friday’s referendum results will truly be a victory for the taxpayers of British Columbia.

Only time will tell if Friday’s referendum results will truly be a victory for the taxpayers of British Columbia. It certainly is a victory for Bill Vander Zalm and the ‘Yes’ side that not only forced this referendum with plenty of grassroots support, but also ended the political career of Gordon Campbell.

The ironies of a former right-wing premier leading the charge that resulted in the resignation of another right-wing leader of the province to the good fortune of the NDP seems like deja vu all over again. And yet another reason why B.C. politics lives in a world of its own making. Lotusland, indeed.

However Campbell and the Liberals have to wear this one as they’re the ones who tried to sneak in the HST during the summer on the heels of an election victory with the hopes that no one would notice, or at least get used to the idea well before another election campaign.

Uh, nope. Probably the HST will go down as the worst political miscalculation since the fast ferries fiasco, and maybe even more costly to the B.C. taxpayer once the final tally is all added up.

And the costs continue as the finance minister claims it will take 18 months to undo the HST and restore the PST and GST, as well as repay $1.6 billion to Ottawa.

At least we likely won’t be facing the costs of an early election call this year. Premier Christy Clark would be wise to abandon her wishes for a mandate sooner rather than later and attempt to guide the province out of this self-induced mess and try to regain the trust of the electorate.

It’s a huge challenge made more difficult by Friday’s result but then it just may be poetic justice as it was the Liberals who bungled this from the beginning and the only way out was to put tax policy to a public vote. When you’re forced to roll the dice politically, you should be prepared for the consequences.

—The Morning Star