There will be those in the Liberal government who will want to say, “I told you so,” to voters.
After all, the government warned the sky would fall if British Columbians shot down the harmonized sales tax and returned to its provincial counterpart. As we all know, a majority of voters gave the HST the boot during the referendum, and now Victoria is claiming that will force B.C.’s deficit to triple to $2.3 billion over three years.
Finance Minister Kevin Falcon says there is no choice but to tighten the belt and ministries and agencies will have to cut costs. Given that staffing makes up the majority of most budgets, watch for pink slips to be handed out.
However, blaming voters for this situation would be simplistic given that the referendum was a direct result of government bungling.
It was the Liberals who always opposed an HST but reversed thrusters just days after an election and accepted the tax. Promises that the HST would be revenue-neutral and not negatively impact families were found to be hollow. Many people were turned off by the hard-sell the government launched prior to the referendum, and particularly over the use of taxpayers’ own money.
Had the Liberals followed the proper process and gone to the public early on for legitimate consultation over the HST, then perhaps the tax would still be in place and the current financial mess would be avoidable. But instead, the government did an end-run around due process and British Columbians are now paying the price.
Ultimately, the ballooning deficit says far more about the Liberals’ loss of public confidence than it does about British Columbians’ ability to understand complex financial matters.
—The Morning Star