MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: A taxing decision

The HST referendum merry-go-round continues to spin...

The HST referendum merry-go-round continues to spin and I don’t know about you but I’m beginning to feel like I used to when I went on the same kind of rides at the fair when I was a kid (not the merry-go-round, of course, but the Spider used to get to me, and the Tilt-a-Whirl and the…..)

But puking doesn’t seem to be an appropriate response to a political problem for an adult, or maybe it does, I’m not sure of anything at this point.

“They’re lying about the facts,” exclaims the Yes side, which is actually the anti-HST side which you’d think would be the No side but not in this case due to the nature of the question – see what I mean about the dizzying effect of this debate.

Not to mention the Yes side includes NDP provincial leader Adrian Dix, who is on the far left side of the political spectrum which usually isn’t against any kind of tax that takes money out of our pockets and puts it into the hands of the government which knows better, and former Socred premier Bill Vander Zalm, who is as far right as anyone in this province and has led this movement that has already resulted in the resignation of the pro-business leader Gordon Campbell and threatens to end up, if the Yes side wins, with the socialists in power before the end of the year.

Take a breath here. Did you get all that? The ironies are too many to count.

“They’re not telling the whole story,” exclaims the No side, which is actually the pro-HST side, and includes the current government led by Christy Clark, who when the last election was held not that long ago was employed as a radio host in the Lower Mainland. Now she’s running the show and ironically is a lot further left than the last premier, already bumping up the minimum wage and giving smokers government money to quit.

Meanwhile, as our referendum ballots patiently wait their fate in a warehouse as another political battle wages in Ottawa, the lobbying from both sides is picking up steam.

The Yes side basically says “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.” A rare  non-election opportunity to tell the government to stuff it is too much to pass up for many of us usually powerless common folk, and there’s plenty of justification for this sentiment.

The Liberals did try to sneak this in during the summer after the last election, I assume thinking it wouldn’t get a lot of attention and if by chance it did the people had four years to either get over it or get used to it. Thanks to Bill and his boys, it’s one of the worst political miscalculations in B.C. history, as it also tapped into a mistrust and underlying lack of love for Campbell’s high-handed way of governing the province.

Plus the HST does cost us more for everyday things like restaurant meals, haircuts, gyms, bikes etc. and we’re supposed to vote in favour of that? Like take ownership and responsibility for the dreaded HST? Good luck.

However, the No side points out that business loves it (except restaurants, gyms etc.) cause it streamlines the tax system (which was 12 per cent for most things before anyway), other provinces have already adopted it without problems, the feds gave us billions to do it and it’s already set up and going back to the PST would likely hurt the economy which hurts us all, there’s rebates for many of us involved, and they’re promising to cut it to 10 per cent in a couple years (now, would be nice).

Phew.

What do I think? I think everyone has an agenda and it’s not always in our best interest nor is it always immediately apparent. The so-called facts are spun accordingly but it also doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong, if I haven’t again lost you already on this political merry-go-round.

I actually resent being put in this position and I blame all involved for us having to vote on what comes down to a costly vote on tax policy, but I’ll probably take my anti-nausea medication, hold my nose and mark No. It’s a done deal and makes sense on many levels. Save the punishment vote for the next election. However I will continue to research the topic and I have no illusions that what amounts to a pro-tax referendum will actually carry the day.

But then again when Yes actually means No who knows what will happen? To be honest I’ll be just glad when the merry-go-round stops. See you on the other side.

—Glenn Mitchell is the managing editor for The Morning Star