My parents taught me to not “cut off your nose to spite your face.”
Well, that is exactly what the anti-HST campaigners are aiming to do.
The costs of unravelling the HST will be massive – repayment of $1.6 billion to Ottawa, and expensive rebuilding of duplicate business collection systems and federal and provincial bureaucracies to manage and audit two taxes (as in, more government).
Low-income rebates and tax cuts will be reversed.
The hit to B.C.’s budget could be $4 billion. Important services will likely be slashed or debt increased.
The “accepted wisdom” is that the Gordon Campbell Liberals lied about the tax, but I have not seen any quotes or video clips from either Premier Campbell or Finance Minster Colin Hansen saying anything at all about a HST during the May 2009 election campaign.
If such quotes existed, I expect that they would be played incessantly – but they are not. At worst, they may have “lied by omission.”
There is no shortage of ironies in all this.
First, Canadians have a long record of rewarding lies. Most recently, Stephen Harper got a majority, notwithstanding broken promises on Senate appointments, income trusts and provincial equalization payments.
“The people” aren’t angry with him.
Second, it was under Bill Vander Zalm himself that the property transfer tax was introduced in 1988, without prior consultation with “the people.” That tax now takes up to $1 billion each year from B.C. home buyers.
Third, the NDP and their union allies are fighting the HST. Many B.C. public sector union contracts are up this year.
If they win, B.C.’s finances will crater. Who do they think will pay their contract demands?
So be angry at the B.C. Liberals if you want, but the place to show that anger is at the ballot box, not now, out of spite – to our own faces.