Jun 072011
 

By Terry O’Neill –
Published by The Tri-City News: June 03, 2011

FACE TO FACE: Which way will they vote in B.C.’s HST referendum?

There comes a time in some lovers’ quarrels when the aggrieved party’s feelings are so hurt that he or she simply refuses to hear another word, even if that word is an apology, a promise from the offender to make things better or actual evidence of action to set things right.

Welcome to the Great HST Debate.

Understandably, many British Columbians were angered and insulted not only by the manner in which the BC Liberal government introduced the tax but also by the nature of the harmonized sales tax itself.

But many of my fellow taxpayers now seem to be incapable of reversing their opposition to this revenue-generating measure, even though the government has admitted it made many errors in introducing the tax and has taken steps to make things better.

Count my colleague as one of the many provincial taxpayers who is never going to forgive, never going to forget and never going to vote in favour of the HST in this month’s referendum. I suspect his deep-rooted aversion to centrist or centre-right political parties has more than a little to do with his stubbornness.

On the other hand, while I am disinclined to support measures that put the government’s hand deeper into my pocket, I’ve long considered the HST to represent solid fiscal policy and I still believe (as do most economists) that its implementation will lead to more job- and wealth-creation in the province — and that’s good for everyone, consumers and businesses alike.

Now that Finance Minister Kevin Falcon has addressed the tax-paying public’s major concerns about the HST — by promising to phase in a reduction of the tax to 10% from the current 12% and by increasing the corporate income tax rate by 2% — the HST seems to be even more of a win-win.

What’s especially significant is that, under the changes, average British Columbians will enjoy both a short-term benefit (no $350 tax shift) and a long-term one (increased GDP attributable to the efficiencies associated with the HST).

And so I will be voting to preserve the HST.

But if you still have a need to fight against a stupid and destructive revenue-generating measure, take aim at the carbon tax. It deserves to die, sooner rather than later.

An award-winning journalist, a writer with Edmonton’s Report Magazine and Toronto’s Catholic Insight magazine, and co-host of RoadKillRadio.com, Face to Face columnist Terry O’Neill is a long-time Coquitlam resident who sits on the board of the Coquitlam Foundation and chairs the finance committee of St. Joseph’s Catholic parish.

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