Though they’ve spent months on opposing sides of the debate, Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald and local BC Liberal riding association president Doug Clovechok are in agreement on one thing: neither is surprised that B.C. voters have opted to throw out the HST.
Results from Elections BC show 55 per cent of British Columbians voted to extinguish the HST in this summer’s referendum. In Columbia River – Revelstoke, the number was even stronger, with about 66 per cent of the area’s 12,000 respondents voting to axe the tax.
“I wasn’t sure how it would turn out provincially, of course. But from the beginning, as soon as this was introduced, people were upset. They were bothered,” says Macdonald, who called the result “a victory for democracy,” echoing other B.C. NDPers across the province.
“People were pretty clear to me here that they wanted it gone,” he adds. “I wasn’t surprised here. It was a good strong result. I don’t think anybody who lives here should be surprised by that.”
Clovechok says he also anticipated the results, though for him they’re “a little disappointing.”
“What this really tells us is that when you endeavor to make massive social policy changes or economic policy changes you’d better talk to somebody,” he adds.
“And that didn’t happen. Whether people voted with emotion or with logic, it doesn’t matter. Its time to move on.”
Premier Christy Clark has said the former PST/GST system will be reinstated, with the same exemptions — such as restaurant meals and haircuts — previously in place. However, provincial finance minister Kevin Falcon told media last Friday the switch could take up to a year and a half, with the final change coming in March 2013.
Again, both Clovechok and Macdonald are hoping that’s a conservative estimate.
“It needs to be as quick as possible,” says Macdonald. “There are people who will hold off on home improvements or buying second homes. There’s all sorts of things that people will be hurt by during the wait.”
Clovechok says he’d also like to see the switch happen a little faster, but he’s hoping the B.C. government will take the time to tweak the PST/GST system before it’s rolled out again.
“The reporting on PST/GST, it was cumbersome because you had to do two different reports, two different times of the year,” he says. “With any luck, with the negotiations the province and the feds will have, maybe we can streamline this system better and make it a little more business friendly.”