It’s over – hopefully

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The HST votes are in – at least from those who took the time to vote and from those who were able to get a ballot and get it in on time.

Now we wait for the outcome, which, in my estimation, is too hard to predict because of the confusion around the ballot question and questions about who voted and who didn’t. I’m just as curious to find out the voter turnout numbers as I am the outcome.

Regardless of that outcome, the late August announcement of the fate of the HST will finally end over two years of speculation about the tax’s future and over two years of myopic political debate which has distracted us from other critical challenges.

If the HST is to be extinguished, then there will be work to do to re-establish the GST and PST, including negotiations with the federal government and, possibly, consultation with the public. If the HST survives the vote, then we’ll need to see the government turn their promised changes to the tax into legislation this fall.

Regardless of the referendum outcome, Premier Clark will have the direction she needs to start to work on a new budget and a new set of priorities based on that budget. Hopefully we’ll get a sense of those priorities sooner than later.

It would be nice if the Opposition did the same thing: respond to the HST outcome with a proposed budget and a clear set of priorities of their own. The Opposition has been the anti-tax, anti-Campbell party for too long. With the HST question settled, Mr. Dix should let British Columbians know what he would do if he’s given a mandate to govern after the next election — whenever that may be. It’s been a long time since B.C. citizens have been given an opportunity to more clearly understand the differences between the two main parties in B.C. The Liberals have lived off the “dismal decade” for too long. Likewise, the NDP have to move off their “lie-berals” and anti-Campbell shtick.

British Columbians deserve better, and the health of our democracy demands more respect for the intelligence of the electorate than the political rhetoric that’s permeated B.C. politics for over a decade.

By Bob Simpson – Williams Lake Tribune