The famous slogan “taxation without representation” has been around since the 1600s. Many wars were fought over this principle. It’s interesting to note that the tax itself is not as egregious as the fact that it is applied without representation, consultation or amendment.
This was the case on July 1, 2010 when the BC Liberals decided to apply a consumption tax primarily aimed at middle income British Columbians. The BC Liberal government claimed the tax would be revenue neutral but that assertion quickly vaporized when the 110-plus items previously exempt from tax became taxable.
More than $800 million of disposable income went into the government’s coffers with no real or perceived improvements to core government services. The government’s independent panel summed it up well. “The gradual future economic benefits expected with the HST will not materialize.”
The “hated sales tax” soon became the subject of public outcry and protest the likes of which have never been witnessed in this province. People of all political stripes banded together to defeat the tax based on the same argument James Otis put forward in 1765.
Our MLA, Donna Barnett, despite the protestations of her constituents became a stalwart supporter of the tax. Her statements in the legislature speak for themselves. Here is what she stated on Mar. 22, 2010.
“That is what the harmonized sales tax will provide — jobs so that people can go and buy that cup of coffee and that ice cream cone for their families.”
The 113,000 jobs never materialized and that cup of coffee and ice cream cone cost us seven per cent more thanks to the HST.
So the highlight of MLA Barnett’s tenure as our representative in Victoria was to promote a regressive tax and then preside over its demise and the return to the PST. All this at considerable cost to us, the taxpayer.