Premier Christy Clark’s announcement of a reduction in the HST is good news for Oceanside, says MLA Ron Cantelon.
However, Bob Hannay doesn’t see it that way.
Cantelon said the reduction from six per cent to five per cent will prove a much-needed relief to local seniors.
“Many seniors are on fixed incomes and this really affected them with the things they want to do when they’re retired,” he said. “Whether they wanted to go out to a restaurant or play a round of golf, it really impacted on their leisure plans for retirement.”
In addition to the reduction in the overall HST bite, Cantelon said the announcement provides for a one-time payment of $175 to every senior making under $40,000 per year.
“The hope is that they will go out and spend it,” he said.
The announcement also included a one-time payment of $175 for every child under the age of 18.
As to whether the measure will be enough to win the upcoming referendum, Cantelon stressed that is entirely up to the taxpayers.
“This is going to be up to the people,” he said. “We said it’s over to you, the constituents. You decide if it’s fair and reasonable.”
Hannay, a local co-ordinator for FightHST said Clark is missing the point.
“Many did not sign the petition in protest against the unusually large tax increase, and some did not object to the huge financial assist to the business sector,” he said. “Most were insulted by a government whom they felt had lied to them to get re-elected.”
Reducing the tax, he said, does nothing to resolve the basic issue of trust that he feels was breached with the imposition of the HST.
“Now it seems the government is sweetening the pot by promising the public a measure of tax relief, which they say will result in big business having to pay the difference,” he said. “This misses the point for many of the petition signers. The petition was about the undemocratic action of a government, through the HST, that stripped away British Columbia’s sole right to administer its own taxes without having to consult with Ottawa.”
The reduction, he said, amounts to the government attempting to bribe taxpayers with their own money — and it could well backfire.
“The outright bribery to support an undemocratic government policy trumps all for many of those who support the petition,” he said. “That may be why the referendum’s yes side could very well succeed.”