Posted on 17 August 2010 by admin
OSOYOOS TIMES-August 18, 2010
By Laurena Weninger – Osoyoos Times
“The law is clear – the petition must be forwarded by the chief electoral officer before the committee acts,” said Boundary-Similkameen MLA John Slater, one of the members of the Select Standing Committee for Legislative Initiatives.
On Aug. 11, Craig James, the acting chief electoral officer for Elections BC, sent a letter to Bill Vander Zalm, the former B.C. premier who is spearheading the Initiative Petition process to have the harmonized sales tax (HST) repealed.
In the letter, James told Vander Zalm the completed petition complies with provisions of Section 7 of B.C.’s Recall and Initiative Act.
That means the petition is valid in that the Fight HST was successful in getting 10 per cent of all registered voters in each of B.C.’s 85 electoral districts to sign the anti-HST petition.
But even though all the ducks are in a row, James said in the letter he won’t be doing anything else with the petition at this time.
According to the Recall and Initiative Act, when Elections BC gives the petition its stamp of approval, it is to be forwarded to the select standing committee.
Within 90 days of the committee’s first meeting, they must either recommend that a bill to quash the HST be introduced in the Legislature or that the matter be referred to a province-wide, non-binding vote.
But neither of those options are going to happen any time soon.
“Out of deference for the proceedings currently before the court… against the chief electoral officer and William Vander Zalm, as set out to be heard during the week of August 16, 2010, I will not be taking further steps under the Recall and Initiative Act with respect to your petition until a final determination has been rendered by the Court…” states James’ letter.
James is referring to a B.C. Supreme Court action by a coalition of business groups, including the Western Convenience Stores Association, the BC Chamber of Commerce, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, the Council of Forest Industries, the Mining Association of B.C. and the Coast Forest Products Association.
The coalition wants the court to rule that the petition should be thrown out because the HST is a federal initiative and should not be affected by the provincial recall and initiative process.
Vander Zalm has filed a counterclaim that the HST is unconstitutional.
Either way, James is not forwarding the petition to the committee at this time.
But Vander Zalm doesn’t want to wait.
He wants to personally present the validated petition to the committee – but Slater has said “no thanks.”
“We’re not going to accept it from a third party. Why would we? We can’t do anything with it anyway. (Elections BC) people will sit down with the committee and tell us what we can and can’t do and what our options are.”
Paul McCavour, a local anti-HST organizer, said frustration is mounting with the bureaucratic process.
“The decision not to submit the anti-HST petition to the legislative committee until a court challenge by pro-HST big business groups is dealt with is nothing more than a stall tactic,” McCavour states in a letter to the editor submitted to the Osoyoos Times.
Tags | hst