This is such a bad idea I wondered at first if it was a hoax e-mail.
The province's big business organizations have gone to court to argue that the anti-HST initiative petition should be declared invalid and tossed.
People who signed the petition were supporting a bill eliminating the HST. The business groups maintain that the federal government has responsibility for the tax and provincial legislation killing it would be unconstitutional.
The courts will sort out the arguments. But the last-minute effort to thwart the initiative is a disaster for the Liberals. The legal challenge reinforces the public perception that the tax benefits corporations, not individuals and families.
If it's successful, the more than 700,000 people who signed the petition will feel cheated. And the Liberals' chance of re-election in 2013 would shrink dramatically.
Surely the last thing the business community should want is an NDP government in three years.
Here's an example of how badly this could unfold, from Justine Hunter's article on the legal challenge in the Globe.
“We are not challenging the 700,000 people who signed the petition – they have been led down the garden path by the petitioners, they didn’t really know what they were signing,” said Rick Jeffrey, president of the Council of Forest Industries.
So it's not that the business groups disagree with the people who signed the petition; just that they think those 700,000 people are dupes too dim to know what they were signing.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement re launch of Judicial Review of HST initiative
Business Groups Seek Certainty on Validity of HST Extinguishment Act
Vancouver (June 29, 2010) - In a June 4, 2010 article in the Vancouver Sun, former BC Attorney General Geoff Plant questions the constitutional validity of the draft bill at the heart of the anti-HST initiative – the so-called “HST Extinguishment Act.”
Mr. Plant’s argument is rooted neither in the politics nor in the substantive merits of the HST itself. Rather, he focuses on whether or not the draft bill at the core of the anti-HST initiative can, constitutionally speaking, become law in British Columbia. If the draft legislation is unconstitutional, the B.C. legislature will be legally unable to enact the bill as drafted by its proponents, regardless of how many signatures the petition receives.
The vast majority of B.C. business organizations support the HST as an integral component of the province’s long-term economic prosperity. The tax will make B.C. businesses more competitive in Canada and around the world, and will encourage investment and job creation in the province. However, concerns about the constitutionality of the draft HST Extinguishment Act – such as those raised by Mr. Plant – give rise to uncertainty about the future of the province’s tax policy. This uncertainty has the potential to harm B.C. businesses and the economy at large.
Concerned about this uncertainty, a number of business associations have today filed for Judicial Review of the decision to approve the initiative petition and its draft bill in the first place. This process will enable a judge to make a simple determination as to whether the draft bill is constitutionally valid and therefore suitable for introduction to the Legislature. The petitioners are the Council of Forest Industries, the Mining Association of British Columbia, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, the Western Convenience Stores Association, the Coast Forest Products Association, and the BC Chamber of Commerce.
We are hopeful that the Judicial Review we have requested can be completed expeditiously, providing British Columbians with certainty and confidence that considerable time and money will not be expended on a draft bill that is constitutionally unsound and therefore incapable of becoming law. The Judicial Review will provide clarity as to whether or not the petition can legally move forward.
Seeking judicial review at this juncture will avoid the considerable legal confusion that would result if the initiative process were to proceed unchecked on its current course. There should be no hesitation whatsoever in taking the necessary steps to ensure that British Columbians are presented with all the pertinent facts as they consider government policies that will profoundly impact the province’s future.
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For further information, contact:
John Allan, President & CEO, Council of Forest Industries
Pierre Gratton, President & CEO, Mining Association of BC
Philip Hochstein, President, Independent Contractors & Businesses Assoc.
Wayne Hoskins, President, Western Convenience Stores Association
Rick Jeffery, President & CEO, Coast Forest Products Association
John Winter, President & CEO, BC Chamber of Commerce