Initially, the harmonized sales tax was introduced here to maintain B.C.’s economic level with that of Ontario.
Recognizing economic advantages for business and investment and, ultimately, increased returns to provincial taxpayers, Ontario decided to drop its provincial sales tax for the far more efficient HST.
Unfortunately, Mr. Campbell’s clumsy implementation of HST, resulted in Bill Vander Zalm and supporters kicking the issue into the political arena, obscuring the economic reasons for the changeover. Vander Zalm, a pied piper, whistled a tune irresistible to the anti-Campbell multitudes. They were joined by businesses who previously enjoyed PST exemption, and by the provincial opposition, who envisaged political advantage whistling the same tune.
Meanwhile, Ontario’s HST implementation proceeded without fuss, causing a chuckle at B.C.’s attempt to extricate itself from a predicament of its own making.
Now approaching the proverbial cliff, will the pied piper lead his supporters over the edge to the entanglement below, or will an advance to relative stability prevail?
Should a majority vote “yes” to return PST, the ruling party will have great difficulty disentangling B.C. from the already functioning HST. This would mean reinstating a bureaucracy to operate PST, more paperwork for all businesses, eliminating compensatory cheques for those with low incomes, repaying money to Ottawa received under the HST agreement, and slowing job creation, thereby ceding economic advantage to provinces embracing HST.
So, avoiding confusing rhetoric, those with the economic well-being of B.C. in mind, would vote no. If the yes vote prevails, B.C. will head backwards into the future, with the HST rejection weighing heavily around its neck and slowing development.
Ontario, with its advantage complete, could raise the chuckle to an outright guffaw.