Campaigns both for and against B.C.'s harmonized sales tax were launched in Vancouver Tuesday as the summer HST referendum approaches.

The B.C. Federation of Labour's anti-HST campaign parodies the stick-man cartoons the B.C. government has used to promote the tax in its referendum campaign.

"We believe the ads [the B.C. government is] running are dishonest," federation president Jim Sinclair said at the campaign launch Tuesday. "We don't think working people are going to be fooled by the government. Our appeal to working people is to learn about the tax and vote against the tax."

The federation has posted three parody stick-man ads online.

Confusion concerns

Sinclair admitted the federation launched the campaign despite some misgivings about the possibility the public will get confused about whose stick-man campaign is whose.

 "I'm concerned about confusion, yes," he said.

The Smart Tax Alliance — a coalition of 44 business groups — held an event of its own at a South Granville clothing store to argue that real people and businesses benefit from the tax.

"I'm planning now a renovation of one of my stores that will hopefully conclude in January of next year, largely because I can now take that HST savings and put it into my business," said John Rea, president of Edward Chapman Clothing Stores.

Critics of the tax have argued that the details of the arguments for and against the HST are too complicated. But B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said Tuesday he did not think that ultimately was a problem.

"I do think that even with the complexity, and there is some complexity, that the public is a lot smarter than I think everyone gives them credit [for]", Falcon said. "They will sift through it."

Postal delay

Elections BC started mailing out referendum ballots June 13, only to see them get stalled in the system due to the national postal worker lockout imposed the next day.

Elections BC said it would decide this week if it would extend the referendum timeline due to the labour dispute.

Ballots are currently due to be mailed back by July 22, with the results announced in the latter half of August.

With files from the CBC's Stephen Smart