HST mail-out starts, despite postal disruptions
Elections BC will start mailing roughly three million mail-in ballots for the referendum on the controversial harmonized sales tax to voters on Monday, despite the expanding Canada Post service disruption.
On Monday the Canadian Union of Postal Workers' rotating job action hit Nanaimo, along with nine other cities across Canada. Canada Post also rolled out a service reduction, cutting mail delivery in most cities to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Ballots delivered June 13-17 to:
- Alberni-Pacific Rim
- Cariboo North
- Columbia River-Revelstoke
- Comox Valley
- Esquimalt-Royal Roads
- Juan de Fuca
- Kamloops-North Thompson
- Kamloops-South Thompson
- Kelowna-Lake Country
- Kootenay East
- Kootenay West
- Nanaimo-North Cowichan
- Nechako Lakes
- North Coast
- North Island
- Oak Bay-Gordon Head
- Peace River North
- Peace River South
- Powell River-Sunshine Coast
- Prince George-Mackenzie
- Prince George-Valemount
- Saanich North and the Islands
- Saanich South
- Victoria-Beacon Hill
- Victoria-Swan Lake
Voting packages will be delivered to the remaining 47 electoral districts June 20-24.
But despite the disruptions, ballots will be mailed out over the next two weeks and must be returned to Elections BC by July 22 in order to be counted.
However B.C.'s acting chief electoral officer Craig James says he has powers to extend the dates to return the ballots if full-blown post strike does happen.
The packages are being sent first to voters in the North, the Interior and the islands between June 13 and 17. Voting packages will be delivered to the rest of the province between June 20 and 24.
Voters who do not receive a voting package by June 24 may call Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683 to register to vote or update their voter record and request an HST Referendum Voting Package. The deadline to request a voting package is midnight, July 8.
British Columbians will face a yes or no question regarding the HST, voting yes to scrap the tax and return to the PST, or no to keep it.
Recent opinion polls suggest about 56 per cent of British Columbians are looking to scrap the unpopular tax, but B.C. Premier Christy Clark hopes that won't happen.
Opponents of the tax say it unfairly shifts too much of the tax burden from corporations to individuals and small business. Clark says scrapping the tax would cost the province billions of dollars and has passed legislation to hike corporate taxes and cut the HST to persuade voters to keep it.
But Clark says the results of the referendum will determine the fate of the tax.
"We'll accept the verdict that people give us, that's what I've said since the very beginning, I mean you put it in people's hands, they make the decision," said Clark.