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Leo Broderick led the discussion at a forum discussing the coming of the HST to P.E.I. (Brendan Elliott/CBC)

The first public forum on harmonized sales tax was held Monday night in Charlottetown, voting overwhelmingly in support of demanding a referendum on whether to bring the tax to P.E.I.

"We need Islanders to get angry over this," said Leo Broderick, the MC for the night.

"And we need to come up with a plan to stop the HST."

About 50 people showed up at a downtown community hall to voice their displeasure with the proposed tax. The government announced last month it would bring in the tax April 1, 2013.

In the group was Parnell Kelly, who ran unsuccessfully for the Progressive Conservatives in the fall provincial election. He said Islanders are being shut out of one of the biggest decisions in Island history.

"In times past, when we really needed [Islanders'] opinions on things, ie. the building of the new bridge, we went to referendum," said Kelly.

"Twenty-four people are deciding what's going to happen to 145,000."

Cindy Baird, leader of a group called Islanders against HST, has launched a petition with an ambitious target.

"If we can get about 45,000 people on this petition then we actually have a chance to stop this," said Baird.

There's approximately 97,000 eligible voters [on this Island] and that's approximately 50 per cent of that."

No sitting MLA from either party attended the meeting.

The HST, to be set at 14 per cent, will be lower than the current combined tax of 15.5 per cent, but there will be far fewer exemptions. On items such as clothing, electricity and gasoline Islanders currently only pay a five per cent GST.

The province has announced an enhanced tax rebate program to help low-income Islanders absorb the extra cost of the tax.

The government expects the HST will raise an extra $25 million in revenue a year.