British Columbia

Anti-HST forces livid about B.C. documents

The leaders of the anti-HST forces in B.C. say documents made public Wednesday support the view that the provincial government has lied to the public.

'It was a lie from the beginning ... they should call an election,' Vander Zalm says

The leaders of the anti-HST forces in B.C. say documents made public Wednesday support the view that the provincial government has lied to the public.

The documents show that senior bureaucrats in the B.C. finance ministry had briefed politicians on the HST as early as January 2009.

The documents also indicate ministry officials put specific questions to federal tax officials in early May 2009, asking how B.C. could tailor the HST to its needs.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and B.C. Finance Minister Colin Hansen have both repeatedly said the HST was not on the government's "radar" prior to the May 2009 election.

B.C. NDP Leader Carole James said Wednesday the documents show the government was planning the HST all along, but not telling the electorate about it.

"It's pretty clear from these documents it was on their radar screen," James said. "They were looking at the HST. They were exploring options … I don't know how many how ways they can continue to hide and come up with excuses."

Former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm, who led the successful Fight HST petition in the province, also said the documents are disturbing.

"It was a lie from the beginning," Vander Zalm told CBC News on Wednesday. "It's the biggest lie we've ever experienced in the history of the province and I think the premier and the minister of finance should step down. They should recall the legislature and they should call an election."

CBC News and other media organizations obtained the 134 pages of documents through a Freedom of Information request.

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