British Columbia

B.C. NDP will not let HST story lie

The B.C. NDP is accusing the Liberal government of lying to voters about its plans to introduce a new harmonized sales tax. Parliamentary rules, however, prevented New Democrats from literally saying so inside the legislature Wednesday, forcing MLAs to come up with new ways to say the government may be being less than truthful.

The B.C. NDP is accusing the Liberal government of lying to voters about its plans to introduce a new harmonized sales tax.

But parliamentary rules prevented New Democrats from literally saying so inside the legislature Wednesday, forcing MLAs to come up with new ways to say the government may be being less than truthful.

The new harmonized sales tax (HST) was not on his radar before the election, B.C. Finance Minister Colin Hansen told the legislature Wednesday. Only in late May – after the provincial election – did the federal government come up with an attractive proposal for B.C., Hansen said.

The opposition leader wasn't buying the story

"It's that side of the legislature that lied to the people," said B.C. NDP leader Carole James, who then quickly corrected herself. "Sorry, I withdraw," James told the Speaker.

Using the word "lie" is banned in B.C. as it is in many British-style parliaments. Members using the forbidden verb will be ejected from the house until they withdraw the accusation.

But the New Democrats found lots of other phrases, such as:

  • "Impossible to accept."
  • "People are scoffing at this explanation."
  • "British Columbians don't believe this finance minister's absurd story."
  • "That fine line between chutzpah and chutzpidity."

Unrestricted by the same rules outside the legislature, James had no qualms about using stronger language.

"They lied. They didn't tell the truth to the public during the election," James said.

Hansen and Premier Gordon Campbell announced July 23 that the government would introduce an HST in the summer of 2010.

It will combine the federal five-per-cent Goods and Services Tax with the seven-per-cent B.C. provincial sales tax, resulting in higher costs for many consumer goods and services that previously were not subject to the provincial tax.

The B.C. NDP has launched a petition campaign opposing the HST, while former Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm said he's organizing an anti-HST rally in Vancouver Sept. 19.

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