British Columbia

HST recall campaign takes aim at 5 MLAs

Liberal legislature members Ida Chong, Murray Coell, Don McRae, Terry Lake and Donna Barnett are the MLAs who will be targeted in B.C.'s anti-HST recall campaign, organizers have announced.

Cabinet minister Ida Chong selected as 1st target

Liberal B.C. legislature members Ida Chong, Murray Coell, Don McRae, Terry Lake and Donna Barnett are the MLAs who will be targeted in the province's anti-HST recall campaign, organizers say.

The first campaign targeting Chong, the minister of sciences and universities, will launch on Nov. 22 in her riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

Campaign organizer and former premier Bill Vander Zalm said organizers in Chong's riding signed up more than 600 volunteer canvassers to gather signatures in an attempt to recall the MLA.

Ridings targeted

  • Ida Chong, Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
  • Murray Coell, Saanich North.
  • Don McRae, Comox Valley.
  • Terry Lake, Kamloops North.
  • Donna Barnett, Cariboo-Chilcotin.

After Christmas, recall campaigns will be launched against Coell, who is environment minister, then McRae, followed by campaigns against Lake and Barnett in the province's Interior.

Vander Zalm said even though a referendum will be held on the tax, and despite Premier Gordon Campbell's surprise decision to step down over the issue, the recall campaigns will continue until the HST is cancelled.

60 days to collect signatures

In September, Vander Zalm and fellow anti-HST campaign organizer Chris Delaney released their so-called hit list of 18 MLAs who could be subject to recall campaigns unless the government agreed to cancel the Harmonized Sales Tax. Two names, including Coell's, were later added to that list.

At the time, they said the ridings that signed up the most volunteers would be chosen to launch the first three recall campaigns, with a new campaign against another MLA started every month after that. But on Monday, the group announced it would be launching five recall campaigns.

Under the province's Recall and Initiative Act, recall efforts can't officially start until 18 months after the most recent provincial election, meaning Nov. 15, 2010.

Delaney originally said his group decided to wait until after Christmas to launch the recall campaigns, so as not to be interrupted by the holidays.

Once the campaigns start, organizers and their volunteers will have 60 days to collect signatures from 40 per cent of eligible voters in the riding of each MLA they are targeting, according to Elections BC.

"If enough valid signatures are on the petition, and the financing rules have been met by the proponent, the member ceases to hold office and a byelection must be called within 90 days. A recalled member can run as a candidate in the byelection," says the Elections BC website.

Since B.C.'s legislation was passed, 20 campaigns have been launched to recall MLAs. In 19 cases they failed to collect enough signatures, and in one case the MLA resigned before the verification process was completed by Elections BC.

According to Elections BC, the Recall and Initiative Act is unique in Canada. No other province or territory has a system for removing elected representatives from office between elections.

The Liberals have 48 seats, the New Democrats have 35 and there are two Independents.