British Columbia

HST recall drive to begin in B.C. on Jan. 1

Opponents of B.C.'s HST say they will launch recall campaigns against three B.C. Liberal MLAs on Jan. 1, and a new campaign against a different MLA every month until the government repeals the tax or loses its majority.

Opponents of B.C.'s HST say they will launch recall campaigns against three B.C. Liberal MLAs on Jan. 1, and a new campaign against a different MLA every month until the government repeals the tax or loses its majority.

A unique contest will be used to recruit volunteer canvassers and determine which MLAs are targeted.

Former premier Bill Vander Zalm and fellow Fight HST organizer Chris Delaney announced Monday morning in Vancouver that recruitment campaigns for volunteers are being launched in the ridings of 18 Liberal MLAs who are considered vulnerable.

Vander Zalm said his intention is to harness the competitive desires of the volunteers in the recruitment contest, which he called, "MLA survivor recall — vote them off the island," in a reference to the popular Survivor television show.

In January the three ridings that have signed up the most volunteers will be chosen to launch the first three recall campaigns, with a new campaign launched against a new MLA every month after that.

Vander Zalm's new 'hit list'

  • John Slater, Boundary-Similkameen.
  • Donna Barnett, Cariboo Chilcotin.
  • Terry Lake, Kamloops North.
  • Bill Bennett, Kootenay East.
  • Ida Chong, Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
  • Ron Cantelon, Parksville-Qualicum.
  • Bill Barisoff, Penticton.
  • Norm Letnik, Kelowna-Lake Country.
  • Ben Stewart, Kelowna-Westside.
  • Steve Thomson, Kelowna-Mission.
  • Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee.
  • John Les, Chilliwack.
  • Don McRae, Comox Valley.
  • John Rustad, Nechako Lakes.
  • Colin Hansen, Vancouver-Quilchena.
  • Jane Thornethwaite, North Vancouver-Seymour.
  • Joan McIntyre, West Vancouver-Sea to Sky.

  • Marc Dalton, Maple Ridge-Mission.

One of the listed Liberal MLAs, Terry Lake, bristled at being a recall target.

"I think Mr. Delaney is a bully, quite frankly," said Lake. "He's not going to be satisfied until he gets his way like a petulant child, and as far as I'm concerned, he can get stuffed."

Vander Zalm harnessed the power of thousands of discontented British Columbians to collect more than 500,000 valid signatures on a petition to repeal the HST. That forced Premier Gordon Campbell to promise a binding referendum on the tax next September.

But Vander Zalm says that is not soon enough, and he wants the legislature recalled for a free vote on the tax this fall.

"The premier has basically said, 'This is what we'll do, we won't change the legislation … but trust me,' and that's where we have a problem, I think that's where a lot of people have a problem," he said.

Recall requires 40%

Recalling any MLAs may prove more difficult than the petition campaign, which required the volunteers to collect signatures from 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the province's 85 ridings.

While that was hard enough, for the recall campaign the volunteers will have to start from scratch again and collect signatures from 40 per cent of eligible voters in the riding of each MLA they are targeting.

According to the Recall and Initiative Act, after a petition is issued, "the proponent then has 60 days to collect signatures from more than 40 per cent of the voters who were registered to vote in the member’s electoral district in the last election, and who are currently registered as voters in B.C. The proponent may be helped by volunteers when canvassing for signatures."

"When all the signed petition sheets are submitted, the chief electoral officer has 42 days to verify that enough eligible individuals have signed the petition. 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."

And under the province's recall legislation, the recall efforts can't officially start until 18 months after the most recent provincial election, meaning Nov. 15, 2010, and organizers will have only 60 days to collect signatures once they start.

Because of that 60-day time limit, Delaney said they decided to wait until after Christmas to launch the recall campaigns, so they would not be interrupted by the holidays.

No previous recall success

Since B.C.'s recall 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 B.C.

According to Elections B.C., the province's 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 in the legislature, the New Democrats have 35 and there are two Independents.