British Columbia’s anti-HST campaigners say they expect to gather enough signatures across the province by this weekend to force the government to reconsider implementing the new tax.
Opponents of the harmonized sales tax have attained 10 per cent support in 84 of 85 electoral ridings thus far, and hope to achieve 15 per cent backing provincewide by the time they submit the petition to Premier Gordon Campbell’s government on July 5.
“The HST is a cruel tax,” said Port Coquitlam-based campaigner Chris Delaney, who added the tax would put undue pressure on working families.
Delaney added that many B.C. residents he’s spoken to feel betrayed by Campbell’s government and are concerned about the loss of provincial sovereignty that a federally administered harmonized tax would imply.
The Liberals announced plans to adopt the HST last year, two months after saying there would be no new taxes during a provincial election campaign.
Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen have stressed the new tax will create jobs and help bring the province out of a recession, while accusing anti-HST campaigners of misleading the public.
The HST deal also came with $1.6 billion from the federal government, which the province has used to control its deficit.
Delaney suggested that in lieu of imposing the HST, the provincial government should consider internal structural changes to cut costs and increase revenue.
with files from The Canadian Press