Tag Archives: HST

Politics, Re-Spun on Coop Radio, September 5, 2011

Spending Labour Day with Imtiaz Popat on “The Rational” on Vancouver’s COOP Radio, talking about Christy Clark’s revocation of a pre-2013 election date [coup, not really a premier, perhaps a “notional premier”], the end of the HST, the BCTF negotiations and how the courts noted how the government yanked almost $3 billion from BC’s K-12 system over the last 10 years, the federal NDP leadership race and the Canucks riot report as it relates to Vancouver’s municipal political scene.

Apologies for the abrupt ending: technical difficulties.

And a note on the BCTF strike action in Kelowna: it sounded ambiguous that the teachers were the ones who canceled recess. The teachers are going to start the school year not supervising at recess. The school board decided to cancel recess. This way, administrators don’t have to supervise that 15 minute chunk of time each year. See here.

Politics, Re-Spun on Coop Radio, April 18, 2011

Imtiaz Popat and I celebrated the beginning of the last two weeks of the federal election campaign on “The Rational” last night. The video podcast is below. Here is what we talked about:

  • the BC NDP leadership race/outcome
  • how yesterday is the beginning of how Clark and Dix will define their leadership and competition, regardless of how the various leadership campaigns went
  • the HST referendum and the travesty that the government will spend most of the summer sitting on the results
  • the Vancouver-Point Grey by-election
  • how voter fatigue is somewhat a ploy by the right wing to encourage us to be lazy and not embrace our democratic power
  • Clark is not at all about families first
  • reversing corporate tax cuts is not going to affect the poorest 95% of BC/Canada, just the rich and corporations
  • how the federal debates went
  • why the NDP is polling higher and why people like Jack Layton so much
  • Harper’s scare tactics are failing
  • why Canadians are beginning to understand and appreciate life after majority governments
  • how people are tired of Harper’s politics of hate

Ringing in the New Year with a Cactus Club Boycott

Truly, it’s hard to figure out who to boycott among the supporters of BC’s ugly, regressive HST listed at SupportHST.ca. Most of the supporters are with businesses I’ve never heard of as a consumer, so I’m ignoring them. Nurse Next Door I oppose because I like my public healthcare delivered publicly and I’m currently not in need of home care nursing. But Cactus Club, that’s something worth boycotting for several reasons.

I know a number of people who wouldn’t eat there because of how they package their female employees. I know a number of people who refuse to embrace their style and prices. But if you would like a further reason to not contribute to their profits, it’s their vacant support of the HST.

Firstly, just a few things wrong with the HST:

  1. It’s a regressive tax as it punishes lower income earners by dinging them for a larger percentage of their take home income than higher income earners.
  2. It’s designed to be revenue-neutral, meaning it is a new tax designed to bring in no new revenue to the provincial government. Combine that with the removal of the PST and you get a $2b tax cut for corporations. But going back to revenue neutrality means that $2b will have to come from someone’s pockets. And while the government’s literature is happy with how businesses can pass on their process tax savings to customers, there is no law requiring that and if you know the goal of corporations, maximizing shareholder wealth, you can guess where that savings will end up.
  3. The government lied about bringing in the tax.

Now let’s watch the short video presentation by the Chief Operating Officer of Cactus Club Restaurants describing why he likes the HST, despite the fact that the Cactus Club is a…restaurant, a kind of business that is hurting because of this new bottom line tax: Support HST : Andrew Latchford : COO : Cactus Club Restaurants.

A few things about the argument-free talking points blindly supporting the HST in this video clip:

  1. What are the alternatives Latchford looked at? The HST replaced the PST which taxed business inputs, thereby reducing profits. With those taxes gone, the HST increases profitability. What other alternatives did he explore, and why were they less effective than the HST, and what are the criteria he used to evaluate the alternatives? No answers there.
  2. Why doesn’t he actually mention the added benefits that come with the HST? Failing to do so means I’m left to conclude that it’s just a tax shift from his business to his customers.
  3. It would be nice that upon coming to the conclusion that the HST is good, he would actually share that rationale, beyond just more money in his pockets.
  4. It is already improving the economic outlook of global shareholders investing in businesses in the province because businesses have a lower tax bill, which the government is recouping from citizens. Many of those now more profitable businesses [like all the global corporations operating in BC] will send their increased profits out of the province to these foreign shareholders. How is this wealth sucking out of our province good for the province? It’s not. It’s good for the global corporations and their compradors the BC Liberal government works for.
  5. An improved outlook as a province is a truly vague statement with no defined statement of the economic good being pursued or the means for measuring that. How that [whatever that is] will magically translate into more people eating at Cactus Club is another argument he doesn’t bother to explain. All I know now is that many citizens with a higher tax bill are eating in restaurants less and along the way tipping their servers less. Ask around.
  6. Sadly, his goal is to reduce confusion about the HST. He’s quite failed at that, sending out further talking points with no meat to back them up.
  7. Being finance minister for a day, oh how I wish. The finance minister of the BC Liberal government is tasked with privatizing all public services, reducing all burdens on corporations and marketizing as much as possible as fast as possible. One way to do that is to collect little or no tax from corporations, increase taxes and user fees on citizens and reduce public services as much as possible. This is a massive failure of a finance minister would is actually accountable to the citizens of the province. It is not surprising that the Cactus Club management likes this model so much.
  8. Sadly, his advice to understand the alternatives is pretty empty. He hasn’t demonstrated he understands any of the alternatives, rationales or consequences of this regressive tax.

But if I were finance minister for a day, my goal would be to encourage people to be happy paying taxes because they are how we buy things together as a society, like high quality, universal education and healthcare, water, sewage, transportation, social services, sexual abuse hotlines, elder care, hospice care for people to die with dignity, hot lunches for school kids living in poverty, environmental protection, an environmentally sustainable transition economy that puts our citizens and the planet first, treatment for people with addictions, reclaiming toxic soils, pursuing bioregional food security, cleaning our polluted waters, protecting endangered species and enhancing biodiversity, settling generations-long land claims with victimized citizens, pursuing justice for victims of residential schools, encouraging scientific and artistic and philosophical exploration, and a few hundred other things.

These things we cannot do if we defund our government of a revenue base and impoverish our vulnerable citizenry while allowing global corporations to embark on a new era of operations in BC, the world’s newest tax haven!

Seriously, those who truly support the HST, I challenge you to explain just how this magical HST will accomplish any of these good things and explain why all my criticisms are incorrect.

Clueless, Ida Chong Spins and Begs For Her Political Life

Welcome to December, Ida Chong! This will be a hard month for you.

MLA Chong has been given an opportunity to trot out Gordon Campbell’s HST spin in a Georgia Straight piece published online yesterday. In it, she essentially begs for her political future.

The reality, though, is that her tired explanations betray an ignorance, disregard or contempt for the current political climate and expectations of democracy in BC. This is no surprise because the Liberal government has pursued an anti-social, neoliberal agenda since before being elected. That agenda explicitly rejects the value of social cohesion. So it comes as no surprise that Campbell’s natural successor, Kevin Falcon, credits inspiration from the neoliberal Olympians Thatcher and Reagan.

Below are Ida Chong’s hollow pleas for her skin.

I understand that the decision to implement the HST, coming so soon after the last election angered many people. They are frustrated and upset that this significant change in taxation was introduced in this manner, and more importantly that our government did a poor job of communicating why we feel the HST is necessary. For that, I certainly apologize.

via Ida Chong: Recall campaign is not about HST but refighting last election | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com.

This is the extent that the government will ever acknowledge wrongdoing. This ignores how they released FOI records to the media on the HST deliberations while claiming to the NDP in response to their FOI request that there were no records.

It also parrots out the “coming so soon after the last election” spin that it began after the votes were counted.

The Liberal party is choosing to define the anger of half a million British Columbians as bad PR. That’s easy to apologize for. That way they can ignore the need to apologize for claiming before the election that the HST wasn’t on the radar when it clearly was. That’s lying. That’s a calculated lie because to tell the truth about even considering the HST before the election may have been enough to destroy them. Fudge-it budget, meet your sibling: HST.

However, the recall campaign currently underway is not about the HST. Recalling your MLA will not eliminate the HST—the September 2011 referendum will determine that. So why recall, and why now? Quite frankly, I believe recall is being used as a political means to extract a political benefit for the NDP and for fringe right-wing parties. Unfortunately, recall is being used to refight the last election by creating a byelection. The recall campaign in my riding is being organized by someone who lives in NDP MLA Carole James’s riding, and many of the campaign’s volunteers and canvassers are not constituents of Oak Bay-Gordon Head but come from as far away as the Comox Valley. If people who live in Oak Bay-Gordon Head wish to speak with me or recall me, they can, but I do not believe we should accept outsiders coming in to our community, telling us what to do.

She’s right that recall won’t get rid of the HST. This, however, is irrelevant to people’s current sense of democracy. People wish to recall Liberal MLAs, especially vulnerable ones like Chong, because the party lied about the HST before the election. Because the Liberals choose to ignore that, they need an alternate story. The above paragraph is that: spin and deflection.

Also, while the NDP and other parties may happen to benefit from recall, painting this battle as merely refighting an election the opposition lost is an over-simplification that inflames the ire of the half million verified signatures on the initiative petition.

The fact that people from all over Vancouver Island are gleefully volunteering to remove a member of a political party which is perceived to have lied about a regressive tax to avoid losing an impending election demonstrates the breadth of opposition, assuming the initiative’s success in all 85 ridings was not enough.

Further, chatter from the Liberal leadership candidates about reducing the HST or moving up the referendum debate reflects that the party acknowledges their error, so Chong should not be surprised that the party is being targeted.

Her argument about non-riding volunteers is pale. It only works if the political culture around the province, even between regional ridings, is so wildly different that the presence of volunteers from outside the riding is merely manipulation. But the initiative passed in all 85 ridings, so there is nothing special about her riding beyond the zeal to fire her.

Recall legislation was implemented so that the public had recourse against an MLA who broke the law or committed serious ethical violations. It was designed to remove an MLA who has committed wrongdoing, and was never intended to be used as retribution against MLAs for an unpopular vote in the legislature. In September, NDP president Moe Sihota told members of his party that “the law forbids organizations from being proponents for recall; it has to be done by individuals. Below the surface though, it’s a partisan effort.” Recall legislation is being used, explicitly and admittedly, as a political, partisan tool to bully MLAs and to try to push British Columbia into political instability, by former MLAs like Bill Vander Zalm (who was forced to resign due to a conflict-of-interest scandal) and Sihota (who would like to effect a byelection for the NDP).

She is correct about why recall was implemented originally. It was designed to remove someone who broke the law or violated ethics. What kind of broken law is sufficient to justify recall? Fraud, assault, speeding, drunk driving, shoplifting, attempted murder? Those are not spelled out in the legislation so that the political community could decide. The public, bathing in the contemporary political culture will decide. I’m certain the premier would have been recalled almost 8 years ago if he didn’t represent a riding so incredibly enamoured with neoliberalism, greed and tax cuts.

What about ethics, then? Littering, leaving lights on in empty rooms, not recycling, watching an NC-17 movie, spanking a child, having an affair? Is lying ethical? The Liberal Party lied about selling BC Rail and ripping up public sector contracts. They were vulnerable to recall this whole decade if people think lying is unethical. Ida Chong would have us believe that it takes more than lying for a recall-worthy ethical violation.

But she is wrong.

She has been deluded to think her party is untouchable because BC’s political culture did not embrace recall as an option before now. That is just sad. The political culture of BC has evolved under the tyrannical rule of the Liberals to the point where, again, 85 ridings all passed the HST initiative.

Chong or her speech writers again attempt to spin the issue into recall as punishment for her voting for a bill. She was wrong about this being about refighting the last election, though there are some who have that as an added bonus, and she is equally wrong about this being about a legislative vote. It is about the substantial evidence indicating the party lied before the election.

The fact that the NDP and other parties and organizations contain as members some individuals who will gleefully attempt to recall lying Liberals, minus Blair Lekstrom of course, is merely a reality of life. Membership in an organization cannot be justified as an impediment for a citizen to participate in recall. The NDP was unlucky that their president’s words were publicized, but I guarantee you, the fringe right wing parties that Chong refers to have said the exact same thing.

But it is in this paragraph that I am personally offended by her use of the word “bully.” Leaving out Bill Bennett’s characterization of Gordon Campbell as a bully, the Liberal party has spent almost a decade bullying the vulnerable in BC. It is the height of disrespect for Ida Chong to claim she is being bullied by people who feel she should lose her job because she committed the ethical violation of lying before an election. Bullying implies an innocent victim. She is not.

It is no wonder political cynicism is so high and voter turnout dropped below 50%.

Everyone, even my political opponents in the NDP, acknowledge that I am one of the hardest-working constituency-focused MLAs in this province. I have worked extremely hard for my community, and the evidence of this is clear throughout Oak Bay-Gordon Head, from a new $350-million hospital, expansions and renovations at the University of Victoria, Camosun College, as well as the public schools that have been seismically upgraded. The investment in parks, bike lanes, and many other projects I have supported and advocated for over 14 years as MLA are achievements I am very proud of. I have always conducted myself in a professional and ethical manner and have considered the diverse opinions of the constituents of Oak Bay-Gordon Head in performing my duties as MLA.

On the surface, I have a hard time caring much for how hard an MLA works in their constituency when their party has lost its moral mandate to govern.

Honestly, if Ida Chong were actually such a star MLA in her riding, I wonder why she was reelected by only 561 votes 18 months ago. Maybe that perception just isn’t getting through to the people.

It further shows the disconnectedness of her party from the reality of British Columbians. She champions seismic upgrading of her riding’s schools. By next year, over 200 schools in BC will have been closed from the Liberal party defunding public education. That was an unfortunate example in her letter. Let’s make sure she lives with it.

While she may claim to conduct herself ethically as a riding representative, she is a member of a political party that lied about a new regressive tax to avoid an electoral defeat. She needs to realize that the populace of BC does not consider that to be an ethical action. Hence, the recall.

Our government has made tough, sometimes unpopular choices to ensure the fiscal stability and economic prosperity of our province into the future. Whether you agree with some, all, or none of the things our government has done, whether you support or oppose the HST, I hope you agree that there are appropriate forums to have these debates, including elections and the upcoming referendum. Recall is not one of them.

Ida Chong is the B.C. Liberal MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

The Liberal party rhetoric that they have made tough choices is tired. Upon first getting elected they embarked on the Thatcher/Reagan/Shock Doctrine tactic of a massive tax cut that reduced government revenues, thereby forcing themselves into having to be the tough love parent who has to make tough choices about what social services to gouge.

This is tired, insulting rhetoric.

Ultimately, her assertion that recall is not a venue for the public to deal with politicians’ ethical violations is just desperate, clueless, cynical, or all three.

I, for one, am among hundreds of thousands who are mad as hell and simply won’t take the abuse anymore.

I doubt Ida Chong or her party will be able to come up with any better spin to attempt to stave off the recall of a healthy portion of Liberal MLAs.

The always tenuous moral legitimacy of the BC Liberal party has run out of lives.

Premier Abbott and the September 24, 2011 BC Election

I owe a debt of gratitude to Charlie Smith for saving me the time of writing all about how May 2013 won’t be the next provincial election date. I was going to say all this before he wrote about it yesterday, but I have more below.

One thing is clear: the next B.C. election will likely take place well before 2013.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that the next leader of the B.C. Liberal party will be chosen within the next seven months.

It’s unlikely that this person will sit as premier for almost two years without a mandate from the electorate.

via Premier Gordon Campbell’s resignation guarantees Carole James will lead NDP in next election | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com.

The rest of his article is about how Carole James will lead the NDP into the next earlier-than-expected election. He’s right about the lack of time for the party to vote her off the island, but if she happens to voluntarily resign there would be a new leader.

What we’ve seen with Campbell is pressure from inside the party for him to leave. Languishing at 9% approval rating in the polls for weeks wasn’t enough to dislodge him. In the coming days, we’ll hear more about the caucus revolt and the members planning to resign from caucus if he didn’t quit. Thus we’ll see what it took for him to lead himself out the door.

So, if Carole James happens to not be the leader of the NDP in the next election it won’t have anything to do with what happens at their next convention in 55 weeks, but it will be an internal matter.

But getting back to Premier Abbott, I’m prepared to go on the record with my prediction that George Abbott will be the next Liberal leader and he’ll pair a provincial election for a valid mandate with the HST referendum on September 24, 2011. That will save a pile of cash.

Earlier yesterday I expected there to be a short, quiet, backroom caucus deal for a new leader leading into their Penticton convention later this month. This would avoid a long, bloody skirmish that would make the Vancouver Board of Trade nervous.

Happily I was spared that now irrelevant prediction by learning last night that the party’s postponing/canceling its convention. Whew.

So why Abbott? He’s a level-headed moderate compared to Campbell’s golden straightjacket, knife-wielding, neoliberal privatization agenda. He certainly drank the Liberal Kool-Aid all along and has his right wing elements that are worrisome, but he was the only one to ever call the premier on his bullying tone. And he paid for it with a cabinet demotion. Bill Bennett did it too just days ago, but that doesn’t count because Campbell was already a lame duck leader.

Regardless of whoever is running the BC NDP, the backroom wisdom of the Liberal party will want someone who at least appears more moderate leading into the next election. Anyone more moderate would evaporate whatever wedging the NDP has been doing in appealing to the centre, centre-right and business interests.

The next variable to scuttle my prediction of the election date will be if the HST ends up at risk of being pulled before the referendum in September, which I think will be wildly unlikely. Ultimately, there is no need to sacrifice the HST when Campbell offered himself up as the samurai fall guy.

At least I got that prediction right.

Regardless, we are in for some interesting times in every aspect of provincial politics in the next few weeks and months. And don’t forget that there are municipal elections scheduled for across the province in 54 weeks, so the farm teams of provincial parties will have members jockeying for positions to be called up to the show, this may include various mayors. And with the possibility of Chuck Strahl and other federal politicians being drafted or jumping into the mix, we could see the face of BC politics on all levels transform significantly before September 2011 ends.

Politics, Re-Spun on Coop Radio, Labour Day 2010

Imtiaz Popat and I celebrated Labour Day on “The Rational” last night. The video podcast is below.

We discussed:

  • Labour Day
  • my Labour Day article today: “Labour Day, Dignity and Doubling the CPP”
  • volunteer labour
  • dignity for seniors
  • doubling the CPP because $11,000/year is unacceptable
  • BC’s pathetic minimum wage
  • a fall federal election could lead to a Liberal minority government and time to leverage them for economic dignity
  • student poverty is a result of right wing ideological choices: post-secondary education is seen as an income boost and the government wants its cut
  • the government is managing our CPP funds by investing in tar sands and privatized highways
  • BC’s Gateway Project and the North American transportation infrastructure vs. Peak Oil
  • workers and unions need to engage in society by working in coalition with community groups and climate justice
  • corporations and government employers are not taking the lead on greening our society, so workers need to
  • extremism, xenophobia and skapegoating
  • increased corporate profitability, how productivity gains aren’t trickling down to workers: class war
  • all majority governments are bad right now, especially considering how much of the social conservative agenda being introduced by Harper with just a minority government
  • BC Conservative party’s increasing viability, along with the BC Greens means more of a chance of a BC minority government in 2013
  • what will it take for a BC political party to say they’ll actually get rid of the HST?
  • and we would have talked about this intensely if I had read it in time!

The video podcast of the conversation lives at Vista Video.

You can watch it in Miro, the best new open source multimedia viewing software: http://www.miroguide.com/feeds/8832


You can watch it in iTunes: itpc://dgivista.org/pod/Vista_Podcasts.xml


The podcast file is at http://dgivista.org/pod/COOP.Radio.2010.09.06.mov


Making the Liberals Eat their HST Lies

Before we explore how the BC Liberals are going to spin their extended lie about not having the HST on their radar before the 2009 election, based on FOI records released Wednesday, let’s first take a look at how the National Post bungled its BC reporting today.

In this piece, they pick up the Jordan Bateman story, where Minister Coleman’s riding president wrote a blog piece calling for Hansen’s resignation.

That part they got right.

Then they decided to not follow the story, for like an hour, when it became a much bigger story as Bateman retracted his piece and apologized to the minister after a personal phone call. But the National Post stopped caring and let that part of the story go. Maybe it’s because they are run from 3 time zones away.

The minister is Colin Hansen, who is not the person in the picture.

Finally, lacking insight, information, context and background, the Post decided the precipitating event of Bateman’s call for Hansen’s resignation was the $780k wasted on the HST pamphlet, not the FOI release the day before proving that the Liberals had been lying for 14 months.

Fail. Monstrous fail. But not surprising.

So now, on to the Liberals’ spin factory, the point of which is to let everyone know that if we let this blow over by September 13, it’s our fault for being our part in a bigger failure.

  1. The minister personally phoned a bunch of reporters on Wednesday. I don’t expect that made them feel special, but the personal touch is touching.
  2. There was a 4pm embargo of the release of the FOI story on Wednesday. If the media who issued the FOI request arranged that, that’s their business. If Hansen orchestrated the 4pm time, that’s some hefty spin.
  3. Does the premier’s office interfere with the timing of FOI records release? If so, releasing the information on a Wednesday before Labour Day has some advantages.
    1. That leaves one day for media juice. Fridays are dead in the news cycle; doubly so for Fridays before long weekends [Note the millions who aren’t reading this post this afternoon!]. If the government set up the 4pm embargo [doubtful], they eradicate most of Wednesday for blowback.
    2. A long weekend happens and everyone’s brains reset. Last year they released a budget before Labour Day when billions of British Columbians were still at the cabin.
    3. Next week is school. The media will be obsessed with full-day kindergarten and other traditional fluff and not-so fluff back to school stories.
  4. Then when Bateman went rogue and lit a fire, he got a call from the minister. Bateman was converted and born again to the righteousness of the minister, apologized to him on the phone and in a blog piece, and he took down his rogue blog piece. Was Bateman threatened? Was he rationally convinced in a way that he chose not to explain in his apology blog piece, which has no explanation as to why he felt the FOI release was irrelevant to Hansen’s integrity? Will Bateman become a Liberal candidate at some point?

All this means that if we still care about the HST lies by Monday, September 13, 2010 and the media decides to continue caring and the BC Recall campaigners can stoke the embers, the Liberals will have failed at spinning the FOI evidence into oblivion.

If we don’t, it’s our own fault for letting the media let the government bury this.