Craig James helps minimize sting of B.C. Liberal government's HST loss

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      The province's acting chief electoral officer, Craig James, has done the B.C. Liberals a favour with the timing of the HST referendum results.

      By releasing the numbers on a Friday in late August, James chose one of the very best times of the year from the perspective of government communications staff.

      Many people are on holidays and not paying attention to the news. So today's release ensures citizens won't be paying as much attention as would have been the case if the numbers were publicized in September.

      A big advantage of issuing the results on a Friday is that it's more likely to be seen as "old news" on next week's talk shows.

      James did the B.C. Liberal government a second favour with his suggested wording of the question: "Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and reinstating the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) in conjunction with the GST Goods and Services Tax? Yes/No.”

      Asking people who hated the tax to vote "yes" served to confuse the issue. It's one of several reasons why James came under criticism from a citizens' group called Integrity B.C.

      The group's managing director, Dermod Travis, claimed in a commentary that the wording was "manipulative".

      The initiative headed by former premier Bill Vander Zalm succeeded anyway, even though there wasn't a level financial field between the "yes" and "no" forces.

      If the vote was closer—and if the "no" side won in a squeeker—we would probably be hearing a lot more about this issue in the future.

      Comments

      5 Comments

      Brenda Hamilton

      Aug 26, 2011 at 4:19pm

      The wording of the HST referendum was designed to fool people. There would have been a lot more "YES" votes otherwise. Sure Craig James did them favours, they are all in bed together! Despite the deceitful ads and wording of the question, the majority still won and Yabadadoo no more HST! Wonder if we could persuade Mr Vanderzalm to run for premier? I would be first in line to vote for him!

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      Morty

      Aug 26, 2011 at 11:27pm

      Why would there have been more "yes" votes if the wording had been clearer? Are you saying those who wanted to get rid of the HST were less likely to understand what they were voting for…wait; that's actually pretty accurate.

      The deceitful ads were entirely on the anti-HST side. The fact that the arguments in favour of it may not have been things you wanted to hear, or weren't prepared to believe, doesn't mean they were misleading; it means that you didn't understand the issue. The fact that you'd vote for Vander Zalm after the damage he did the last time around underscores that.

      Emil

      Aug 27, 2011 at 3:14am

      Just wait and see how the costs of going back are going to mount up. Oh i can see now the spin NDP will put on this.You just lit the fuse on this firecraker.

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      zubromak

      Aug 28, 2011 at 12:01pm

      Christy Clark promised that she'd lower the HST to 10% -- IN 2014!!! WHO thinks WHO is stupid. She made an empty manipulative promise, wrote her date in small print, and has begrudgingly acknowledged how angry the voters are with the Liberals and Drunkard Premier RIP. Stand up Christy on the highest platform and shout " WE BLEW IT!" No wonder the referendum succeeded -- WE THE GOVERNMENT IN POWER BLEW IT!" That would have gained her a lot more positive attention than her ingenuous typical manipulative politicking. And now they need two more years to revert back to the PST?!? This government deserves to be decimated.

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      Xian Qi

      Aug 31, 2011 at 1:01am

      So, James buried the matter by releasing the HST results on a Friday afternoon in late August. Seemed to work. I didn't read any news about the HST results. No headlines, nothing in the paper, nothing on the TV. Nobody seemed to hear about it. Nobody was talking about it. Now it's old news, and the Liberals can pretend the referendum never happened and they can continue on with the HST and win the next election. So, any more conspiracy theories?

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