‘People’s victory’ means pain ahead

NDP leader Adrian Dix couldn’t contain his glee at the result of the harmonized sales tax referendum. Bill Vander Zalm is thrilled too, still apparently unaware that he has taken money away from the poor and given it back to his fellow wealthy B.C. residents.

Bill Vander Zalm hops in his Mercedes S550 after his victory news conference in Vancouver Friday. He probably still believes he has helped the poor.

VICTORIA – NDP leader Adrian Dix couldn’t contain his glee at the result of the harmonized sales tax referendum.

He seemed positively giddy that the provincial budget will forgo $3 billion in revenue over the next few years, and clearly relishes the prospect of getting back to the legislature in October to resume his demands for more spending in every ministry of the B.C. government.

He can start soon, standing in passionate solidarity with B.C.’s 40,000 public school teachers as they strike to press their demands for huge increases in salary and benefits that already exceed what most private sector workers will ever see.

Bill Vander Zalm was thrilled too, beaming that famous smile as he climbed in his long black Mercedes to resume his comfortable retirement. He never expected to be able to leave the province in a mess one more time, but fate has been kind to him. He probably still believes he has helped the poor, as he claimed in his nonsensical rants against the HST.

This is the “people’s victory” that Dix crowed about. B.C. and the rest of the country are entering a perilous time where retired people outnumber the young and pension plans, private and public, grow increasingly fragile. And in classic baby-boomer style, our political response is self-centred and unrealistic.

An efficient tax system that ends the advantage given to services over goods, while raising revenue to lift up the poorest people, is now a dirty word. Any kind of meaningful tax reform will be politically radioactive for years to come.

Resource industries, the movie business and other private sector job generators can now plan for a significant B.C. disadvantage in 2013. Ontario can celebrate. Meanwhile, demand for government services to take care of the great grey blob that is my generation can only soar.

It’s not just old people outnumbering the young. I mentioned a while back that Canada has already passed another significant milestone. Statistics Canada reported in May on the people fortunate enough to have employer-supported pension plans in addition to government pension. And it turns out that 2010 was the first year in the country’s history where more public sector workers enjoyed this benefit than private sector workers.

Author Mark Steyn talks about this problem in relation to the troubles in Europe. He refers to the “Government Party,” which is the ever-growing public sector, and the “Dependency Party,” which is everyone on pensions and welfare. When those two “parties” constitute a majority, they can force the government to satisfy their demands without regard to economic reality.

This is what has happened in Greece. It is very close to happening in other European countries, and today B.C. is a step closer to it.

When the verdict came in on the HST referendum, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon talked about going around to consult the public on how to reinstate the provincial sales tax. He vowed that B.C. will somehow still balance its budget in two years, and seemed to leave the door open to some minor modifications of the sales tax system.

Premier Christy Clark quickly shut that door. It would be “disrespectful” to do anything other than bring back the post-war PST in all its rustic beauty, with the little boutique exemptions like bicycles and Toyota Priuses that have been attached by politicians over the years.

Self-employed business people can now look forward to collecting and remitting two separate taxes again.

There will be a cost to this “people’s victory.” It will involve reducing public services, raising taxes or both.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com

twitter.com/tomfletcherbc

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elk Valley municipalities send out 2020 property taxes

2020 property tax payments, annual utility payments, and homeowner grant applications are due July 2

ERA seeks to enhance local wetlands

The ERA proposed a new project at the lastest Committee of the Whole meeting

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

RDEK urges residents to be prepared for emergencies including flooding, wildfire

The East Kootenay region has been placed on a high streamflow advisory

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Most Read