"...an idea by government that forgot to bring the public along"
BC's minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources, Blair Lestrom, has felt the sting of his constituents' fury over the provincial Libs implementation of the HST, harmonized sales tax. Today Lestrom resigned from cabinet and from the Liberal caucus.
People out here are outraged and, worse, those who seem most upset are the traditional core supporters of the right of centre "liberal" government. My MLA, another Liberal, knows that all too well. He knows that a lot of those who voted him in won't repeat the favour the next time around and, while he won't openly criticize Gordon Campbell, he freely admits the HST initiative was horribly bungled.
What irks opponents most is the hamfisted way premier Campbell sprung it on the public. Campbell didn't even mention it until just a few days after winning his third term in May, 2009 when he announced the BC government was pursuing negotiations with Ottawa.
Are there merits to the HST? Of course there are, some at least. Are there provisions made to offset the impact to the most vulnerable? Sure, sort of. So what's the big fuss? It was keeping the public in the dark about this during the election and then, days later, introducing it as something of a done deal closed to discussion.
BC has a law allowing the public to present a petition calling on the government to reconsider an unpopular bill. It requires 10% of the voters in each of the province's 85-riding to sign up. The anti-HST campaigners say they've got at least 15% in each riding.
The government isn't bound to scrap the HST law but waiting in the wings is British Columbia's recall legislation. The G&M has listed eight BC Liberal MLA's said to be most vulnerable to recall. Depending on how badly Campbell plays his hand, eight could be just the beginning.