Now can we talk about the HST?

VICTORIA – Even if movies based on video games aren’t your cup of tea, the recent Disney production Tron: Legacy is notable as a measure of the sophistication of the B.C. motion picture industry.

VICTORIA – Even if movies based on video games aren’t your cup of tea, the recent Disney production Tron: Legacy is notable as a measure of the sophistication of the B.C. motion picture industry.

A showcase of the latest computer-generated 3D effects, including a rendering of actor Jeff Bridges as he looked in the original version 30 years ago, Tron: Legacy was nominated for an Oscar and won several other awards for technical achievement.

The sleek, lighted suits worn by characters were custom-made in the United States at a cost of $22 million, then brought to Vancouver for filming. Due to the vagaries of the old provincial sales tax, Disney had to pay about $1.5 million in PST because they were used here.

A friend in the business tells me this was more of a deterrent to movie production in B.C. than the current weakness of the U.S. dollar. It’s the kind of expensive insult added to the injury of dealing with two different, complicated sales taxes, and it’s one of many unintended business problems fixed by harmonized sales tax.

Despite B.C.’s reputation for movie wizardry, the next Tron might be made somewhere else if the HST is rejected.

Regular readers will know I am an advocate of the HST, and the general trend away from income taxes and towards consumption taxes. But most people I talk to aren’t interested in the economics, except as it relates to their own wallets.

They don’t believe that taxes imposed on business will either be passed on to consumers, or avoided by changing locations. And they are bombarded with bogus arguments in this spring of election fever.

Federal NDP leader Jack Layton is the worst offender. Like his B.C. counterparts, he has run to the front of the anti-HST parade. Unlike the B.C. NDP, Layton knows he will never have to implement his promises in government, so he offers to write off the $1.6 billion transition fund that B.C. has applied to its deficit. In effect, the rest of the provinces would subsidize B.C. for bringing back an archaic sales tax.

That’s not even Layton’s dumbest idea. He’s been wandering the country promising to remove GST from heating bills, a $700 million tax cut that would help the rich as much as the poor. Surely B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix would not approve of such a regressive tax shift.

(Presumably Layton has been briefed by now that B.C.’s portion of the HST doesn’t apply to heating bills, so he won’t confuse us with Ontario any more.)

Dix talks about HST falling on small business. There is an impact on service businesses, notably restaurants, but ask a self-employed person or small business operator if they’d like to go back to administering two different sales taxes.

Quarterly HST rebate cheques went out last week to more than a million B.C. residents at the lowest end of the income scale. Ask those people if they’d like to lose that benefit, a real example of the kind of income equalizing measure that Dix calls his top priority.

Ask a laid-off mill employee if he’d like to go back to work, and pay HST on movies and a dinner out.

• Further to last week’s column about Dix’s plan to raise corporate tax rates, I now regret referring to his program as “Marxism Lite.”

I fell for his strident rhetoric about taxing big corporations. His proposal amounts to raising the tax on corporate net income in excess of $500,000 by a modest two per cent.

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

Just Posted

Collection of obsolete pesticides, livestock medication Oct. 15 in Vanderhoof

Clean Farms program offers safe way to dispose of obsolete items

Vanderhoof commemorates Orange Shirt Day with beading workshop

Participants can learn a traditional Métis craft at CNC Sept. 26

College of New Caledonia offers new automotive glass technician program

The program is offered mainly online, allowing more students to take part from across the north

Local business wins snow removal award

K. Leigh Precision Earthworks picked up Rookie of the Year from Western Canadian company

Todd Doherty was recognized today for his life-saving actions during a flight home

Todd Doherty, Member of Parliament for Cariboo-Prince George, was recognized today for… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Most Read