‘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

Just Posted

District of Vanderhoof contracts YMCA for aquatic centre

Announcement brings mixed reaction from community

Community and collaboration drive Binche Fishing Derby

Family time, forward thinking and positive initiatives to be highlighted

Nechako Valley Exhibition holding regional talent competition

Solo vocalists and instrumentalists wanted

Audit finds Canfor did not comply with bridge maintenance legislation

Per a news release issued by the Forest Practices board, an independent… Continue reading

Variety BC’s annual Radiothon returns to Vanderhoof

Variety BC is incredibly happy to announce that this year’s Prince George-Vanderhoof… Continue reading

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

Port of Prince Rupert names Shaun Stevenson as new CEO

Stevenson has worked for the port for 21 years as vice president of trade development

Senate officially passes Canada’s marijuana legalization bill

Bill C-45 now moves to royal assent, which is the final step in the legislative process

Fake attempted abduction not funny to B.C. neighbourhood residents

Two teenage boys won’t face criminal charges after scaring girl

Mosquitoes out in full force already? Blame the weather

But a B.C. mosquito expert says the heat wave will help keep the pests at bay

Man pleads not guilty in 1987 slayings of B.C. couple

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court

New GOP plan: Hold kids longer at border – but with parents

Move would ease rules that limit how much time minors can be held with their parents

Without a big data strategy, Canadians at risk of being ‘data cows’

Presentation said artificial intelligence could give Facebook and Amazon even more power

Five B.C. families stuck in Japan as Canada refuses visas for adopted babies

Lawyer points to change in American policy around adoptions from Japan

Most Read