‘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.

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

A Hyundai Tucson caught fire around 11 a.m. Tuesday at 17th and Willemar. The occupants were not hurt. Scott Stanfield photo
Car catches fire in Courtenay

The occupants of a Hyundai Tucson were not injured when their car… Continue reading

A mother duck leads her brood of ducklings past some benches in the courtyard at Mark R Isfeld School in Courtenay. Photo by Kailena Krutzmann
Ducklings bring joy to students at Courtenay school

Brood of duckings in the courtyard at Mark R Isfeld School

The current location of Comox Valley Search and Rescue on Moray Avenue in Courtenay. Google Maps photo
Comox Valley Search and Rescue aiming to purchase a roof for their rescuers

Their goal is to raise between $1.2 and $1.5 million, approximately the purchase price of a facility

A bear is seen walking down Alderwood Place in east Courtenay Sunday (May 9) morning. Video screenshot/Kristie Cave
Video: Bears spotted throughout Comox Valley

Hide food sources, keep garbage away: conservation

Carter Woods was first across the line at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Saturday in Altstadt, Germany. File photo
Cumberland mountain biker wins World Cup race in Germany

Carter Woods of Cumberland won a World Cup mountain bike race Saturday… Continue reading

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

The majority of city council votes in favour of this design for a new Salmon Arm flag on Monday, May 10, 2021. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Majority of council salutes new flag for Salmon Arm

Two councillors raise concerns about logo being too corporate for a flag

(Pixabay)
B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

College says doctors have a higher level of responsibility to not spread incorrect information

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives his COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination in Ottawa, Friday, April 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
75% of Canadians need 1st vaccine dose to have more normal summer: Trudeau

The country is on track to hit a major milestone on the road to COVID-19 herd immunity Tuesday, with 40% vaccinated with a 1st dose

A black bear, dubbed Huckleberry by Deep Cove, B.C., residents died on July 31, 2020, after becoming conditioned to food and humans. (North Shore Black Bear Society photo)
Fewer dead bears, more fines: Advocates call for B.C. conservation officer reform

B.C. Bear Alliance wants to see body cameras on conservation officers after more than 600 black bears were killed this past year

Condemned building of the Twin Gables Motel in Crofton is not safe and yet a teen has been climbing around on the roof while others were ripping the siding off the building. (Photo submitted)
Destructive behaviour by teens wreaking havoc on Island community

Crofton residents becoming fed up with the constant vandalism and fires

Most Read