CTV News - HST opponents calling for public inquiry
Date: Saturday Aug. 6, 2011 6:35 PM PT
Opponents of the HST are calling for a public inquiry after voting closed in B.C. Friday, amid fears that hundreds of voters never received their ballots. ...
Oh come on... it only gets worse. =.="
Firstly, there was the overly complicated and long question from the FightHST group. And now this...
This only shows how desperate, paranoid, and fearful the FightHST people are of our own democratic process... like if we were trapped in some authoritarian government where some supposed "dictators" named Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark had come in and fixed and/or influenced the result already for the continuation of the HST. Fact of the matter is, other than some clarification on what may happen after the referendum, both have done very little campaigning whatsoever on the tax and have not interfered in the operation or electoral process of Elections BC (which by the way is a non-partisan branch of the legislature).
Unless the result is really close, and we don't even know yet for crying out loud
, this is only a ploy for the FightHST group to draw out the fight and therefore force their opinion onto the rest of British Columbians whether they dislike the HST or not. And that's not democratic at all. That's bullying of all things.
Perhaps I should launch a counter complaint saying that the multitude of media reports that were biased towards the FightHST group has distorted the referendum to such an extent that it is no longer free and fair for the pro-HST groups, and also that the distortion and harsh rhetoric from FightHST may have forced people to vote Yes because of possible social and physical retaliation from their peers and the general public. But meh... I don't feel safe doing that anymore when a topic like taxes can turn out to be so explosive and divisive.
And on a side note, Waders, you're thinking the same way that I'm thinking... just too many people using their emotions. In fact I wrote a lengthy Facebook post on the danger of referendums on the democratic process, which I'll post here:
Referendums: An inefficient way to govern British Columbia. = (
by Allan Kuan on Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 2:46pm
I strongly do not support the general principle of a tax revolt through the use of a referendum. Most governments are generally competent in running the province and the municipalities without public interference; if they are found to be incompetent, or implement policies which are really damaging, they can either be prosecuted after the fact or be voted out of office. In fact, since my opposition to referendums is so strong, I feel that the next provincial government should repeal the option for both binding and voluntary referendums on finance alone and binding referendums on all other matters.
Legislation passed by the government is not as simple as a few lines or sentences put together. Generally a lot of thought and debate has to be put into what effects it may have long after it is implemented. Say for example you cut the HST to 10%. A lot of people will jump on that as being more money for their pocket, but will probably miss the corresponding decrease in revenue that helps to finance public services and infrastructure projects. Or another example… says every person who is suspected of a crime must be sent to jail for at least a week. People might think of it as being a good policy at crime reduction; however, there’s no way the prison or jail service can handle the huge influx of short-term prisoner stays that would occur as a result of the passage of this law – or at least not without building new prisons at a significant monetary price. In addition the law in its most basic form doesn’t consider the fact that people may be innocent and therefore do not deserve the automatic sentence at all.
A referendum, on the other hand, bypasses the requirement for the government to properly research the proposal and instead imposes the same requirement on the citizens of the province. It may sound like a good idea to put the most controversial decisions out to a vote, but from the HST experience I find that the majority of people probably didn’t do proper background research; instead, they just relied on things that they can easily see, like the media, lawn signs, hand-out pamphlets, advertisements, etc. – and none of these things, if any, will give the full facts on the current situation and the impacts of the measure being proposed. The result is a decision that can easily be skewed to one side or another by the media and “special interest groups” like FightHST, the BC NDP, and the BC Coservative Party on the one hand, and the BC Liberals and the Smart Tax Alliance on the other.
In particular, giving people the power to handle tax rates may cause individuals to feel selfish and greedy and make them think solely of keeping more money to themselves. As a result, they may slash tax rates without thinking of their impacts on public services or necessary public infrastructure projects.
Let’s consider the case of California. A tax revolt occurred in that state in 1978 when people voted yes to a referendum initiative to limit property taxes to 1% and to cap increases in assessed property value to 2%. The reasoning back then was ostensibly to allow seniors to stay in their homes without being priced out and to slow down government expenses, but it was also supported by the wealthy because they didn’t want their tax dollars to go to poorer communities. The initiative also put in the need for substantial super-majorities for tax increases to be approved by the government. Although property tax rates are now low and stable for most Californians, they have to grapple with the fact that the state government continues to face problems trying to raise revenues. Most state budgets passed after this initiative have been approved late, and often after months of acrimonious debate. Sales taxes increases have been imposed by local governments to raise revenues lost by property taxes while at the same time schools, hospitals, universities, services for the elderly, libraries have all been hit at the chopping block by recent deficits and their resulting austerity budgets.
My fear is that the threat of referendums and outcry from the public over any proposal deemed controversial may cause governments to lose ambition and determination to carry out their policies regardless of current public opinions. Again, it seems benign to most; after all, government desires to bring the “bad” HST along was thwarted by monumental public opposition and they had to back down and offer a better deal. However, without any sort of ambition or determination, the politicians that are supposed to work for us to improve our lives will cease to become visionaries that plan out projects, programs, and supporting finances for the greater good while letting public opinions warm up to their achievements; instead, they’ll become essentially flip-floppers that will bend at any moment and cave in to all sorts of both legitimate and outrageously ridiculous demands of the present day.
In fact, this is already happening; Christy Clark almost couldn’t decide lately whether she wanted the Evergreen Line, Expo SkyTrain station upgrades, and Surrey Rapid Transit and the corresponding gas tax increase to pay for it due to public opposition to only the latter. Worse, some local politicians still want a referendum on the issue because the improvements are not in their city! I can only imagine what regional infighting will happen next if and when the expensive but necessary Broadway-UBC and Surrey Rapid Transit proposals get introduced.
If this trend of invoking a popular vote for every controversial issue continues, progress and governance in British Columbia will be severely impaired and grind to a halt. Governments will be forced to water things down for the public, avoid even necessary reforms, or otherwise have to endure time-consuming and expensive referendums that will almost certainly involve misinformation from special interest groups. This is not the good democratic governance that would work well for a growing province like British Columbia.