Why I voted to extinguish the HST

For those of you not in BC (or living under a rock), some background:

Recently, shortly after a provincial election, the incumbent BC Liberal party passed a tax called the HST, which restructured sales tax in my province. The net result was an extra 7% on a number of goods and services, with a decrease in hidden taxes elsewhere.

During the BC Liberal party’s campaign, a few months earlier, this plan was not mentioned. When critics of the HST questioned why it was not discussed during the election, the party denied having any plans they’d do this before the election. When evidence came to light that they did indeed have plans to implement the HST before the election, the Premier’s popularity fell to 9%, and he shortly thereafter resigned.

A petition was launched to collect signatures to force a referendum on the HST, and it was successful. So now we’re all given an opportunity to vote: “Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and reinstating the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) in conjunction with the GST (Goods and Services Tax)?”.

There are a lot of compelling arguments for the HST. It’s simpler, it’s meant to help businesses create jobs, and as a consumption tax it’s harder to evade.

And I feel all the pros and cons of the HST are irrelevant.

What’s relevant is that our government attempted to implement taxation without representation. That’s something that’s inspired revolutions in other countries.

It bothers me that most of the debate I’ve heard about the HST was been on its merit as a tax, and not about how it was legislated. I voted to extinguish it because I don’t want governments thinking that they can implement tax like that again. It’s just not cool.

If you’ll pardon the analogy, let’s say, for example, you were to put a bag over my head and throw me in an airplane, only to dump me out on a warm, sunny Mexican beach. I wouldn’t consider whether or not it was a nice beach. I’d just try to undo what you had done and get myself home, to pursue whatever legal means I had of rectifying the situation later.

And that’s what I did with my “Yes” ballot today, as much as I could anyway.