Yesterday BC FinMin Colin Hansen posted this incredible excuse on Facebook for why the Liberals said one thing during the election "and something else now":
The Ontario decision to go to the HST was announced as part of the Ontario budget on March 26th. So why did the BC government not pick up on it until late May as Hansen says?
... the party was asked about the HST. The answer was that the party's platform, while aware of the benefits the HST offered, did not contemplate the adoption of the HST in BC.That was an honest statement and, while I did not write it, I will defend the fact that it was totally accurate.After the election, I was able to "re-engage" with Finance Ministry staff. At that time, it became obvious that some key issues had changed dramatically (including, in this context, the HST world).
... What changed everything for us was the announcement by Ontario that they would sign on to the HST system effective July 1, 2010.
"On March 26, when the Ontario budget came down, to be honest I didn't pay a lot of attention to it." [For two months through the May 12th election and beyond!?]That’s hardly believable but if true it reflects extremely poorly on his abilities. But whatever the truth of that statement, surely Hansen’s staff fully understood the implications - and surely they briefed him. The Feds have been pushing the HST since Chrétien said he’s kill the GST. So the BC government has known for decades all of the implications of HST and would have known almost instantly what it meant for BC if Ontario were to adopt the tax.
He also claims he didn’t know the rules have changed allowing BC flexibility to set a 12% tax rate instead of 13% as for the Atlantic provinces. Also not believable.
From the story in today’s Victoria Times Colonist:
As today’s TC editorial sums it up:
NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston said Hansen's claim that he missed Ontario's switch to HST defies belief. More likely, Ralston said, Hansen has fabricated the story to cover up the fact that the Liberals hid their tax plans during the election campaign. "It's pathetic that he's trying to resort to this tortured explanation when it's just clearly not true," Ralston said.
He said that Hansen would have been briefed on the Ontario budget and his office would have been anticipating the HST announcement for months.
As early as January, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty told Canadian Press the province would take a "long, hard look" at adopting the HST.
Later that same month, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty indicated the federal government was willing to show more flexibility in its HST negotiations with the provinces.
"The reality is they knew about it before the election," Ralston said. "They had a serious discussion about it, they planned to implement it, but they didn't want to talk about it in the election campaign, because they knew it would damage their election chances."
The political choices in BC are abysmal: Lieberal, NDP, Green and Marijuana. That last one is looking better all the time.
... It defies belief to believe the tax went from nowhere to announcement in less than 10 weeks.
... Campbell promised years ago that he would run an open, honest government. The HST is just the latest announcement to make a mockery of that promise.