B.C. government launches HST ad campaign

VICTORIA – Stick figures puzzled about the harmonized sales tax are the main characters in a $5 million ad campaign unveiled by Finance Minister Kevin Falcon Thursday.

The television, radio, print and online ads begin appearing in mid-May and continue until early July, when ballots are mailed out to every household in the province in a referendum to decide the fate of the HST.

The ads don’t present arguments for or against the HST, but urge people to go to the government’s dedicated website and look at its information about what is and isn’t affected by harmonizing the federal and provincial sales taxes.

Falcon said his travels around the province and participation in telephone town hall sessions on the HST have repeatedly shown that many people misunderstand the effect of the HST, and they want impartial information about it.

“This is not going to be a persuasion campaign,” Falcon said. “It is going to be an information campaign, and it is going to ensure that British Columbians get basic facts.”

NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston said the government is stacking the deck in favour of the HST with its spending. In addition to the $5 million ad campaign, it has spent $200,000 to stage the telephone town halls, while the FightHST organization is receiving only $250,000 to publicize its argument for getting rid of the HST.

In the legislature Thursday, NDP critics demanded assurances from Falcon that the government will go back to the old provincial sales tax with the same exemptions that existed before harmonization with the federal goods and services tax on July 2010. Those exemptions included bicycles, energy-efficient appliances and new homes, as well as a hybrid vehicles.

Falcon has refused to comment on possible changes to the PST, if more than 50 per cent of voters say they want the HST eliminated, until after the referendum results are known.

Falcon and Premier Christy Clark have also indicated they will offer changes to the HST based on public input gathered in the lead-up to the referendum.

Just Posted

Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson set to hit Rock the Shores stage

Other acts include Bahamas, Allen Stone and Bedouin Soundclash

Croatia loses in World Cup final, Victoria fans still jubilant

“We’re just a small little country, we only have 4.5 million people, and look how far we’ve come.”

Park ambassador pilot going well at Mount Doug

Dog poop bags, litter and cigarette butts among ongoing park issues

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Victoria Police issue a public warning after a man was injured by a hidden syringe

Used syringes in discrete locations have caused injuries over the past year in Greater Victoria

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

5 things to do this weekend around Victoria

The sounds of summer Rock the Shores returns to the lower fields… Continue reading

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

LOCAL FLAVOUR: South Island expecting a bumper berry crop

It’s berry time in Saanich. My raspberries are getting plump and ripe… Continue reading

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Most Read