New B.C. leaders prepare to face off

Premier Christy Clark hopes to take her seat in the B.C. legislature by the end of May.

VICTORIA – The B.C. legislature reconvenes on Wednesday for a month-long session that is expected to feature the debut of both NDP leader Adrian Dix and Premier Christy Clark.

Clark must first win a seat in a May 11 by-election in Vancouver-Point Grey, to fill the vacancy left by former premier Gordon Campbell. If she defeats NDP candidate David Eby, she would be able to take her seat on the B.C. Liberal front bench a few days before the spring session ends on June 2.

Clark has hinted at new family-friendly tax measures that could be tabled in the spring session. One of those could be a promised reduction in the rate of the harmonized sales tax, the fate of which will be decided in a mail-in referendum set for June and July.

Finance Minister Keven Falcon has launched a pre-referendum program that includes $500,000 to be split between pro-HST and anti-HST representatives, a household mail-out including arguments from both sides, and a series of public forums held at colleges and universities around B.C.

The government will also run an advertising campaign urging voters to keep the HST, thus avoiding costs in the billions to undo it and retaining sales tax rebates directed to low-income households.

The government plans to start sending out mail-in ballots in mid-June, and completed ballots must be received by Elections BC no later than July 22. It will be August before the results are known, and the government knows whether to keep the HST or negotiate an end to it with the federal government.

The B.C. Liberal government presented a status-quo budget in February, leaving a substantial portion of expected revenue unallocated. That budget must be debated and passed before the government’s spending authority runs out in July.

The government must also pass amendments to set up the mail-in HST referendum. An anti-HST petition organized by former premier Bill Vander Zalm last year calls on the government to either reinstate the former provincial sales tax and provide refunds on millions of transactions, or put the issue to the public in a vote.

Former finance minister Colin Hansen said it wouldn’t be possible to meet the demand in the original petition, and the Clark government has decided to take the vote over and do it by mail.

Just Posted

Number of SD62 kindergarten registrations about same as last year

Approximately 850 kindergarten registrations for 2019/2020 school year

Missing: 12-year-old girl last seen in area of Shelbourne and Hillside

Victoria police ask for public help in locating girl

VicPD faces ‘significant pressure’ following Victoria’s 2019 budget decision

Chief Const. Del Manak says council continues to micromanage his department

Work set to begin on removing Sooke’s derelict boats from waterways

Seven boats earmarked to be removed this spring

B.C. researcher says device mimics parent’s touch to help babies cope with pain

Calmer device is a rectangular platform that replaces a mattress inside an incubator

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

Most Read