Postal lockout overcome for ballot mailout

Locked out postal workers in Kelowna were on the picket lines Wednesday to protest the labour action taken by Canada Post.   - Sean Connor/Capital News
Locked out postal workers in Kelowna were on the picket lines Wednesday to protest the labour action taken by Canada Post.
— image credit: Sean Connor/Capital News

The federal government’ announcement that it plans to introduce back-to-work legislation to end the current Canada Post labour dispute means your ballot for the HST referendum should be in your mailbox next week.

HST referendum ballots were to be mailed out this week but when Canada Post locked out unionized employees following a series of rotating one-day strikes across the country, the ballots were caught up in the dispute.

On Wednesday, federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt announced the government was serving 48-hour notice that the legislation was coming. That notice expires today.

Because Parliament does not sit on Fridays, the legislation is not expected to be debated until Monday.

The HST ballots are to be returned, by mail, by July 22. If the Canada Post strike dragged on, Elections B.C. had the ability to extend the dates but now it appears it will not have to do so.

British Columbians will be asked in the binding referendum if they want to scrap the controversial 12 per cent Harmonized Sales Tax and return to the old Provincial Sales Tax and GST combination. Saying yes to the referendum question will mean scraping the HST and saying no will mean keeping it.

Some feel that confusion may result in some voters expressing the opposite opinion of what they would like to see happen because of how the question is worded.

But Elections Canada has no plan to change the wording.

Recent opinion polls have put opposition to the HST at 56 per cent, down from the 82 per cent who opposed it shortly after it was introduced last year.

The provincial government, after Premier Christy Clark said she opposed lowering HST, has vowed to do just that in two phases over the next three years if British Columbians vote to keep the HST and re-elect it in the next B.C. election.

That election has to take place by May 2013. But it could be called sooner by Clark.

The Liberals say they will lower the HST to 11 per cent next year and to 10 per cent in 2014 and give out one-time HST rebate cheques in between.

But HST opponents, including the Opposition NDP, point to Clark’s words after she won the leadership of the B.C. Liberal Party and became premier.

“We aren’t going to be talking about trying to reduce (the HST) by a point or two before the referendum. I mean, I think people will see that as buying them with their own money,” said Clark at the time.



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