Kelowna anti-HST advocate says he’s ecstatic with referendum result
The man who led the campaign to gather signatures that forced the HST-killing referendum is understandably happy with the result.
Dan Thorburn, Fight HST regional organizer for the Central Okanagan, is confident last week’s HST referendum result is a “step in the right direction.”
“It’s been a long fight. This year there was a lot of concern that maybe people had forgotten about the tax or had gotten used to paying the tax or didn’t care about it anymore,” said Thorburn.
“There was nail biting, but today is a huge relief.”
Thorburn said he didn’t like the federal involvement that was associated with HST.
“For me it was never a question of whether or not HST was better than the GST and PST scenario. My issue with the HST is that it was and still is a federally mandated tax.
“That, in effect, makes us dependent on Ottawa and essentially leaves our province with our hand out every year to ask for some money back from the revenue that’s generated from our own province.”
In the binding province-wide mail-in referendum, nearly 55 per cent of the 1.6 million ballots cast called for scrapping the HST.
Despite the result, Thorburn predicted that things won’t get better overnight.
He said that we’re going to go through some turbulent times in the next one or two years during the transition period.
Thorburn said that a huge part of the decision was likely made based on the unsettled feelings of how the HST was initially introduced.
“People don’t like to be lied to and when they are blatantly lied to, it makes them give up on the system.”
In Kelowna-Lake Country, Kelowna-Mission and Westside-Kelowna, the majority of voters opted to keep the tax.
According to Thorburn, this was due to an abundance of small businesses.
“There’s more money in Kelowna. The people that were benefiting the most from the HST were the small businesses.
“The HST benefited some industry, but it didn’t benefit enough industry.”
Thorburn said that getting rid of the HST will be for the greater good of the whole province.
“HST is not a Kelowna tax, it’s a B.C. tax, so we have to work as a team. When you’re working as a team, some people have to take concessions so that the rest of the team can prosper.”