HST phone forums now underway

The B.C. government’s outreach on the harmonized sales tax got underway Wednesday evening with telephone town hall meetings for Surrey and the Peace River region, the first of a series of regional forums that aims to ring every listed home phone in B.C.

  • Apr. 29, 2011 8:00 p.m.

The B.C. government’s outreach on the harmonized sales tax got underway Wednesday evening with telephone town hall meetings for Surrey and the Peace River region, the first of a series of regional forums that aims to ring every listed home phone in B.C.

A phone forum is planned for the Okanagan on May 9.

The first forum was originally set for Tuesday evening in the southern coast and northern Vancouver Island areas, but was postponed because of the Vancouver Canucks playoff game. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, who will take questions at some of the forums, said further schedule changes may be made to avoid calling people on future Canucks game nights.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom is sharing the town hall duties with Falcon. Lekstrom was in the hotseat Wednesday in the Peace River region, his home base.

Lekstrom has been given a high profile in the government’s HST effort since returning to the B.C. Liberal caucus after quitting last year due to his constituents’ protests over the introduction of the HST. He said Wednesday he expects to hear questions about the workings of the HST, and also some of the objections that have battered the B.C. Liberal government since the tax was introduced.

But after people have lived with the HST for nearly 10 months, Lekstrom said he is more optimistic it will be supported in a mail-in referendum set to begin in mid-June. He credits new Premier Christy Clark’s effort to give the public a say.

“The willingness to go out and engage the public in these telephone town hall meetings, the opportunity to have their views heard, is exactly what should have happened 18 months ago,” Lekstrom said.

Subject to change as the Vancouver Canucks playoff run continues, the schedule is as follows:

Kootenay, April 28, 6:30 p.m. (7:30 Mountain time)

Richmond-South Delta and North Shore, April 28, 7:15 p.m.

Southern Interior, May 3, 6:45 p.m.

Victoria, May 3, 7:15 p.m.

Northern Interior and North Coast, May 4, 6:45 p.m.

Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster, Coquitlam, May 4, 7:15 p.m.

Okanagan, May 9, 6:45 p.m.

Fraser Valley, May 9, 7:15 p.m.

Vancouver, May 12, 6:45 p.m.

(Calls for May 3, 4, 9 and 12 may be moved due to Canucks games.)

 

Kelowna Capital News