So the referendum is technically on for the BC HST; however, with the postal strike, it’s hard to know when I’ll actually get my ballot. Nevertheless, when my ballot does come, I will be voting yes to extinguish the HST.
Of course, it’s not a simple issue. The HST is a simpler tax for businesses and requires only one set of paperwork to fill out. I normally wouldn’t care about arguments from business (since they tend to be trite and only further the privileged), but I can imagine that this extra bureaucracy negatively affects the small, local business owner more so than the (multi)national corporation who just pockets a bit more at the end of the year.
I also support a consumption tax from an environmental point of view as a means to curtail excess and reduce waste. Of course, this is made null by Premier Clark’s promise to eventually lower the HST to 10%, hence the 12% PST+GST option is a better deterrent. Further, the PST option retains the ability to target specifically bad (or good) items with extra taxes or exemptions. This was the case with the luxury car tax and restaurant exemptions under the old scheme. Ideally the federal government would agree to pass legislation for anything we wanted exempted provincially, but perhaps I’m just cynical.
Selfishly, I also like that as a poor student I get a larger HST rebate than under the old system.
Then there’s the “stick-it-to-the-man” argument, which is fairly irrational, but is an effective way to demonstrate that decisions cannot be made by executive fiat as Gordon Campbell did. One could argue that the successful petition drive, Campbell’s resignation, and Clark’s long-term promise to reduce the tax demonstrated that the government heard and cares what the people said; however, by voting in favour now, it somewhat forgives and forgets the original misgiving. I’m not convinced that the government has actually listened, and recent actions seem to suggest more unilateral action. This referendum represents a chance to actually reverse government policy.
So in summary, my main reason for choosing the “Yes” side to the exceptionally poorly-worded referendum is that I prefer a higher consumption tax that we, as a province, have greater control over.