Opinion

HST referendum a waiting game

With the deadline Friday (Aug. 5) for HST referendum ballots to be received by Elections B.C., anticipation is building for the result.

It’s almost like betting on a horse race then waiting for the race to be run. Except that there will be no big winners and few big losers after the votes are tallied.

Much time and resources have been spent promoting the benefits (vote ‘no’) and downfalls (vote ‘yes’) of the harmonized sales tax.

To the government’s credit, it has done a good job spelling out the scenarios for taxpayers, both of keeping the HST and alternately, going back to the PST-GST combination. The Fight HST camp, on the other hand, has done virtually nothing to acknowledge any positive aspects of the now year-old sales tax system.

To us, that one-sided vision has done the public a disservice and has only contributed to the confusion over the real differences between the two taxing strategies.

Where the Liberals have been attempting to simplify the debate, Bill Vander Zalm and company have been doing their best to muddy the facts and appeal more to people’s hearts than their heads.

Where that leaves voters who haven’t yet mailed or dropped off their HST referendum ballot is, largely, in the dark and, in many cases, likely to avoid voting altogether. And that is unfortunate given that this vote will directly impact every resident in the province daily.

Unlike elections, in which voters support a candidate or party on their merits, or back the party they expect to form government, a referendum is simple — nothing else need be considered before casting one’s ballot.

Which way will the referendum go? It seems those convinced the HST is a bad idea are sure it’ll be defeated. HST supporters tend to be a lot more uncertain of the result, yet hopeful.

Regardless, no one need fear backing the wrong horse. The sun will still come up, government will continue to operate and those prone to doing so will eventually find something else to complain about.

- Victoria News

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