Anti-HST campaign hopes for gov't funds in referendum
With B.C.'s new cabinet in place, both sides in the harmonized sales tax controversy are gearing up for battle in a June referendum, and both sides could receive funding from the government.
The referendum is now set for June 24, and Fight HST campaigner Bill Tieleman says his troops from the anti-HST petition are ready to jump into action again.
"We had good canvassers, we had good organizers. Those folks are still in place and we hope most of them are available to run on this campaign," he told CTV News.
In a strange twist, Fight HST's latest campaign could be paid for by the B.C. government.
"Premier Clark committed to giving both sides funding, and the model is clearly the single transferrable vote referendum in 2009," Tieleman said.
In that case, the "yes" and "no" sides each received $500,000 from the province.
Tieleman said that Fight HST will be applying to be registered to receive funds as the proponent in the June referendum.
Newly minted Finance Minister Kevin Falcon wouldn't confirm the funding structure Tuesday.
"I won't make any commitment on that, good or bad, right now. It's part of a discussion we'll have," he said.
Angus Reid Public Opinion pollster Mario Canseco said that how the government deals with funding for the referendum could affect its public image.
"It will be interesting to see how the government tries to deal with this. This message of change and fairness also has to come in the way that they handle the opposition, which in this case is not the NDP, it's the anti-HST crowd," Canseco said.
Before Christy Clark announced her new cabinet on Monday, Falcon has said he wasn't interested in the finance post, which comes with the unofficial duty of top HST pitchman.
"Christy's very persuasive, and I received a lot of phone calls from my friends in the business community making threats on my life, so ultimately I think the combination of the two did it," he said, explaining his change of heart.
That hesitance has his opponents licking their lips.
"He's the reluctant salesperson for the HST. That's the kind of guy you want to take on," Tieleman said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson