Anti-HST protestors picket premier's office
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell's Vancouver office was picketed on Saturday by angry protestors calling for a quick end to the widely-despised HST, and were joined by an unlikely ally.
Don Paulsen, a conservative free enterprise businessman, says that six months ago he would have bet against the possibility he'd ever be seen carrying a protest sign.
"One in a million," he said. "I couldn't have imagined myself being in a protest movement like this."
But there he was, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Vancouver's west side, picketing with about 40 other anti-HST activists outside the office of the premier he voted for in the last election.
Paulsen says he became disenchanted with the BC Liberals when the HST was announced. "I wanted my vote back," he said. "I didn't vote for that."
The public will get a chance to have their say on the HST in a referendum next September – though the premier expects they'll warm up to the tax considerably before then.
Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen say the tax will make B.C. industries more competitive and herald long-term benefits, including job creation.
"I believe British Columbians will see the benefits of the HST," Campbell told reporters last month. "I think they will vote not to eliminate the HST, but if that's what they decide to do, that's what we'll do as a government."
But anti-HST strategist Bill Tieleman says they there's no point in waiting. "People are very angry they are going to have to pay the HST for an entire year and then they are going to vote to get rid of it anyway," he said.
He's also confident that time will not heal the perceived wounds caused by the controversial tax, and that there will be plenty of outrage left whenever the referendum is held. "It can be six months from now, it can be two years from now. We can defeat it for sure."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen