Will HST outrage last until the referendum?
Between the $30 million price tag for B.C.'s pending HST referendum and the $1.6-billion the province may have to return to the federal government if it's repealed, some are questioning where they stand on the controversial tax.
Passionate anti-HST campaigners were out in full force on Saturday in front of Finance Minister Colin Hansen's Vancouver office to picket the much-maligned tax – but others say they are losing their enthusiasm.
"The more I read about it, I actually don't mind it," Ryan Tang, who signed a petition against the tax earlier this year, told CTV News. "I've changed my mind, definitely."
Tang says reading ongoing coverage of the tax has caused him to leave the anti-HST movement behind. "It was kind of a heat wave that swept through the city and then everyone just got on board."
CTV viewers have also emailed in concerns about the tax, asking whether it is "too late to take our names off the petition?"
"I signed it without knowing all the consequences and expense to this province," another viewer wrote.
But Fight HST group organizer Eddie Petrossian says there's plenty of outrage left to fuel critics. "You can see people are upset with what is happening in the province," he said.
Petrossian is calling on Premier Gordon Campbell to take the tax straight to the B.C. legislature to avoid a long wait for a costly referendum. "People want to go on with their life, we don't want to spend $30-million and wait a year to decide on this HST issue."
Economists also argue that the province may not have to return the entire $1.6-billion to the federal government if citizens do reject the tax.
"That would certainly be subject to negotiation," Helmut Pastrick said.
And letting the issue linger for too long could take its toll, he added. "When you have this kind of uncertainty regarding tax policy, it's typically quite negative for economic activity."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Bal Brach