Victoria, B.C. - Former Premier Bill Vander Zalm has officially been given his chance to kill the harmonized sales tax.
The province’s Chief Electoral Officer, Harry Neufeld, has granted approval for Vander Zalm’s initiative petition application.
That means as of April 6, Vander Zalm will be on the clock and will have 90 days from then to garner enough support from around the province to kill the 12 per cent tax due to be implemented July 1.
The tax will combine the seven per cent provincial sales tax with the five per cent federal goods and services tax.
Vander Zalm will have to canvass and collect the signatures of at least 10 per cent of the registered voters — who were registered to vote on the date the petition was issued — in each of B.C.’s 85 electoral districts.
The Bill proposed by Vander Zalm would rip up the agreement between the federal government and B.C. to establish the HST and reinstate the PST with the same exemptions as were in effect as of June 30, 2010.
The Bill also proposes that the provincial share of HST revenues received between June 30 and the date of Royal Assent of the Bill that exceeds what would normally be collected under the PST would be reimbursed to residents on a per capita basis.
If the petition garners enough support, the Chief Electoral Officer must send a copy of the verified petition and draft Bill to a Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives.
That committee must meet within 30 days of receipt of the petition and draft Bill. From that point the committee has 90 days to consider the legislative proposal and either table a report recommending introduction of the draft Bill, or refer the initiative to the Chief Electoral Officer for an initiative vote.
Initiative votes are scheduled every three years. If required, the next initiative vote will be on Sept. 24, 2011.
For an initiative vote to be successful, the majority of registered voters in the province must vote in favour of the initiative and more than 50 per cent of registered voters in at least two-thirds of the electoral districts in the province must vote in favour of the initiative.
If successful, government must introduce the initiative Bill at the earliest practical opportunity.
Individuals and organizations can oppose the initiative by a variety of means including taking out advertising campaigns, but they must also be registered with Elections B.C.
The deadline to apply for registration as an initiative opponent is March 8.
This is the seventh initiative petition application to be approved since the legislation came into force in 1995.
All six previous attempts failed — three failed to garner enough signatures, one was withdrawn and two were never submitted.