Ogilvie explains Jumbo vote August 18, 2009Posted by admin in : Bill Bennett , comments closed
Kimberley Mayor Jim Ogilvie was one of the RDEK directors who voted yes to the motion to ask the province to designate Jumbo a resort municipality. Reaction to the controversial decision, both pro and con, has been fast and furious.
Ogilvie, who voted no on a similar resolution three years ago, explained the thought process that led him to changing the vote this time. “I’m looking at it from a point of view of fairness and jobs,” Ogilvie said. “The proponent has been in this process for a long, long time. 18 years. “He’s been told all along to do certain studies, which he’s done. The project has been endorsed by four different premiers.
“It has gone through just about every review imaginable, and a very strenuous environmental assessment. All of this work was handled through the province. The province has had control of this project.” Ogilvie also said that the jobs created cannot be discounted. “Our local economy was at one time resource based, but given the present state of the forest industry and construction industry, this is a good opportunity to put people back to work. We have to have taxes to pay for schools and highways.
“We are talking about a major international resort. We have to look at it as making the airport project viable.” Ogilvie also believes that rather than hurting Kimberley’s ski hill by pulling people away, Jumbo will help it. “If more people travel through our airport to go to the Jumbo resort then we have a better chance of latching on to them. Certainly a better chance than if they come in from the north and drive right past three or four other ski hills. “Plus Jumbo will be a different demographic than Kimberley Alpine Resort.”
Ogilvie also says that people have to remember that Jumbo is not a pristine wilderness area. “There are people in that area all the time. And the grizzly bear argument, well St. Mary’s Alpine, the south country, Elk Valley and White Swan, those are where the major grizzly populations are, not at the Jumbo glacier.”
Anti-HST voices off-key August 17, 2009Posted by admin in : Bill Bennett , comments closed
The opposition overture to Gordon Campbell’s Harmonized Sales Tax can be best described as discordant.
In spite of being out of tune – and equally out of touch – the usual bleaters have the volume fully cranked. In order of appearance, the NDP, in full uninformed voice, is literally drooling at the hope of seeing the HST do in Gordon Campbell’s Liberals the way the GST did in Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives.
Next in line the pundits, particularly those who flog fact-free opinion pieces as real reporting. They’re having a heyday predicting economic disaster and an absolute rout of the Liberals in the next provincial election.
On the other side and singing in tune with the harmonized tax, the Business Council of British Columbia, the CD Howe Institute, the B.C. Progress Board and the B.C. Forest industry. If you’re betting on the long-term HST review, go with the experts. The NDP and the Chicken-Little sky-is-falling press have been wrong too many times to be convincing.
On the HST, the Business Council says, “For anyone keen to see a more productive and globally competitive BC economy, this is welcome news.”
Analysts Ben Dachis and Alexandre Laurin of the CD Howe Institute say, “British Columbia has taken a step towards greater prosperity for its citizens with plans to harmonize its seven-per-cent PST with the federal goods and services tax.” The CD Howe analysts go on to say, “PST is an antiquated tax in today’s world of complex supply chains.”
So why the uproar? Like any new tax, the HST is seen as a grab. By way of a quick trip down memory lane, look at our experience with the GST. In spite of the fact that it replaced a 13.5 per-cent manufacturer’s sales tax, the seven-per-cent GST was seen as government-on-the-take when it was introduced in 1991. GST was a good idea with bad optics. The manufacturers sales tax was hidden and embedded in the product price, the GST was not. Consumers seem more adverse to tax transparency than to the actual amount they pay.
HST is not a tax grab, rather it’s a tax shift and on balance a beneficial one at that. Currently, BC businesses pay provincial sales tax on purchases made to operate their business. The Business Council says PST represents additional costs of $2 billion annually. Adoption of the HST would eliminate those PST charges as the province harmonized with the GST rebate base.
Andrew Sharpe, an analyst consulting to the BC Progress Board said, “Harmonizing the PST with the federal GST would do more to stimulate investment in the province than the complete abolition of the corporate income tax.”
All of the above is a snapshot of the business case to be made in favour of a harmonized sales tax. I could fill this page if I used the press release material from the various business-interest groups in support of the HST.
As well, CNC economics instructor Al Idiens offered an upbeat and accurate explanation of the change to HST in a July 27 Citizen story.
So where are the politicians, and in particular Premier Campbell in the HST debate? To date we’ve seen a Pat Bell comment and finance minister Colin Hansen has responded on a few occasions to the press.
On the other side, NDP supporter and political consultant Bill Tieleman has put a NO BC HST Facebook group in place and gathered 50,000 signatures. I’ve worked with Tielemen – on a different issue – and he’s good. The NDP have a petition out and at as of last week had 17,000 signatures opposing the HST.
Yet Gordon Campbell seems to be missing in action, in spite of the fact that his constituency, the B.C. business community, is largely on side with the tax transition to an HST. If HST is such a positive economic step, and all the evidence says it is, then why is he avoiding the issue?
He’s ducking the HST debate because there’s nothing in the fight for him. In all likelihood, Campbell will not be around for the next provincial election in 2013. Plus, once the harmonization tax package with Ottawa is signed, the HST omelette will be impossible to unscramble.
A year from now, HST will be in place. Two years from now, no one will remember the summer of our HST discontent and in the election of 2013, with two new provincial leaders in place it will be all but forgotten.
Still, if Gordon Campbell is so in favour of his harmonization plan, and it is a change whose time has come, it would be nice to see him join the choir.
Bruce Strachan is a former B.C. cabinet minister and Prince George city councillor. His column appears Thursdays. E-mail: email@example.com