The Anti-HST Vote Result Spin Campaign Continues

The  spin campaign against the anti-HST vote result in the media fulfills my prediction that even after the tax was rejected, the war would go on.  Sometimes, though, I wish I was wrong … but the corporate message has become so predictable …  anyone can clearly see their agenda.

The Fraser Institute, financed by and persistent voice of  BIG corporations and the rich and powerful and right wing thinkers, was one of the first out of the gate. 

In an almost hilarious piece of work in The Vancouver Sun …although I’m sure they didn’t intend it that way ….. the Institute says the loss of the HST will give BC “one of the highest overall tax rates on investment among the provinces..only PEI will have a higher rate” .

So sounds to me like they’re calling Finance Minster Keven Falcon a liar, when he says BC  is still one of the best, most  competitive places to invest.  

Which is it?  Well, judging by Standard and Poors reaction to the vote result …keeping BC’s Triple “A” tax rating,  I’ll buy Falcon’s version of reality.

What was the Fraser Institute pitch all about?  They made it quite clear in the rest of the article: BC corporations should have their corporate income tax rate “completely” eliminated ..down to ZERO!  Or at least give business a complete sales tax exemption on machinery, equipment and technology.   Or a flat tax on all sources of income, wages, capital gains, business income, interest income, savings and investment returns. 

 In my view, a pathetic formula for the rich to get richer and the middle class and poor to pay for almost everything .

Hilarious!   Except the Sun gave it prominent placement.   And we also know the Fraser Institute does have the ear of the Liberal government.

So it’s scary.  Not that the government would dare to adopt any of those ludicrous recommendations BEFORE an election … but who knows what could happen after … not likely within days anymore …but months later?  

And what I see as the anti-HST spin hasn’t stopped there.

A full five-column headline in Tuesday’s Province declared “HST defeat creates uncertainty”.    The sub headline said renovators could suffer if homeowners wait for the PST to return. 

Certainly the headline sounded like bad news as a result of the rejection of the hated tax.   BUT,  reading the article, it seemed to me the facts did not support that: home builders and renovators could suffer …not from the loss of the tax, which many were HAPPY to see go down, but from the DELAY in getting rid of it.

That’s a very big difference. The headline should have read “HST DELAY creates uncertainty” not the HST DEFEAT,  to more accurately reflect the contents. 

The Sun also had what I felt was a deceptive and misleading headline  on a post HST story…  “Alberta buyers big winners as BC axes HST”.

Sounds bad for BC … BUT the story reported the reason Albertans will benefit is that removal of the HST will make it cheaper for them to buy BC recreational homes.  In fact, it added the HST had been a “disaster” for BC’s recreational property market. Without the tax, BC sellers will find it much easier to sell their properties … and we all know increasing sales means better prices. Sounds pretty good for British Columbians, not just Albertans.

Not a bad news story at all for British Columbians ..but the headline had a much  different spin.

As I predicted, the HST fight is NOT “behind us”: the corporate community and the very rich who benefited BIG TIME from the unfair tax will not go quietly into the dark.  They will use all their access routes to government ministers … direct and indirect … (including the media) to find ways AROUND the public’s decision.

That, of course, is their right.

But those who want business and the wealthy to pay their fair share must remain vigilant …to stop the end run now being attempted.

Harv Oberfeld

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24 Responses to The Anti-HST Vote Result Spin Campaign Continues

  1. Well, many voters in Vancouver-Quilchena are very angry with the result.

    Wealthy and educated ridings are very much in favour of the HST, and feel that anyone who opposed it are stupid and out of touch. One person, whom I know, has said that BC Liberal ridings that voted Yes, are treasonous.

    Many pro-HST supporters are pushing the big business concerns to take the government to court to have the referendum declared null and void, as it didn’t meet the 60% threshold as required by legislation.

    There is one thing that business people hate, and that is being told what to do.

    Those who tend to support big business are absolutely terrified as to what will happen with BC; they also do not want to pay more in taxes, especially income taxes.

  2. RossK says:

    Couldn’t agree more that the Wizards’ curtain looks to be threadbare enough such that those paying attention can see right through it Mr. O….

    However, it appears that something else has also been thrown into the spin-cycle machine that is slightly more opaque.

    And that is the rapidly emerging ‘collective public punishment’ meme.

    My take on that is here.

    And Laila Yuile’s is here.


  3. Norm Farrell says:

    I suggest it is time to name and shame the Fraser Institute’s financial backers. This page lists the board of directors. As consumers, we have opportunities to adjust their spending so that we do not inadvertently subsidize this mean spirited tool of the aristocracies.

    (Response: Thanks. Good info. When I was working, I did not mind doing stories on their reports or views, but always tried to find a counter-point to rebut. I think in publishing this article on post HST, the Sun should have published a counter piint as well. h.o)

  4. SB says:

    I cant wait for what happens when Liberals are out of Victoria and we find out just how much those who like the HST and the government that put it there were making on BCs taxpayers , anyone who gets so desperate is hiding something whats the catch , what do they not want6 us to know ?
    I am not against tax policy that makes sense for all and is brought to us in fair ways , business gets benefits of educated people who use expensive infrastructure to make money and should pay accordingly with the rest of us no free rides not workers not corporations .
    A willingness to see there is enough wealth to share needs to replace the greedy globalization we seem attached to what happens when the rich have all the money and no one wants to play the game anymore ?

  5. Iwannajob says:

    The HST vote would have easily reached the 60% threshold for referendums if the question on the ballot had been worded correctly. And maybe we should be taking a much closer look at our education system if the so-called higher educated elite voted for the HST to remain, apparently arithmetic and common sense are missing in our schools.

  6. Norm Farrell says:

    H.O. wrote “I think in publishing this article on post HST, the Sun should have published a counter piint as well.”

    Exactly, what is it about balanced points of view that worries Postmedia editors? Perhaps, they worry that their own agenda will not stand up to fair scrutiny.

  7. Henri says:

    HST isn’t going to do squat for Toronto its very possible they may have to let go 750 police officers and 400 civilian employees soon. Possibly Ontario could use this as a reason for raiseing the HST in the near future
    The time is drawing very close to where we the BC people will have to organize and start boycotting and or inflict financial disruptions to BC HST pushers this is the only language they will understand. This or chase them out of this province.–toronto-police-may-have-to-lay-off-1-150-people-report

    (Response: One of the big myths being pushed by HST promoters is that Ontario will now get most of BC’s investment. What a crock! BC’s biggest industries are resource related … and more dependent on world economic conditions than the HST. The Chinese and other Pacific countries will take as much of our resources as they can get. And according to our finance minister, BC is still among the most competitive places in North America when to comes to investment/ taxes etc …and he wouldn’t lie, would he? h.o.)

  8. mariner says:

    Seems big business concerns are getting a little anxious that they might end up having to pay their fair share of taxes after all. The not only lose their exemptions, they get to pay MORE !

    How hard it must be for the “pigs at the public trough” – so hard done by ! Are they threateniing to sue the public because the public decided they wanted a fair deal ?? How dare they try to control both the gpvernment and the general public !!

    Seems like the truth is coming out from all the previous BS about “good for the economy”. Sad, they saw lies worked for Campbell and they now think they can do the same ? It will just backfire on them – they will only alienate themselves more with the general public.


  9. Mean Gene says:

    Good show to the voters of BC, sticking it to the poor for your own selfish reasons you should be proud.

    Ernst & Young Tax Alert 2011 Issue No. 31
    30 August 2011

    “Credits for low-income families – The $230/yr. BC HST credit for low-income British Columbians will be eliminated and the $75/yr. BC PST credit will be restored. (The BC HST credit is payable per family member for qualifying low-income families, whereas the BC PST credit is only payable in respect of adult family members.

    For example, a qualifying low-income family of four who is currently receiving $920/yr. will see their sales tax rebate drop to a maximum of $150/yr. — a loss of $770/yr.)”$FILE/TaxAlert2011No31.pdf

  10. Mean Gene says:

    Another quote from the tax alert article, more kudos to citizens of BC.

    “It is widely agreed by economists, tax policy
    experts and tax professionals that reverting back
    to the PST + GST system is a significant step
    backwards for BC.

    It will negatively impact both job creation and economic growth not only in BC, but in the rest of Canada as well.

    It is also widely recognized that going back to
    PST + GST as opposed to keeping the pure HST
    value-added tax system will give pure GST/HST
    provinces like Ontario and Alberta a significant
    competitive tax advantage over BC as a place to
    invest and do business. This is particularly true
    with respect to the film and television and hightech industries.”

    (Response: The film industry is a chronic whiner and blackmailer …not just here either. We want the jobs, of course, but there is something SICK about demanding working families, single parents, seniors pay MORE than their fair share of the burden so multi millionaires and billionaires behind the movie industry can get even richer by not paying their fair share of taxes. BC has a great film work force, great locations and great expertise and the biggest challenge to its future is the Canadian dollar differential, not rhe HST. h.o)

  11. SunWuKong says:

    @Mean Gene

    Ok — I can’t let this pass. Are you trying to demonstrate your copy n’ paste skills or do you have actual experience running a business here?

    As a small business owner in an industry historically exempt from PST, BUT whose customers are the general public — this little tax policy see-saw is a no-win for me.

    The economy is quite shaky (confident political blather to the contrary) and so piling on more taxes at the middle class reduces their ability to pay for my services, i.e., it’s harder to get customers through the door.

    On the other hand, while the HST is, on paper, a “win” for my business, it doesn’t play out so in practice. My industry is in the middle of a tussle with the CRA over zero-rated items and so everybody underreports their GST (now HST) eligible expenses since this fight has pissed off the tax man, i.e., more audits for everyone! In essence, we used to give a 7% interest free loan to the government, but now it’s 12%.

    However, we have spent over $100K in technology improvements. In truth, though, this was driven by the federal government’s accelerated CCA rules for computers plus a clear business case that didn’t take the PST/HST issue into account.

    Price reductions for our customers? Vanishingly unlikely even before the HST was voted out. Margins have been tight these past few years and any extra breathing room will be warmly greeted by the bottom line.

    Finally, expansion in my industry usually occurs by large leaps, i.e., whole new locations. Until these explosions of investment occur, staff levels are pretty constant. While I’m on the lookout for new locations, my cost of investment is *higher* because of the additional HST hit on things like having leasehold improvements done.

    Please stop regurgitating white papers and stick to provide concrete examples.

    (Response: Now that’s what I call keeping it real! h.o)

  12. motorcycleguy says:

    The fall of the HST hasn’t forced any of the private corporations that hold a current (no pun intended) Energy Purchase Agreement from BC Hydro to abandon their application and move to Ontario….in fact, just the opposite. They are even more aggressive in proceeding.

  13. BG says:

    Totally agree about corporate taxes, the Fraser Institute and the Vancouver Sun.

    A member of the Vancouver Sun’s editorial board used to work for the Fraser Institute, maybe that’s why the Sun seems to give the Fraser Institute so much mileage:

    Lowering corporate taxes has not only hurt government finances, it has actually hurt the corporations themselves. Profits have risen too high so corporations have grown lazy and uncompetitive. Too much easy money has removed the incentive for corporations to try harder.

    The government should raise corporate taxes in order to stimulate the economy and help the corporations out of their malaise. Higher corporate taxes will reduce profits and dividends and that will make shareholders unhappy. Unhappy shareholders will pressure corporate managers to innovate, to compete, to invest and ultimately to create jobs.

    The greatest growth in the economy was during the 1950’s and 1960’s when corporate taxes were more than double what they are now. The economy has been declining during the last 5-10 years as corporate tax rates have fallen. Surely this is evidence that shows the deleterious effects of lower corporate taxes on the economy.

    Unfortunately I have no studies from right wing think tanks to back up my assertion that lower corporate taxes are bad for corporations. I suppose if I had enough cash maybe I could pay the Fraser Institute to commission a study to prove it. I think those guys could “prove” anything, given enough funding.

  14. D.G.B. says:

    The “no” people are sure getting shrill now that the average guy will have more to spend, save or donate – even small business is relieved, I believe that the customers will be coming back.

    Ha, I might have a tee shirt made: “Yes, I voted – stupid”

  15. D. M. Johnston says:

    Wow, the PAB trolls are busy on all the blogs, BC in trouble, BC losing investment to Ontario, BC is paupered, etc., etc., and all this from the supposedly neutral HST defeat.

    Let’s face it the corporations and their government lapdogs lost this round, but don’t worry, they will be back with a vengeance,

    Instead of the government controlling costs, etc., the government thinks the taxpayer has endless pockets of money, well some may have, but not me, nor many other people and now a line has been drawn in the sand.

    Government spending is out of control and the term fiscal responsibility is a joke and here is the real reason for the HST, a massive revenue generator to sate government over-spending.

    The HST was a government sponsored ponzi scheme type tax that fleeced the poor, while at the same time giving big corporations (friends of the government) a free ride.

    It’s time to cut government down in size and may I first suggest that PAB. But it will not happen as the government, deeply afraid that this sort of democratic action is a contagion, will deliberately punish the voters to ensure it will never happen again.

  16. Bob says:

    I voted Yes because I refuse to reward deception and fraud, it’s just that simple. My better educated Commerce grad wife voted No citing the merits of the tax. I really don’t care one way or the other. They could re-introduce it tomorrow and I might vote for it but I felt it was important enough to send a message to politicians across the country. The other thing that convinced me to vote Yes was the government’s propaganda campaign bolstered by that of their friends. I don’t like to be talked down to and why would I take the word of proven liars?

  17. RossK says:

    Thanks very much SWK.

    That is the most lucid, perspective-laden, eyes wide open description of the situation that I have read anywhere.

    Thanks again.


  18. Henri says:

    Mean Gene // Sep 1, 2011 at 1:22 am response to comment 9-10
    Way to go Lean Jean recommend the poor take advice from the bean counters who had an influence on implementing this assine tax. What advice would you give the drug addict to quit drugs, consult with their dealer .
    It’s also the bean counters who had influence in the implementation of our useless carbon tax.
    If your bean counters are so concerned about the poor then they should go to Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, likely they would advise the hungry to implement the HST to alleviate their hunger pangs and if they should get wealthy they will show how to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, just like the rich in BC.

  19. Norm Farrell says:

    “In fact, corporate tax dodging has gone so out of control that 25 major U.S. corporations last year paid their chief executives more than they paid Uncle Sam in federal income taxes.”

    Interesting analysis linked at:

  20. Julie says:

    For all this time, the HST has been imposed on the BC citizens….The bull patty, has been abundantly clear.

    Big business has not created thousand of, good paying jobs in BC, as they promised. BC is still losing jobs. Big business has not “trickled” down any of their savings, down to the people. Instead, they have jacked the prices sky high.

    If the HST was so almighty wonderful, why are citizens spending billions, shopping in Alberta, U.S. and on line? Why aren’t they shopping at home? Why have communities started up underground co-ops?

    To many of us, the HST was a scam by, Campbell, Hansen and Harper to take from the people, for the benefit of big business, and Harper. BC as a province of natural resources. The HST does, absolutely nothing for the BC citizens.

    What the HST has done, is drive costs right out into orbit. The HST has a very long arm, and has forced an alarming credit card debt.

    There are no price controls in BC. Gasoline, food costs, hydro, and another hike on the carbon tax, plus the HST? Where are the logistics, to impose these crippling taxes and prices, onto family’s and people, during a deep recession?

    Campbell destroyed thousands of jobs in BC. Sent our mills to China along with our raw logs, to exploit the Chinese, who are only paid pennies a day. BC’s two chain restaurants, have closed many of their doors, the HST killed them. Hundreds of job losses there too.

    Stats Canada, named the provinces that experienced job gains, BC was not one of those provinces. In June, at the start of summer, BC lost 12,000 jobs, while the other western provinces gained jobs.

  21. e.a.f. says:

    I liked the poll which reflected people voted against the HST because they would be better off with out it.
    I think people maybe finally getting it, governments don’t always do what is best for the majority of voters but rather what is best for them and their corporate sponsors.
    I do hope people remember to send Harper the same message next time they vote federally.

    People might want to think about the 13 luxury cars which were seized for street racing. Because they were more than $55 thousand, they didn’t pay HST!

    There is something very wrong in a society when luxury cars are not taxed.
    I would conclude it is the type of society which produces young people who think nothing of driving up to 200 KPH during rush hour and endangering hundreds of people.

    I know its a bit of a strech, going from the HST to street racing with $2M, in cars but; Harvey, do you have any comments regarding this exercise of personal gratification vs. public good?

    (Response: You raise a good point, but nothing to do with street racing. I can’t understand …and wonder how the government could jusitfy exempting luxury cars from the tax while forcing so many to pay the tax on so many other NECESSARY items/services. h.o)

  22. RossK says:

    e.a.f. and H.O.–

    Just to be clear, that luxury tax was a 3% on top of the old PST that was then removed when we went to the HST.

    Thus…with both exemptions and additions you could, if you were so inclined, actually think of the PST as a ‘progressive’ VAT tax.

    (I know I, and I’m pretty sure Norman Farrell, think of it that way)

  23. Dan says:

    Harvey and everyone else;

    Coming to this one a bit late……

    My wife has worked in the film industry here since ’88. While the BC Film Commission and the Motion Picture Production Industry Association did endorse keeping the HST, what is specifically not addressed by Mean Gene is the fact the BC Film Tax Credit program can now be reinstated and re-worked to negate any advantage or perceived advantage for the film industry. Just as it was previously……

    My wife has been puzzled for weeks about how people seem to spout this nonsense about the film industry leaving tomorrow morning along with a myriad of other businesses.

    Here is my view;

    If you don’t want to do business in BC, fine. Take your business, fold up and go to another province or the US; we will replace your business tomorrow morning with one that performs better, is leaner and lighter on their feet, along with a WILLINGNESS TO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE OF THE TAX BURDEN.

    Now it seems to me that the old PST has been around since the early 50’s. Plenty of business has been conducted in BC since that point.

    Without the HST BC will not ever be empty of commerce.

    In the last 25 years business taxes have dropped by 40%. Has anyone you know witnessed prices dropping exponentially? I think not…..

    (Response: You raise an interesting point: too bad the worknig media, who are PAID to keep us well informed, have never raised that issue …just parroting instead the government’s and industry’s “sky is falling” pap. h.o)

  24. Dan says:

    Well Harvey,

    All I can respond with is this; I made a choice long ago to be informed on a variety of issues along with teaching my family the same, by example.

    Considering the cost we the people have gone to construct buildings to house libraries of all sorts, ignorance in this country, Canada, is a conscious choice made deliberately by many. It gives them an excuse not to be responsible for their own lives.

    Further, it is the same very people who choose to remain ignorant of serious issues facing us today that cry loudest when things do not go their way…

    So while I agree with you that the MSM is PAID to inform correctly, I’ll do it for free!!

    Have a good weekend…cu later..

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