HST ads need a critical read

Interior News editor discusses the HST information advertisements.

I don’t know how informed a vote people will be able to make based on the B.C. government’s information campaign on the HST referendum.

The HST Information Office website, www.hstinbc.ca, describes the purpose of the office to make sure “you have the information you need to make an informed referendum decision.”

One of the advertisements that has come out of this information campaign asks the voter to understand the referendum question.

In lays out the actual question you’d see in the ballot — “Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST and reinstating the PST in conjunction with the GST?” — and lists two options.

Voting yes, they say, brings back the GST and PST at 12 per cent.

The vote for no, they suggest, is actually a vote to lower the HST.

“To lower the HST from 12% to 10%, vote NO,” the advertisement said.

An interesting choice of words.

Sure, the HST is announced to be lowered to 10 per cent in a few years, but that’s not what the referendum is asking. The referendum is only asking if you want to keep the HST or go back to the old system.

It seems unfair from a group that seemingly wants to give people the knowledge to make informed decisions that they’d blur the matter at hand.

The website does have some good information, including the independent panel’s report on the HST. Just don’t forget what the actual question is.

And it might be worth reinforcing for those who haven’t voted yet, a vote for no means that the HST stays. A vote for yes means that the PST and GST come back. (You’re being asked if you want to remove the HST, not if you want to keep it.)

And remember that because of the postal lock-out you have an extra couple of weeks to get your ballots in. Now Elections BC has to get your ballot by 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 5.

Oh yeah, and pay attention to those darned envelopes. I had to read over the instructions five times make sure I put the right ones into the right ones.


Cameron Orr is the editor of The Interior News.