Dix wants PST back where it was

NDP leader Adrian Dix is flanked by MLA Carole James

NDP leader Adrian Dix brought his low-key “stop the HST” tour to a Victoria coffee shop Wednesday, calling for people to vote yes in the upcoming referendum on the harmonized sales tax.

Flanked by Vancouver Island MLAs, a local naturopath and a theatre manager, Dix said he and other NDP members will ask the public to vote for a return to the seven-per-cent provincial sales tax. He’s counting on voters to be reminded of the HST’s extra consumer costs whenever they buy a coffee and muffin.

“My job is just to go around and talk to people, to knock on doors and to put forward the very compelling case that we should return to the PST, and we should get rid of the HST,” Dix told reporters in his second stop of the tour.

Dix contrasted the NDP’s effort, which has no specific budget, to the B.C. Liberal government’s $5 million advertising campaign and the unknown spending of the businesses promoting the HST under the Smart Tax Alliance label. The B.C. government’s “stick man” ad campaign began as neutral information, but now promotes the promise to lower the HST rate to 10 per cent over three years.

Naturopath Pamela Hutchison said the provincial portion of HST extended to vitamins and alternative therapies has reduced demand for them. Ian Case, manager of Intrepid Theatre, said the extra seven-per-cent tax on tickets is depressing sales for performing arts events.

Tuesday’s kickoff event in Burnaby was held in a family kitchen, to highlight the independent estimate that a family with $100,000 income pays an average of $1,000 a year more, as long as the HST remains at 12 per cent.

Elections BC is sending out more than three million ballots starting next week for the mail-in referendum, with a target of having them all delivered by June 24. They must be returned by July 22 to be counted.