Les urges Rotarians to support HST

Chilliwack MLA John Les was an early and ardent advocate of the harmonized sales tax, raising the topic in a meeting with B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell soon after the 2009 election.

Chilliwack MLA John Les was an early and ardent advocate of the harmonized sales tax, raising the topic in a meeting with B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell soon after the 2009 election.

“I won’t take credit for originating the idea with him,” Les told Chilliwack Rotarians at a Thursday luncheon, but the MLA said he pointed out to Campbell in that meeting that without the HST, B.C. would soon find itself at a competitive disadvantage with Ontario, which had already introduced the new tax.

In his Thursday speech, Les admitted the B.C. Liberal government failed to introduce the HST properly to British Columbians, but he maintained the new tax will benefit the provincial economy, and improve productivity.

Although public anger over the HST eventually forced Campbell from office, Les said there are signs the public mood is turning, and the tax may pass the referendum now scheduled for June 24.

“But if the HST fails, then we will have some very unpleasant work to do,” he said.

First, the province will have to pay back $1.6 billion to the federal government for implementing the HST, and then it will have to find other ways to reduce the provincial deficit, which is “mortgaging the future of our kids,” he said.

But financial models show the HST will generate $900 million more in government revenues over the next three years, Les said, not because taxes are higher, but “just because the economy will grow larger.”

And with that larger economy, he explained, there will be “more revenue for government to pay for health care and education.”

“The HST is about our future economic growth,” he said. “It’s not about how much taxes are paid, it’s about (where) those taxes are levied … in the process.”

Les was named parliamentary secretary to the new Premier, Christy Clark, last month, and appointed to the treasury board and to the government’s planning and priorities committee.

But Les had high praise for the out-going Premier, saying Campbell had “left a tremendous legacy for this province” turning it from a “have-not” province in 2001 into a “national player again” in 2009.

“We have enormous potential here in the province of B.C.,” Les said, it’s location giving it access to the burgeoning markets of China, India and Korea.

He said if the B.C. Liberals are re-elected government in the next election, the party would continue its low taxation policies to spur long-term economic growth and reduce the deficit.

“But we’re not hell-bent to reduce taxes to the bare minimum and leave a whole bunch of social carnage,” he said.


Just Posted

Train ride at Minter store not part of this year’s festive fun

Tough decision made to stop seasonal train in its tracks after injury suffered by Brian Minter

Players Guild challenges Chilliwack residents to solve classic Agatha Christie whodunit mystery

The Chilliwack Players Guild is performing Murder on the Nile from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2

Chilliwack students learn about business and charity during entrepreneurship fair

Mt. Slesse Grade 8 kids will be donating 20 per cent of their business profits to the food bank

Work wrapping up in Chilliwack on the Valley Rail Trail expansion

The trail is envisioned as the north-south spine of a future cycling network

Chilliwack saw sub-tropical blast of warm air Wednesday

It didn’t break any official records but it was warmer than usual by several degrees

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

Deer carcasses don’t belong in green bins, says B.C. city

City of Nanaimo issues reminder to residents, saying fur isn’t compostable

B.C. couple helping wildfire evacuees in northern California

A planned holiday has turned into a humanitarian effort for a Penticton couple

Dead whale discovered on B.C. shore

The whale was discovered Friday morning near the BC Ferries terminal

‘This is gangster,’ bait car thief declares on video

Footage from Abbotsford gains attention on social media

Parents skeptical as Abbotsford school fills French immersion vacancy

School district says new teacher will start Dec. 1 closing vacancy currently filled by English teacher

B.C. to offer gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people

Roughly 100 people in B.C. travel each year out of province for lower surgeries

U.S. mayor and dying dog’s roadtrip to B.C. goes viral

First vacation in three years came a month after blood cancer diagnosis

Federal fall update expected to offer more support for struggling news industry

Ottawa committed $50 million over five years for local journalism in ‘underserved communities’ last budget

Most Read