Premier Christy Clark has turned down a challenge from NDP leader Adrian Dix to a one-on-one debate on the harmonized sales tax.
Dix accused Clark of so far avoiding debate on the issue and proposed a debate on CKNW’s Bill Good Show.
“When she had a chance to debate the HST in the legislature she shut proceedings down just before she was due to speak,” Dix said. “I’m inviting her to do the right thing and participate in this forum.”
He said the BC Liberals under Clark are heading partisan campaign to sell the HST to voters who decide the fate of the tax in this summer’s mail-in referendum.
Clark was previously criticized for avoiding local candidate debates during the Point Grey byelection this spring, choosing instead to use telephone town halls to reach voters.
“We won’t be playing those games,” Clark responded in a statement issued by her staff, adding voters need to make the HST decision on the merits of the policy, not a debate of leaders.
Dix accused her of hiding from a debate and said his offer stands.
“Premier Clark’s allies in the Smart Tax Alliance are running ads that say the ‘PST/GST gang is hiding from an honest debate,'” Dix said. “Now we know who’s really hiding.”
Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, meanwhile, tried to highlight two other leaders – the Greens’ Jane Sterk and BC Conservatives’ John Cummins – for their support of the ‘No’ side to keep the HST in place.
“It would have been easy for these leaders to simply oppose the HST on the basis of how it was introduced and implemented,” Falcon said. “But instead we now only have the NDP wanting to go back to a destructive two-tax system with the PST+GST.”
Referendum ballots are expected to be delivered by July 7.
Elections BC officials are considering an extension to the July 22 deadline for ballots to be returned.
The NDP has called for a two-week extension.