Islanders clamouring to sign anti-HST petition

  • Apr. 28, 2010 1:00 p.m.

By Alex Rinfret–Islanders of all political persuasions are clamouring to sign the anti-HST petition, according to canvasser Betty Stewart of Port Clements, and the number of volunteers collecting signatures has multiplied since last week. “It’s going awesome, we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to this petition,” Ms Stewart said. “Everybody that I’ve come across wants to sign it.” Ms Stewart said she’s been carrying the petition forms everywhere she goes because so many people come up to her and want to sign. She has also gone door-to-door in Port collecting signatures, and has held a couple of signing sessions at the local gas station, Gas Plus. So far, not a single person she’s approached has turned down the opportunity to oppose the HST (although there have been a few who wanted to sign and couldn’t, either because they are not permanent residents of this riding, or because they are not citizens). The main complaints she hears about the 12 percent tax, which replaces separate federal and provincial sales taxes, are that the provincial Liberals said during last year’s election campaign that they had no intention of introducing the HST, then turned around and did so within days of being elected, and that it will increase the cost of several items now exempt from the 7 percent provincial sales tax. Many people also speculate that the government needs the money to cover Olympic cost over-runs. “It’s the topic of quite a few conversations,” Ms Stewart said. “The issue is, we didn’t have a say in this, we were misled.” Of particular concern for some Port residents is the way the new tax, to be implemented July 1, will add another 7 percent to the cost of safety equipment like work boots, Ms Stewart said. “People stop what they’re doing to sign this, no kidding,” she said. “We’ve had enough, we’re not going to lie down and take it.” Official petition canvassers on Haida Gwaii now include: Leslie Foster, Jenny White and Skye Cantin in Queen Charlotte, Joni Fraser, Carole Bowler, Evan Putterill, Brenna Quaas and Donna Brady in Sandspit, Anne Barnes in Tlell, Ed Robinson and Shirley Baker in Masset, Mary Montgomery in Old Massett, and Ms Stewart and Marion Pierce in Port Clements. Ms Cantin will be at City Centre in Queen Charlotte every Monday from 4:30 until 5:45 pm starting May 3 until the petition deadline in early July. Islanders who want to sign the petition are welcome to phone Ms Stewart at 250-557-4760 and she’ll pass their name to a canvasser in their community. She’d prefer for people to call between 5 and 7 pm. Watch for posters with details of other signing opportunities. Organizers must collect signatures from at least 10 percent of registered voters in every riding in the province before July 5 for the petition to be successful. However, several ridings have already reached the required 10 percent just a few weeks into the campaign. As of April 26, the petition had collected 1,285 signatures in the North Coast riding, said organizer Roberta Walker. The North Coast officially needs to collect 1,550 signatures to meet the 10 percent threshold, but organizers have set a target of 2,265 signatures, or 15 percent, in case some are disqualified. Ms Stewart said canvassers on the islands will keep gathering names until everybody who wants to sign the petition has done so. “Every signature counts and we will take as many as we possibly can gather,” she said. “I’d love to see 100 percent, that’s my own personal wish.”