MLA Coons arrives Thursday to discuss HST

  • Apr. 7, 2010 7:00 p.m.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons is coming over to Haida Gwaii on April 8 for four days of public meetings and coffee chats with islanders. Mr. Coons said he will be focusing on the new Harmonized Sales Tax, or HST, during this visit, and how it will affect individuals, families and communities. The HST is a new 12 percent sales tax which will replace the 5 percent GST and 7 percent PST as of July 1, but it will be applied to several items currently exempt from the PST such as restaurant meals, haircuts, sports classes, newspapers, and house sales. He’ll be talking more about this at public meetings in Masset (Thursday, April 8 at 7 pm at the Green Church) and Queen Charlotte (Saturday, April 10 at 4 pm at the community hall). He’ll also be holding coffee chats on Friday, April 9 in Tlell (from 10 am until 11:30 am at the Rising Tide Bakery) and on Sunday, April 11 in Sandspit (from noon until 1:30 pm at the Airport Inn). Mr. Coons said the NDP has opposed the HST since the Liberals first announced their intention to implement it, shortly after last year’s provincial election. The NDP gathered tens of thousands of signatures on an online petition which has been presented in the Legislature. That effort has now been overtaken by an official anti-HST petition under the province’s Recall and Initiative Act, spearheaded by former premier Bill Vander Zalm. Under the act, this group has 90 days – starting this week and running until July 5 – to collect signatures from at least 10 percent of the voters in each riding. If they succeed, the government could be forced to hold a referendum on the HST. Mr. Coons said he is not allowed to be involved in the official petition as an MLA, but he is allowed to collect signatures in his spare time and has registered as a canvasser. Here in the North Coast riding, Prince Rupert resident Gina Clark is in charge of recruiting canvassers and circulating the petition. The North Coast has the smallest population of any riding in BC and organizers here have to collect about 1,550 signatures, although Ms Clark said they will be aiming for 2,500. “I think it will be possible, there’s a lot of people who want to sign it,” she said. There are three canvassers on Haida Gwaii: Skye Cantin in Queen Charlotte and Marion Pierce and Betty Stewart in Port Clements. All three will be able to go door to door collecting signatures as soon as they have their ID badges and official petition forms, Ms Clark said.