Colin Hansen made a May 31 appearance on a question and answer forum conducted by the Globe and Mail. Hansen again complained that opponents were spreading misinformation about HST and Hansen then proceeded to spread more. Here are examples, taken from the transcript:
“There will still be fewer things subject to the 7% BC HST than the GST.”
- Yes, Mr. Hansen, but more things are subject to 7% BC HST than were subject to PST.
“HST will be a big benefit for virtually all small businesses. Everything they now pay PST on will be 7% cheaper for almost all small businesses.”
- Yes, Mr. Hansen, but it will not be a “big” benefit for most because they don’t now pay PST on goods resold or on production machinery. However, the net amount they charge customers will rise if the product does not now attract PST. In reality, most of the $2 billion in business tax savings are realized by the very largest corporations, particularly exporters such as those in forestry, mining, oil and gas, whose customers pay no HST.
“A glass of wine or a beer at a restaurant or other licenced est should be less as the tax on your markup goes from 10% to 7%.”
- Yes, Mr. Hansen, but the province’s liquor mark-up is rising by the same amount gathered by the extra 3% liquor tax, so the wine or beer at a restaurant will not cost less.
“We has great communications staff. Our hands are a bit tied because of the Elections BC ruling. The Anti-HST groups are getting away with spreading a lot of misinformation.”
- Yes, Mr. Hansen, but Elections BC only clarified a law for which you have had responsibility for a decade. You could have registered as an opponent of the HST petition. And, by the way, Liberals are the ones spreading misinformation as you are doing today.
“The anti-hst voices are certainly played up more than those supporting the hst. One surprise I have is how unquestioning many people are when they get information via the internet and blogosphere.”
- Yes, Mr. Hansen, but 80% of BC residents oppose HST. Is it surprising that their voices register more than the 20% who agree with you? In reality, questioning drives the opposition, that’s why the official position of the government and big business groups has not succeeded. Ordinary folks understand the impact when you said, “The tax is revenue neutral but business saves $1.9 billion in the first year.”
“I have never said it will be revenue neutral _ another on [one] of the myths! I have pointed out that we will collect about the same $ under HST as we collect under PST.”
- Yes, Mr. Hansen, but revenue neutral would mean that you collect about the same under HST as you collect under PST. Perhaps, you want to try that answer again if you want to dispel a “myth.”
“This info [full details and dates of correspondence between BC and Feds] has already come out thro FOI. There are some who are frustrated that FOI did not produce evidence of communications prior to mid May. That because there was none.”
- Yes, Mr. Hansen, but most of the requested emails are blanked out, along with most of the rest of the 817 pages Access to Information officials identified in connection with the request.
“For small business in border communities, hst is a big benefit as they can compete on a level playing field. (ie. no consumption tax that has to be built into their prices). HST means we will be able to attract job creating investment on the same basis as Alta.”
- Yes, Mr. Hansen, but those BC residents who live near the Alberta border will do their shopping in Alberta and avoid the HST. That is where BC’s wine collectors stock their cellars already but that is because of Alberta having no PST and much lower mark-ups on liquor.
By the end of this, I concluded that Hansen, if that really was him at the keyboard, should submit his resignation as Minister of Finance. His defense was so weak that he is obviously not equipped to serve in this important ministry. The most telling point was his claim that all the communications between Victoria and Ottawa regarding HST had been released publicly. That is simply untrue. When the lie was pointed out, Hansen’s response was, “I will take a look at it.”