Baldrey offered the usual Liberal positioning, making these points about HST:
- the tax is here to stay.
- no matter how many signatures the anti-HST petition eventually garners, the prospects of actually getting rid of the tax appear dim.
- the province is locked into a contractual agreement with the federal government.
- it's unlikely there will be much political pressure on an NDP government to repeal the tax.
- their voices (a lot of economists] have been shouted down by the outcry over the HST).
- the earliest [voters] can begin a recall campaign is mid-November. . . Will the public anger still be there by that time? Perhaps, but the rules are stacked against a successful recall (just as they are stacked against a successful petition).
"Sorry, but we the people are not finished with this issue yet. First of all, I bet Baldrey is amazed (as a lot of others) that this anti-HST petition has even got this far -- following his earlier pieces.Now, even amateur pundits know that after the Liberals sidetrack the HST referendum, they will be ignoring the single largest objection ever voiced in Canada by voters. Something like 600,000 have already signed the petition, 75% report they are willing to sign and 82% of the population oppose HST. By the end date, probably about 800,000 citizens will have signed the petition.
Secondly, there is historical precedence of the HST being repealed. The Saskatchewan government in the mid-'90s repealed the HST after the incumbent government was tossed out and the new one elected over this very issue. So, for him to say it is "unlikely" the NDP would repeal the tax if elected in 2013 seems funny -- especially if that were to be the primary reason for their election win.
Thirdly, recall in the fall is a distinct possibility. Does he really think the signatures of 40 per cent of the registered voters in certain ridings is insurmountable? This is in light of now more than 5,000 anti-HST canvassers. So, as this situation plays out (and presuming all of his other reasons for petition failure are correct) -- it looks as if it could be a good old-fashioned "Showdown -- Recall in the Fall!"
One thing I predict, as do many other commentators, is that the Liberal Party will pay a high price if they ignore the clearly stated will of the people. Never in our province's history has a message been sent to government that is stronger. The Liberal Party will end up like Ujjal Dosanjh's version of the NDP in 2001 if they pay no attention.
Will voters wait until 2013 to throw out Campbell and his crew. Not at all likely. Residual anger will make recall a simple process and it will be focused on hand picked ridings and an army of angry, experienced organizers and workers are primed to go. Baldrey limits his discussion of recall to an effort against Gordon Campbell. That is not going to be opposition strategy. The real targets will be seven of the 98 lb weaklings in his caucus, the ones who scraped in with small margins, have been quiet ever since and will not survive a general rejection of Liberals.
The Party should take no comfort from Keith Baldrey's words. His judgement is questionable since he is one of the writers who has been saying for years that the BC Rail Scandal held no story and the referendum process was completely unworkable. I bet the Liberals wish those things were true.
This is a fascinating time in provincial politics. It should bring out the passion of any reporter not suffering from near fatal ennui. Instead, we get recycled talking points and press releases. Keith and his press gallery colleagues should have a look at Adrian Raeside's editorial cartoons at the Times Colonist. Raeside voices the opinions of most people outside the partisan loop of Liberals and their corporate sponsors. Here is an example, you'll have to imagine the drawing.
- Question: How do you start a small, marginal political party in BC?
- Answer: Start a large mainstream party, appoint Gordon Campbell as your leader and wait.