More than just opposing the direction of the Liberal government we came together around a positive and progressive vision for a 21st century society. This vision can be summed up by this way:
The strength of British Columbia is our people. We each contribute in unique and different ways, through our talents, ideas and hard work to build a better BC. Building communities where every woman, man and child is treated with fairness and dignity, and respect is a shared responsibility.
When government singles out groups of individuals – by cutting services they depend on, raising fees inequitably, and unfairly shifting taxes – it diminishes all of us. It doesn’t bring us together. It divides us.
The purpose of the Coalition to Build a Better BC is to bring us together.
The public, community and cultural services that we have built together over the years contribute greatly to a vibrant and diverse BC. They help to ensure that every British Columbian can participate and share in a quality of life that is recognized around the world.
Public, community and cultural services are essential cornerstones of a civil society. They are a critical component of our economic well-being, especially in difficult economic times. A strong public sector to support, build and regulate the private sector is vital to the social, environmental and economic health of the province. (from CBBBC “about” page)
Why a campaign for fair taxes?
In several empowering and inspiring gatherings we shared our concerns and dreams and came to an important realization: we all need stronger public services and a vibrant social sector to achieve the Better BC we know is possible.
We also recognized that as a society we have to be willing to pay for those things. We believe most British Columbians share this vision and this commitment. They just insist, as we do, that our tax system be fair. That it takes the most from those most able to afford it. That it increases equality between citizens not greater disparity.
An important debate but it misses the real point. Both options are “flat taxes” – that is millionaires and minimum wage workers pay the same 12 percent: in a single tax or in combination. The only difference is in what items are covered.
There are good reasons to oppose the HST. The dishonest way it was introduced – just weeks after an election where Gordon Campbell insisted it was not being considered – angered a lot of people. Enough for the petition campaign to exceed difficult hurdles and force the coming referendum vote. Now the independent report commissioned by the provincial government reports it will cost ordinary BC families around $350 more per year than the PST.
And there is no guarantee any savings to business will be passed on to consumers. This makes the HST a $2 billion tax shift from ordinary British Columbians to wealthy corporations. Many of the biggest and most profitable companies operating in BC are based outside the province or even outside Canada so the HST sends even more profits and cash right out the door.
On the other hand, many reasonable people, including some members of our coalition, worry that jumping on an anti-tax bandwagon when public services are already under strain from ten years of tax cutting will do more harm than good. They have a point too. The last thing we need is a California style tax revolt – the kind that has bankrupted public services in that U.S. state. It’s a tough choice.
What shouldn’t be so tough is to decide to fight for a tax system that is really fair. A system that doesn’t let huge profitable corporations siphon their profits into other provinces and other countries without contributing to our communities.
A tax system that says: care for the elderly, education for young people, help for the needy is more important than a third luxury SUV in a Point Grey driveway.
A tax system that says: public water, public transit and public parks are worth more to us than a second ski chalet in Whistler in case there isn’t enough snow in Aspen Colorado.
A tax system that says: the arts and community cultural events, sports programs for youth and recreational opportunities for the physically challenged are our priorities, not designer handbags, designer watches and designer shoes. Well, maybe the shoes.
That’s the real issue on June 24 – and every day. That’s your choice at every election. Which vision do you choose?