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September 14, 2010

Campbell as Lucy with the Football

Does Premier Gordon Campbell think he's Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown yet again? He is asking British Columbians to trust him, although a recent Angus Reid poll indicates 78% of those surveyed don't.

He's promised to ignore the stringent rules of the Recall and Initiative Act's requirement to measure the vote against eligible voters, and instead keep or eliminate the HST on the basis of what a majority of those who actually vote in a September 2011 referendum say.

Campbell has to be dreaming to think that a simple majority won't vote against the HST at any time - now, 2011 or ever; his only hope for a no vote rests on the Act's requirement to measure the vote against eligible voters rather than against actual voters. That is all the more reason to distrust his latest promise that he would abide by different rules.

He is presuming that he can survive a leadership review at his November BC Liberal convention and numerous recall campaigns that could eliminate his hold on power long before September 2011. He's the same Premier who promised not to break HEU's contract, not to sell BC Rail and not to implement the HST.

Perhaps this is a lesson to beware of polls. The September Angus Reid poll that grabbed headlines over Campbell's record low approval rating (12%) also revealed that 62% of those surveyed want a referendum on the HST. It was not revealed whether those surveyed realized that a successful referendum requires nothing more than that the anti-HST bill is introduced to the legislature, exactly as if the legislative committee had referred it to the legislature rather than to a referendum. A Campbell Liberal majority on the committee choose to refer the petition to a referendum, likely as directed by Campbell.

Most political observers considered it next to impossible to meet the petition requirements for a successful initiative. Most also thought the issue couldn't be kept alive over the summer. With that record, don't bet against successful recall campaigns or a successful referendum in 2011. One thing is certain: the decision to go to referendum in 2011 guarantees another year of focus on the HST.