Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin said he expected the HST to be defeated but was surprised by the result in the Skeena riding.
“I didn’t expect 66-33 but knew it would be a big resounding yes to get rid of it,” he said today just after the result was announced.
It’s a resounding vote no to the provincial government as a 10 per cent difference in the percentage who voted yes compared to no is a big difference, he added of the provincial 55 to 45 spread.
The Skeena riding result was the seventh highest rejection spread in the province.
“It’s a real slap in the face to the people who brought it (HST) in,” said Austin.
The provincial government was unfair to shift $1.9 billion in the tax burden million from corporations to the people, said Austin.
Public anger lead to the departure of Gordon Campbell as premier, the overall loss of Liberal party popularity and an attempt by new premier Christy Clark to convince voters to accept the tax with their own money.
“Christy Clark and the Liberals have a huge problem,” said Austin, adding Clark has to abide by what the people voted.
“Those of us in Victoria voted against it every chance we got. [Skeena NDP MP] Nathan Cullen voted against it. This referendum gave an opportunity to the people to vote…and they voted as strongly as Nathan and I in our respective legislatures.”
While waiting for the provincial government to respond to the vote, Austin said the Liberals have three options of what to do: have a temporary raise to the deficit, raise provincial revenues by raising taxes or cutting services.
“I can assure you there’s no appetite for cutting services based on what the BC Liberals have done in the last [several] years,” said Austin.
“I imagine they’re beavering away at damage control,” he added about what the provincial government was doing after the results of the referendum vote.
The number of people who mailed back their referendum ballots was very close to the number of voters who voted in the 2009 election, said Austin.