Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Business coalition asks court to quash anti-HST petition

Justine Hunter

Victoria — From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Jun. 29, 2010 3:48PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Jun. 30, 2010 5:34AM EDT

Just as Elections BC begins to verify the names of more than 700,000 British Columbians who have signed a petition calling for the harmonized sales tax to be repealed, a coalition of business groups has asked the B.C. Supreme Court to quash the whole effort.

This week, Premier Gordon Campbell ruled out a legal challenge to the anti-HST petition, and critics swiftly accused the business community of acting as a stalking horse for his besieged Liberal government.

In court documents filed Tuesday, the business coalition argues that Elections BC should not have allowed the petition to move forward because it aims to force the province to do something it cannot – extinguish the federally created HST.

The anti-HST petition is to be delivered Wednesday to Elections BC in Victoria. The non-partisan agency has hired 35 extra staff to help check the signatures to determine whether the petition has the support of 10 per cent of eligible voters in every riding.

While that process gets under way, the business groups, including the Mining Association of British Columbia, the Coast Forest Products Association and the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce, will ask the court to set aside the petition.

“The Chief Electoral Officer erred in law and exceeded his jurisdiction,” states the writ, based on an opinion produced by former B.C. Liberal attorney-general Geoff Plant.


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