Thursday, August 12, 2010

Now what? The HST will be with for several more years no matter what.

What is going to happen in BC politics?

The danger is that over 700,000 people signed the petition and more than 6000 people actively worked on it are going to feel even more alienated and angered.   These numbers are a very large and significant political movement and are comparable to the two main political parites in the province.

The decision by the Chief Electoral Officer is a God send for the Anti-HST crowd, their supporters are energized and ready to take on the government.   If the petition had been quietly send on to the legislative committee, the outrage of the public would be dissipated.    People would no longer be as motivated to get involved.   This decision will make recall campaigns realistic.

The decision by Craig James is so bad for the government that one almost has to wonder if he has a personal partisan interest at play here and wants to see the NDP in power.   Certainly this seems to be about the only reason for the decision that makes sense to me.  If the legality of the Act had been an issue, Elections BC should have dealt with that upfront.   There were no shortage of people telling them at the time that Act was outside of the authority of the province to enact.    To accept the initiative and now delay the process because of a lawsuit is simply unreasonable.

I am certain that the BC Supreme Court will rule that the HST Extinguishment Act as Ultra Viries and this will end the petition going forward.   This will mean no referendum unless the government chooses to hold the referendum.  This will further enrage the public.

What comes now is recall and that starts in November.    Based on the success of the Anti-HST petition, the ridings most likely to succeed with recall are:

  1. Cariboo Chilcotin
  2. Boundary Similkameen
  3. Peace River North
  4. Kootenay East
  5. Shuswap
  6. Saanich North and the Islands
  7. Kamloops North Thompson
  8. Chilliwack Hope
  9. Vernon Monashee
  10. Westside Kelowna

Of these 10 ridings, most of them are rural.   They also contain ridings in which third party populist/right wing candidates did well.    If all ten are recalled, I see the NDP being able to win four of them the Liberals retain two and the Conservatives or populist independents win four.   The new legislature would be 42 Liberals, 39 New Democrats and six Conservatives and independents.   The Liberals are minority but there is no governing alternative available.

I should add I am not convinced that George Abbott or Barry Penner can be recalled.  I am also not sure that the idea of a Total Recall campaign can work.

The recall process also has some major problems if you are trying to organize province wide.   Each campaign is a separate event and anyone can start a recall.  Unless there is a tight rein on the process, I can see it getting chaotic as there could be multiple recalls going on at the same for one MLA.

When the recall is accepted as recalling the MLA, there is a vacancy but the government can choose the date of the by-election.   10 Liberals could be recalled and the provincial government could simply put the date of the by-elections six months down the road and still govern with a majority.  

Recalls can start as of November 12th of this year.    A recall campaign has 60 days to get the signatures needed, this is 30 days less than an initiative petition.   Elections BC then has 42 days to verify the signatures. If one starts on the first day, this takes us to March 7th 2011.   The by-election has to be called within six months of that date, so it has to be held by September 7th 2011.

The November start for a recall is a bad time because of the loss of so many days between December 20th and January 2nd because of the holidays.   A better start date, assuming the weather is not an issue, would be January 3rd 2011, this would put the potential by-election date as late as October of 2011.

If there is no fall sitting, the government can continue till the spring of 2012 before facing a potential defeat in the house.  

What all of this means is a lot of political chaos and bad blood potentially for the next 18 months.
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