On principle, HST money must be repaid to Ottawa

Citizens are always complaining that politicians lied or that they did not keep their promises.

Citizens are always complaining that politicians lied or that they did not keep their promises.

On the news last night, there was Premier Christy Clark coyly smirking about getting out of repaying Ottawa the $1.6 billion BC took to implement the HST.

Undoubtedly, most British Columbians are cheering for Clark to be 100 per cent successful in reneging on British Colombia’s written agreement with the federal government on implementing the HST.

As a society we like to talk the talk about integrity, morals, ethics, and principles as long as it isn’t costing us, as individuals or a society, anything or any inconvenience.

But as soon as it becomes inconvenient or is going to cost us effort, or worse money, we walk away – ignoring integrity, morals, ethics and principles.

We had an agreement with the federal government on the HST whereby the province of British Columbia would receive payments totalling $1.6 billion dollars in exchange for implementing the HST.

In that agreement it was clearly set out that we had the right to change our minds and extinguish the HST.

It was also clearly set out that if we chose to change our minds and not participate in the HST, the $1.6 billion would have to be repaid to Ottawa.

The fact the $1.6 billion would have to be repaid to the federal government if we voted to extinguish the HST was oft cited in the discussion leading up to the referendum on keeping or extinguishing the HST.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper clearly and definitely stated that if British Columbia chose to extinguish the HST the province would have to repay the $1.6 billion dollars to the federal government.

Knowing that a major consequence of choosing to extinguish the HST would be repaying Ottawa that $1.6 billion dollars, British Columbians voted to extinguish the HST – we voted to return the $1.6 billion to Ottawa.

That may be an inconvenient truth, but for a people or a society of integrity, morals, ethics and principles there would be no option other than returning the money.

James W. Breckenridge