VICTORIA - The tax that launched a province-wide referendum, forced a premier out of office and set off a series of political apologies is officially on its way out.
British Columbia's finance minister introduced legislation that will help the province make the transition from the harmonized sales tax back to the provincial sales tax on April 1.
The introduction of Bill 2 by Mike de Jong comes almost 18 months after British Columbians voted in a referendum to dump the harmonized sales tax in favour of the PST.
The bill includes provisions like keeping the tax and price of tobacco constant, returns a 2.7 cents per litre tax on propane, and clarifies taxes on heating oil, non-motor fuel oil and natural gas.
After the tax was rejected by voters, the provincial government worked out an agreement to repay the federal government the $1.6 billion it gave the province as an incentive to blend the taxes.
The 12 per cent harmonized sales tax was a combination of the federal goods and services tax and the PST, and the ministry says more than 100,000 businesses will need to register to make the transition.
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Don't get excited. It's not imminent in Canada, or even in British Columbia. But the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/07/marijuana-legalization-bc-washington-pot_n_2088388.html">decision by Washington state voters to decriminalize the drug</a> is sure to stir debate north of the border. Perhaps activist <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/21/dana-larsen-bc-marijuana-petition-pot_n_2174174.html">Dana Larsen</a> will bring back his petition to relax enforcement of pot laws in B.C.
Legislature vs. Labour
A left-wing provincial government will mean labour peace with the unions, right? Don't be so sure. The B.C. Federation of Labour has thrown its <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dix-and-labour-pledge-mutual-support/article5769522/">wholesale support behind the NDP</a> in the next election, the Globe and Mail reports, but that doesn't mean B.C. will be free of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/04/bc-university-cupe-strike-ubc-sfu-uvic-unbc-tru_n_1939864.html">public sector strikes</a>.
Site C Dam Protests
The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/12/northern-gateway-ubc-study_n_2282633.html">Northern Gateway</a> and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ben-west/kinder-morgan-enbridge-trans-mountain-pipeline-oil_b_2229622.html">Kinder Morgan</a> pipelines will share the limelight with the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/03/site-c-dam-cost_n_1936911.html">Site C Dam</a>, a proposed third dam on B.C.'s Peace River that will enter an environmental assessment this year. It's expected to flood hundreds of hectares of land.
The Return Of The PST
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/08/26/hst-vote-bc_n_938296.html">Turfing HST</a> was the easy part. Re-educating an economy about the previous tax system will be a challenge. The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/niels-veldhuis/bc-pst-hst-tax-reform_b_1970961.html">Provincial Sales Tax (PST) returns April 1, 2013</a>, and we can expect many stories of confusion at reverting to a system that levied taxes on tangible goods, with a cavalcade of random exemptions.
Christy Clark's Leadership
She's the articulate premier of a majority government in Canada's most beautiful province. So how does Christy Clark keep <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/14/carol-todd-amanda-todd-mother-anti-bullying-conference_n_2130424.html">attracting</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/01/christy-clark-alison-redford-northern-gateway_n_1928096.html">negative</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/16/christy-clark-bc-fall-session-evan-solomon-letter_n_1888773.html">attention</a>? Will she lead her party to victory in the May provincial election?
Vancouver Real Estate Recovery
No one can say for sure what will happen to Vancouver's real estate market, but the <a href="http://www.bcrea.bc.ca/news-and-publications/news-room/news-releases/housing-forecast-news-release">B.C. Real Estate Association</a> predicts growth in provincial home sales in 2013. Perhaps Vancouver will finally get over the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/17/vancouver-housing-bubble_n_1890553.html">shock of tightened mortgage rules</a>.
A New Police Force?
The report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry means that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/18/misisng-women-inquiry-metro-vancouver-police_n_2320517.html">police reform</a> must be on the agenda this year. But don't hold your breath for a new police force this year. The provincial government has signed a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/21/bc-rcmp-deal-contract-details_n_1371048.html">20-year agreement to keep the RCMP</a>.
A New Government?
Far be it from us to predict that the B.C. NDP will win the 2013 election, but the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/04/christy-clark-bc-liberals-ndp-poll_n_1853245.html">polls don't tell us much different</a>. However, far from an NDP majority, the Liberals are getting plenty of help from the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/23/bc-conservative-support-poll-liberals-ndp_n_2177760.html">B.C. Conservatives</a>.