Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fight HST FOI documents show BC Finance Minister Kevin Falcon dodged calls from federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on HST for 19 days!

News Release                                                                     Sunday, January 15, 2012

Falcon didn’t meet October 31 request from Flaherty to talk until at least November 18, FOI documents requested by Fight HST show – so much for urgency in ending HST

VANCOUVER – BC Liberal Finance Minister Kevin Falcon repeatedly delayed a request from federal Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to talk by phone about ending the Harmonized Sales Tax for at least 19 days, according to internal documents obtained by Fight HST through a Freedom Of Information request, says Fight HST leader Bill Vander Zalm.

The FOI of emails revealed that Flaherty requested a telephone discussion with Falcon about the HST on October 31, 2011 but that as of November 14 the call not only hadn’t happened but was repeatedly rescheduled, with the last date showing a call to take place on November 18, Vander Zalm said. He added that whether the discussion actually occurred even then isn’t known because the FOI request didn’t go past that date.

Falcon claimed Wednesday that BC and Ottawa had a “difficult, protracted negotiation” but didn’t reveal he couldn’t find time to return Flaherty’s call for nearly three weeks, Vander Zalm said.

“The outright deception from the BC government about how hard it was working to follow the will of the people following the August binding referendum is astonishing,” Vander Zalm says. “Minister Falcon told the public and the Legislature he was finding it incredibly difficult but the reality is that he avoided talking to Minister Flaherty repeatedly.”

“This once again confirms our suspicion that the BC Liberal government is deliberately delaying the extinguishment of the HST as democratically decided by voters in order to keep gouging BC consumers with this unfair and expensive tax,” Vander Zalm said. 

The FOI emails between Victoria and Ottawa reveal the following chronology of failure to communicate:

Flaherty’s office first requested a call with Falcon at 8:07 a.m. on October 31 by email to Falcon’s office.

Falcon’s office declined that day because “Minister Falcon is in Question Period.”

Flaherty’s office then asked for a call at 8 a.m. November 1 but Falcon’s staff replied negatively, saying: “Shoot! Sorry, Minister Falcon will be on a plane.”

Flaherty’s office offered to take a call in Berlin that weekend from Falcon but it did not happen.

Falcon’s office turned down another date and time proposed by Flaherty’s office on November 7, saying: “Unfortunately today will not work for Minister Falcon.”

After more delays – some from Flaherty – another call was scheduled for November 18, with Flaherty travelling in China and Japan.  It is unclear if this call happened as the FOI request period only went to November 15.

Vander Zalm says it’s unbelievable that Falcon would repeatedly not making himself available to talk to Flaherty when the $1.6 billion federal HST grant repayment and federal legislation need to extinguish the HST were at stake.

“These are grounds for Premier Christy Clark to fire Minister Falcon – a clearly documented case of repeatedly failing to act in British Columbia’s best interests in negotiating with the federal government over billions of dollars in taxes,” Vander Zalm said.

“BC’s Finance Minister can’t find time to call the federal Finance Minister for 19 days despite Ottawa’s repeated attempts to talk?  This is a ridiculous, embarrassing situation for the BC government that can only be explained by its need for more HST cash – nothing else makes sense,” Vander Zalm concluded.

A copy of the full FOI of emails is available to media by contacting Fight HST.


1 comment:

  1. Another nail in the BC Dictator Liberal Government. Thanks for the information Bill VanderZalm.