Two weeks from now, when Christy Clark becomes premier of British Columbia, she will provide the Liberal government with a more affable, less technocratic persona than Gordon Campbell, but she must give her slogan "Families First" greater specificity. Above all, she needs to take a strong stand in favour of the Harmonized Sales Tax, if she is to put the province's finances on a sound basis - something that would surely benefit families.
Early in the leadership campaign, Ms. Clark assumed the HST was already dead: "Let our MLAs do their jobs, and let our MLAs vote down the HST. Do it by March 31 and get it over with and get on with life in B.C." That allowed her not to emphasize her own views on it. Later, she amended her stance by saying that the HST referendum, scheduled for September, should be held in June.
Once she is premier, Ms. Clark should clearly renounce her former HST fatalism. The public anger at the timing of the HST announcement only a couple of months after the provincial election of May, 2009, may have seemed irreversible, but many British Columbians now seemed prepared to look at the question more calmly and coolly.
It is encouraging that Gwyn Morgan, the former CEO of Encana Corp., who contributed money to Ms. Clark's campaign, is now part of her transition team. Mr. Morgan is a forthright advocate of the HST.
If B.C. were to end the HST, it would not only lose its economic advantages - to families and businesses alike - but it would have to repay $1.6-billion to the federal government. Ms. Clark wants to eliminate B.C.'s deficit. She cannot do so soon unless she fights vigorously for the HST.
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