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British Columbia Fight HST's recall petition approved on second attempt

Ida Chong, MLA for Oak Bay - Gordon Head in Victoria, BC, poses for photographs along Oak Bay Avenue Nov. 18, 2010.

Deddeda Stemler for the Globe and Mail/deddeda stemler The Globe and Mail

The second time was the charm for anti-HST organizers hoping to recall a Vancouver Island MLA.

Elections BC announced on Tuesday it has approved a recall application against Universities Minister Ida Chong. The electoral office last week rejected the original application because it said the recall statement exceeded the 200-word limit. Recall organizers submitted a revised application on Thursday.

"The petition will be issued on Monday, Dec. 6, 2010, and at that time, registered canvassers will have 60 days to collect 15,368 or more valid signatures on the recall petition," Craig James, the province's chief electoral officer, wrote in a statement announcing the approval.

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The petition must be returned by Feb. 4, 2011, and then Elections BC has six weeks to verify the signatures.

Recall organizers have an expense limit of just under $36,000. They must also file a financial report within four weeks of the end of the recall period.

If the petition is successful, a by-election must be called within 90 days. Ms. Chong would be eligible to run as a candidate.

Anti-HST organizers plan to collect signatures against members of the Liberal government who supported the harmonized sales tax. Ms. Chong, MLA for the suburban Victoria riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head, is their first target.

Elections BC rejected the recall application last week under a rule it established two days after the petition was submitted. Anti-HST organizers said they were aware the application had a 200-word limit, but were never told acronyms such as MLA and HST counted as more than one word each. Elections BC said they were a combined eight words and the application was over the word-count limit.

The revised application, included with Elections BC's news release, was 179 words.

The rejection of the original application sparked anger among some British Columbians, and the chief electoral officer received threats of violence.

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Elections BC has approved 20 recall petitions since 1995, although none have been successful. In 1998, Parksville-Qualicum MLA Paul Reitsma resigned while signatures against him were being verified.

Once the recall petition is issued, the proponent must collect signatures from more than 40 per cent of registered voters within two months. In the May, 2009, provincial election, there were 38,419 voters in Ms. Chong's riding.

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