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Flashbacks: This week in B.C. political history Add to ...


15 YEARS AGO… (April 17-23, 1996)

B.C. politicians resist Liberal HST push

Ottawa's ongoing push to merge provincial sales taxes with the GST met stiff resistance in B.C. this week, as federal finance minister Paul Martin announced that three Atlantic provinces would receive nearly $1-billion in compensation for agreeing to adopt a "harmonized sales tax."

B.C. finance minister Elizabeth Cull called the payments "outrageous," and complained that the federal government is using the money "to create a tax break in Atlantic Canada," while "cutting over $400-million out of health care and education here in B.C."

Mr. Martin said Tuesday that B.C. would collect $240-million a year more from consumers by merging its sales tax with the GST, extra revenue that would offset the need for compensation from Ottawa.

Ms. Cull insisted that a harmonized tax would cost the average B.C. family $400 a year more in taxes, while opposition leader Gordon Campbell promised that a Liberal government would not endorse any sales-tax scheme that would result in a tax increase for British Columbians.

Flash forward: Widespread voter anger over last year's decision to adopt the HST led to Mr. Campbell's resignation as premier in November. A provincewide referendum on the controversial tax will be held this summer.

25 YEARS AGO… (April 17-23, 1986)

Judges question legality of new prostitution law

The dismissal of prostitution charges against a Vancouver woman this week set the stage for a flurry of legal challenges arguing that Canada's new anti-solicitation law violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

On Wednesday, Judge Brian Bastin threw out a solicitation charge against Vancouver resident Leslie Lauden, citing a precedent set by Judge Robert Lemiski, who earlier this month declared the new law unconstitutional.

Judge Bastin is the fourth B.C judge in less than two months to challenge the new law, which makes it illegal to "communicate for the purposes of prostitution" in public places.

Judge Lemiski dismissed solicitation charges against Marguerite Marie Tremayne two weeks ago, saying the statute "restricts the right of individuals to speak freely" to each other.

Crown prosecutor Herb Weitzel said this week the province is appealing the decisions, adding that the Attorney-General's ministry has put a hold on approving prostitution charges until its case has been heard in court.

Vancouver police have laid 244 soliciting charges since the new law took effect in January.

Flash forward: Two weeks later, the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld the new anti-soliciting law and Vancouver police resumed their crackdown on prostitution.

Brennan Clarke, Special to The Globe and Mail

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