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Some time in early February, we'll know the initial results of the recall campaign under way in the Victoria-area riding held by B.C. cabinet minister Ida Chong.

If the recall forces have the required number of signatures from registered voters in Oak Bay-Gordon Head - 15,638 by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 4 - then Elections BC will begin the process of verifying the authenticity of all those who signed petitions calling for Ms. Chong to be removed from office.

That could take up to six weeks.

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If Elections BC rules that the petitions are valid, then a by-election must be held within three months, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $1-million.

All because the person who has led a grassroots rebellion against the HST - former premier Bill Vander Zalm - is upset that the provincial government has refused to move up the date of the referendum that is being held in September on the future of the tax.

Apparently, it matters not to Mr. Vander Zalm that his recall initiative makes little sense.

Most of the candidates running in the Liberal leadership race to replace Premier Gordon Campbell have pledged to hold the referendum sooner than scheduled. Consequently, there is the possibility that voters in Oak Bay-Gordon Head could be voting in a by-election after people across the province have voted in a referendum on the future of the HST.

How ridiculous is that?

Monday marked the halfway point in the campaign to oust Ms. Chong from office. The recall forces were not releasing any numbers, but it's difficult to imagine they are on pace to get enough signatures to trigger a by-election. By Christmas, they had just over 5,000. Since then, canvassers have spent about a week trying to add to that total, not an easy thing to do during the holidays.

They've added less than another thousand to their total, well behind the almost 7,800-plus they need at the halfway point to be on schedule to declare victory. And many believe it's far easier to get signatures in the first part of a campaign - when those most angry sign up and there is the greatest amount of publicity around the cause - than in the second half. And many believe it's far easier to get signatures in the first part of a campaign - when those most angry sign up and there is the greatest amount of publicity around the cause - than in the second half.

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In other words, the recall brigade has probably grabbed the low-hanging fruit already.

If the campaign fails, this will be a good thing because it should never have happened. It only came to this because the Liberal government refused to accede to Mr. Vander Zalm's demand that the date of the referendum be held sooner than mandated under provincial legislation.

As if Mr. Vander Zalm would have caved in to such a ridiculous order during his chaotic and controversy-ridden reign as premier.

This has nothing to do with being anti-democratic. Most of us are in favour of direct democracy inside certain agreed-upon parameters. Without them, you have the potential for disorder and uncertainty. B.C.'s recall and initiative legislation, the only such law in the land, was never intended to be a vehicle for the spiteful-minded with political agendas to exert, axes to grind and past scores to settle.

It was intended to get rid of MLAs who are not representing their ridings in the manner to which they were elected. It was designed to get rid of politicians who are corrupt or who, through any number of ways, have become an embarrassment to the people to whom they have been elected to represent.

That's not what this recall campaign is about and never was. It has nothing to do with Ms. Chong's record of service in her riding. By most accounts, she has done a good job, good enough to be elected four times. That is not always easy to do in these times.

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Ms. Chong was targeted because elections in her riding have always been close. She only won in 2009 by 561 votes. It is a riding almost classically split down the middle between Liberals and NDP, a fact which New Democratic activists working inside the anti-HST movement quickly seized upon when the decision was made to start recall drives throughout the province.

Of all the ridings in the province, Oak Bay-Gordon Head offered the best chance of victory.

The recall forces may still get their win, although it now seems unlikely. Mr. Vander Zalm and his anti-HST disciples will have to content themselves with a provincewide referendum that seems likely to blow the tax into oblivion.

The hole that leaves in the province's finances will be someone else's problem to fix. But Mr. Vander Zalm couldn't care less about that.

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