Monday, March 1, 2010

Bike Rally Update!

Hi,

The bike rally is this Wednesday at noon at the Legislature. Here is one last update for you.

Petition
The petition has spiked again and is now at over 4600! Thanks to everyone for helping make this so successful.

If you are still collecting hard-copies, make sure to email (lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca) or fax (250.479.4176) them in by 12 pm on Tuesday March 2. That is the deadline for the petition. I will present it to the Legislature on Wednesday afternoon.

Rally
Almost 300 people have RSVP’d on Facebook so we are expecting a great turnout. Rain or shine! We’ve got a super line-up of speakers. This is an important moment to celebrate cycling and to let the government know what we think of their plan to hike taxes on bikes. Don’t miss it!

(If you are in Nanaimo, there is a connected event happening this Wednesday at 4pm at the corner of Comox and Terminal. Details on Facebook.)

Do you want to attend Question Period? I’ve reserved twelve seats for people who want to stick around for QP. It is definitely something worth experiencing and it should be quite charged as the Budget is being introduced tomorrow. Email me by Tuesday at 3 pm if you want a ticket. I’ll need your full name and you’ll need to bring ID and be ready to go by 1:30 pm on Wednesday. (QP starts around 2 pm.)

Rationale
A few people have asked me why I am pushing on this issue so hard when there are many other equally good reasons to oppose the HST.

It is true that for me and many people, the first objection is one of principle: the current government promised during the recent election campaign that they would not introduce an HST. Once in power they quickly announced it as fait accompli. We must call them on this broken promise.

But this HST is also an assault on green initiatives. As an environmentalist, that is something that I have to speak out about. The bike issue is simply an excellent example of what is wrong with the HST. Also, I`m an avid cyclist myself so this issue is close to my heart. Further, this effort fits in very well with the larger anti-HST campaign. Finally, many people in Saanich South brought this issue to me and asked me to act on it.

For almost thirty years, bikes (and bike expenses like repairs, helmets and locks) have been PST exempt. Why? Because successive governments, agreed it made no sense to tax such a healthy and environmentally-friendly form of transportation.

In fact, it was Hugh Curtis, a Socred Finance Minister who first made this decision. In a Budget Speech in 1981, he said that cycling would be PST exempt because “it is consistent with a healthier, quieter and more energy-efficient society.”

This rationale has only become stronger over time as we’ve learned more about the benefits of healthy living and the importance of reducing our carbon emissions. The more we can encourage people to ride bikes rather than drive cars, the better it is for everyone. It means less traffic congestion, less wear and tear on our roads and potentially lower health-care costs.

I wonder if the B.C. government can explain how jacking up the price of a bike is going to help make B.C. more sustainable or encourage people to make healthy lifestyle choices. How does this possibly advance B.C.’s Climate Action Plan? 

A government that increases taxes on green transportation is traveling in the wrong direction. 

I am of the view that we need to create incentives for green transportation and disincentives for more polluting forms of transportation. Standing up for cyclists as an Opposition MLA is one way that I can help keep the pressure on.

What is Next?
The drive to stop the HST is just ramping up. The fighthst.com campaign is at the forefront and I will be supporting their efforts.

In terms of cycling, my petition and the rally are just the beginning. In the process of organizing these efforts, I’ve created a new BC network with thousands of cyclists and hundreds of bike stores and cycling coalitions.

We are a potent province-wide constituency that includes people from all walks of life and a range of political views.

I won’t stop until we are successful in making the BC government bike-friendly again. 

Squeaky wheels get the grease!

Thanks so much for your support,

Lana

Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South
250.479.4154
lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca

Visit www.squeakywheels.ca for more info.