Friday, July 31, 2009


Dear Constituents,

Thank you for all the letters this week about the government's announcement of their plans to "harmonize" our provincial tax with the federal one.

Many of you will not have heard of it yet. It's called the harmonized sales tax or HST.

You know me, I'm all about harmony! But in this case I see some problems on the horizon and I'm not alone. In fact, every single person who has spoken to me about this has been either shocked or angry.

And your feelings are well founded.....springing a new tax on us without consultation is unacceptable. Why was this not discussed during the election period? I don't think there are many British Columbians who appreciate these tactics.

Why am I concerned? Well, for starters, there are a number of important exemptions in the current PST. There are products or services on which one does not have to pay the PST right now. Harmonizing the taxes has impact of removing those exemptions. So you pay more. More for everything from funeral services to household renovations and bicycles.

When you see a government increasing taxes on "green" choices, you have to wonder what they are thinking? Is the HST all bad? I'm not sure yet. I am going through the information bit by bit to analyze the possible impacts.

I can tell you one thing though, and increasing or decreasing taxes has the potential to shape our behaviour

We need to push our tax system to DECREASE taxes on products and services that benefit us and INCREASE taxes on the opposite. This is the idea behind high taxes on tobacco.

I like that kind of positive solution.

But under the HST you will have to pay 7% more to buy a bicycle! Bikes reduce congestion, pollution and global warming and makes us healthier!

Increasing taxes on them is the wrong thing to do.

I'm working on solutions right now. I'd like to hear your thoughts. Please visit my facebook page to make a public comment or email me at

Happy British Columbia day! I hope this long weekend gives you time to pause, enjoy this hot weather and be with those who make you happy.


PS. I'd like to share a letter I received a few days ago from a prominent member of our constituency and addressed to our Premier:
July 25, 2009
You’ve finally lost my vote on the harmonized tax, not that the individual seems to matter even though small voter turnout means each vote has more impact.

I am adamantly opposed to the harmonized tax, and, no, I don’t believe businesses will pass on their benefit to the individual, but I am even more opposed to the arrogance behind announcing the tax as a fait accompli. Implying that HST wasn’t on the agenda 3 months ago, before the election, is an insult to the intelligence of the public or yourselves.

And, yes, of course anything can be rationalized but rationalization does not guarantee voters will be convinced....

As Lana Popham is my MLA I am copying this to her to register my opinion on the HST.

J.I., Saanich South, Victoria.
[Full name withheld by request; reprinted with permission.]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tax on Bikes? Come on!

Implementing the HST on bicycles proves that the Campbell government is not serious about climate change solutions. There hasn’t been a social tax on bicycles since 1981. Back then it was an extremely progressive move to cut taxes for environmental and health reasons. This has made purchasing bikes more affordable for over 25 years. And now, without consultation, the price of making green choices becomes more expensive. Climate change is a serious problem and this government can’t seem to understand that. I am astonished by the Liberals regressive message to British Columbians.

I'm getting organized!


I hope everyone is having a good summer.

I've been working very hard to set-up my Constituency Office and get organized at the Legislature. My goal is to have the office open by Mid August. And the Legislature begins sitting in just over one month, on August the 25th.

As you may know, I was recently appointed the NDP Agriculture Critic!

My passion for food production in British Columbia runs deep and I am so fortunate to have this opportunity. Thank you!

Food has always fascinated me. As long as I can remember, I have loved to prepare it and been intrigued by how it grows...and now I have officially been given the responsibility to fight for it!

Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food movement, once said, “I am a gastronome. No, not the glutton with no sense of restraint whose enjoyment of food is greater the more plentiful and forbidden it is. No, not a fool who is given to the pleasures of the table and indifferent to how the food got there. I like to imagine the hands of the people who grew it, transported it, processed it, and cooked it before it was served to me.”

We are starting to have a renewed awareness about our food and where it comes from. We are starting to see a growing demand for local, clean, safe products. We, as eaters, are a new political force. I strongly believe that we are the key to successful agriculture in British Columbia. Misdirected policy is taking away our choices, but as eaters, we have the power to make sure we go in the right direction.

There has never been a time when politics and food have so dangerously crossed paths.

Demand local food, demand safe food, demand clean food.

I promise you that I will be doing the same.