Friday, May 27, 2011

HST on bikes shows government is back-pedaling!

Here is a question that I asked Kevin Falcon, the deputy Premier and Minister of Finance today in the Legislature.

For more than thirty years, bikes (and bike expenses like repairs, helmets and locks) were 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 and Saanich South MLA 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 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?

And now, after increasing the cost of cycling by 7%, does the government really believe British Columbians are going to fall for a promise to reduce that tax hike by 1 % in a year, and another 1% a year later? Let's not forget that we were promised in writing during the last election that a HST would not be introduced.

Only two months ago, Premier Clark ruled out reducing the HST rate, saying 'I think people will see that as buying them with their own money,' yet here she is, doing exactly that.

We need a different approach. I believe we should be creating 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.

A government that increases taxes on green transportation is a government traveling in the wrong direction. Please show your support by joining our 'Squeaky Wheels Get the Grease' facebook group: