The provincial government held the first of its over-the-phone town hall meetings last week about the upcoming HST referendum and up to 27,000 in British Columbians participated.
Before the election, MP Nathan Cullen held a similar kind of phone town hall meeting and it appears the system is now being used by the Liberals to make their case for keeping the HST.
The town hall meeting for Prince Rupert and the rest of the north coast and interior will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4. The government will be calling every listed number in the region and those who want to participate will need to listen to the automated message’s instructions, and those who don’t can simply hang up the phone.
Finance Minister Kevin Falcon and Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom will be taking questions about the HST from participants, however moderators have to hear the question beforehand and put participants in a que to wait their turn. That doesn’t mean the ministers will be shielded from those who are opposed to the HST, one caller from northeast BC called the HST a “rip-off tax” and other callers complained about the damage done to their competitiveness with Alberta.
North Coast MLA Gary coons say that the town halls amount to little more than a propaganda exercise.
“I see it as just a propaganda campaign on how a two-billion dollar tax shift ends up on consumers and trying to make it into a good news story,” said Coons
“Basically, it’s a last ditch effort to continue the deception of the HST by this government.”
Coons says the Liberals are trying to interfere in the “people’s referendum” and are spending a so far unknown amount of money to do it.
Coons won’t go as far as to tell voters that they shouldn’t participate but says they should know what the purpose behind the town halls really is.