B.C. Chamber to press for new-tax consultation from province

Mike Youds / Kamloops Daily News
May 25, 2012 01:00 AM

B.C. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed a local resolution calling on the provincial government to consult first before enacting new taxation policy.

Such a precaution might have prevented the HST fiasco that shook the Liberal government, triggered a referendum and led to the resignation of former premier Gordon Campbell. It could have also spared the public the pain of several years of back-and-forth tax measures.

The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce resolution was easily passed Friday at the B.C. chamber's annual general meeting in Penticton.

"That sailed through," said Peter Aylen, past president of the local chamber. "There wouldn't have been the HST thing if that had been in place."

The initiative was among five Kamloops resolutions proposed at the AGM, four of which passed with majority support. A fifth resolution, calling for increased legal-aid funding in the province, failed by just 20 votes.

Without legal aid, many more people are choosing to represent themselves in court, putting an added strain on court resources, Aylen said.

The local chamber also submitted a resolution calling on the province to review its carbon tax, a move already promised by Finance Minister Kevin Falcon. When it was introduced, the tax was touted as a tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2020. B.C. was seen as a world leader for implementing the tax, but other jurisdictions haven't followed suit.

As of July 1, it adds 6.67 cents to the cost of a litre of gasoline, but represents half the cost of natural gas, Aylen said.

"People don't realize that, and it's a cascading tax - it's built into everything."

A surprising number of chamber delegates wanted a resolution pressing the government to simply scrap the carbon tax, he said.

Two additional resolutions from local members also passed. The provincial government will be asked to consider levying a fee for human rights complaints, the idea being to discourage the volume of frivolous claims being made.

As well, chamber delegates endorsed a resolution calling for the Wood First Act to be repealed. The 2009 legislation requires that wood be the material of choice in all provincially funded building projects.

The resolution was brought forward in co-operation with ready-mix concrete businesses, Aylen noted.

"We should be choosing the best material for whatever is required. We shouldn't be forcing one material over another through legislation."

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