Now can we talk about the HST?

VICTORIA – Even if movies based on video games aren’t your cup of tea, the recent Disney production Tron: Legacy is notable as a measure of the sophistication of the B.C. motion picture industry.

VICTORIA – Even if movies based on video games aren’t your cup of tea, the recent Disney production Tron: Legacy is notable as a measure of the sophistication of the B.C. motion picture industry.

A showcase of the latest computer-generated 3D effects, including a rendering of actor Jeff Bridges as he looked in the original version 30 years ago, Tron: Legacy was nominated for an Oscar and won several other awards for technical achievement.

The sleek, lighted suits worn by characters were custom-made in the United States at a cost of $22 million, then brought to Vancouver for filming. Due to the vagaries of the old provincial sales tax, Disney had to pay about $1.5 million in PST because they were used here.

A friend in the business tells me this was more of a deterrent to movie production in B.C. than the current weakness of the U.S. dollar. It’s the kind of expensive insult added to the injury of dealing with two different, complicated sales taxes, and it’s one of many unintended business problems fixed by harmonized sales tax.

Despite B.C.’s reputation for movie wizardry, the next Tron might be made somewhere else if the HST is rejected.

Regular readers will know I am an advocate of the HST, and the general trend away from income taxes and towards consumption taxes. But most people I talk to aren’t interested in the economics, except as it relates to their own wallets.

They don’t believe that taxes imposed on business will either be passed on to consumers, or avoided by changing locations. And they are bombarded with bogus arguments in this spring of election fever.

Federal NDP leader Jack Layton is the worst offender. Like his B.C. counterparts, he has run to the front of the anti-HST parade. Unlike the B.C. NDP, Layton knows he will never have to implement his promises in government, so he offers to write off the $1.6 billion transition fund that B.C. has applied to its deficit. In effect, the rest of the provinces would subsidize B.C. for bringing back an archaic sales tax.

That’s not even Layton’s dumbest idea. He’s been wandering the country promising to remove GST from heating bills, a $700 million tax cut that would help the rich as much as the poor. Surely B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix would not approve of such a regressive tax shift.

(Presumably Layton has been briefed by now that B.C.’s portion of the HST doesn’t apply to heating bills, so he won’t confuse us with Ontario any more.)

Dix talks about HST falling on small business. There is an impact on service businesses, notably restaurants, but ask a self-employed person or small business operator if they’d like to go back to administering two different sales taxes.

Quarterly HST rebate cheques went out last week to more than a million B.C. residents at the lowest end of the income scale. Ask those people if they’d like to lose that benefit, a real example of the kind of income equalizing measure that Dix calls his top priority.

Ask a laid-off mill employee if he’d like to go back to work, and pay HST on movies and a dinner out.

• Further to last week’s column about Dix’s plan to raise corporate tax rates, I now regret referring to his program as “Marxism Lite.”

I fell for his strident rhetoric about taxing big corporations. His proposal amounts to raising the tax on corporate net income in excess of $500,000 by a modest two per cent.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com.

Just Posted

Jill Mackenzie carefully replaces books on the shelves at the Houston Public Library. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
District approves annual library grant

Craft kits featured for summer reading club

The tradition of Houston Christian School grads giving Bibles to incoming kindergarten students will take place this year, but outdoors and in a modified fashion. (File photo)
Houston Christian School grad day is June 24

Grads themselves have set tone for the day, says teacher

Scott Richmond will be starting as the new vice principal for HSS and TSE. (Submitted/Houston Today)
Houston gets a new vice principal

Scott Richmond takes over from Dwayne Anderson who moved to Smithers

A Pacific Salmon Foundation grant of $3,000 is going towards the tree plantations. (Cindy Verbeek photo/Houston Today)
550 trees planted in Houston through A Rocha

Houston Christian School students and volunteers help with the tree planting

Currently the Houston station has 16 paramedics, two ambulances and one community paramedic vehicle. (File photo)
Retirement of longtime paramedics worries Houston community

“No loss of service,” assures BC Emergency Health Services

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Most Read