BC: No TransLink Tax Campaign Calls for Ballot, Spending Fairness
VANCOUVER, B.C.: The No TransLink Tax campaign today called on Premier Christy Clark and the provincial cabinet to ensure a fair voting process in next spring’s TransLink tax referendum.
No TransLink Tax, formed to fight off the TransLink Mayors’ proposed $258 per household sales tax hike, has made several recommendations to cabinet. Under Bill 23 (SCBCTA Funding Referenda Act), it’s up to Cabinet to set rules and ensure fairness.
While No TransLink Tax has no issue with the ballot question itself, it called on cabinet to move the TransLink Mayors’ 170-word preamble off the official voting ballot. Instead, both the pro-TransLink and No TransLink Tax sides should be given equal space and prominence to make their case within the official Elections B.C. referendum material – but not on the ballot itself.
“Ballots in responsible democracies should be succinct and non-partisan, not push polls,” said No TransLink Tax spokesperson Jordan Bateman. “The TransLink Mayors shouldn’t need the ballot itself to somehow convince people to support their tax hike. This isn’t some dictatorship, where we run elections with predetermined outcomes.”
TransLink has been rumoured to have a $4 million, taxpayer-funded war chest, an amount TransLink Mayors chairman Richard Walton wouldn’t confirm or deny. No TransLink Tax believes no tax money should be used to campaign in this referendum.
“Financial support should come from voluntary donors, not taxpayers through government agencies,” said Bateman.
The No TransLink Tax campaign is recommending that cabinet forbid TransLink from spending money to get a Yes vote, and that all of TransLink’s advertising and communications during the campaign be vetted by the Auditor General for Local Government for fairness before going out.
Finally, the No TransLink Tax campaign is calling for the same approval threshold as the Recall and Initiative Act – requiring both a simple majority of voters region-wide and a simple majority of voters in 16 of 23 TransLink voting areas (21 municipalities plus Tsawwassen First Nation and Electoral Area A).
“No one large city should overwhelm the votes of people in smaller municipalities across the region,” said Bateman. “A common complaint against TransLink is that it is already too focused on a handful of big cities. This will force both sides to make their case in every municipality in the region.”
The No TransLink Tax campaign has sent these concerns to every member of cabinet, and is encouraging those concerned about democratic fairness to email their support for these recommendations through www.notranslinktax.ca.