HST phone forums get underway

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom

The B.C. government’s outreach on the harmonized sales tax gets underway tonight with telephone town hall meetings for Surrey and the Peace River region, the first of a series of regional forums that aims to ring every listed home phone in B.C.

The first forum was set for Tuesday evening in the southern coast and northern Vancouver Island, but it was postponed because of the Vancouver Canucks playoff game. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, who will take questions at the Surrey forum starting at 7:15 tonight, said further changes may be made to avoid calling people during Canucks games.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom is in the hotseat for tonight’s forum in the Peace River region, his home base. Lekstrom has been given a high profile in the government’s HST effort since returning to the B.C. Liberal caucus after quitting last year due to his constituents’ protests over the introduction of the HST.

Lekstrom said Wednesday he expects to get questions about the workings of the HST, and also some of the objections that have battered the B.C. Liberal government since the tax was introduced.

But after people have lived with the HST for nearly 10 months, Lekstrom said he is more optimistic it will be supported in a mail-in referendum set to begin in mid-June. He credits Premier Christy Clark’s effort to give the public a say.

“The willingness to go out and engage the public in these telephone town hall meetings, the opportunity to have their views heard, is exactly what should have happened 18 months ago,” Lekstrom said.

Lekstrom and Falcon will be sharing the telephone town hall duties until all regions have had a turn. People with listed home phones will hear a recorded message inviting them to participate, followed by instructions to ask a question. If they don’t want to take part, they can hang up.

Subject to change as the Vancouver Canucks playoff run continues, the schedule is as follows:

Peace River region, tonight, 6:30 p.m.

Surrey, tonight, 7:15 p.m.

Kootenay, April 28, 6:30 p.m. (7:30 Mountain time)

Richmond-South Delta and North Shore, April 28, 7:15 p.m.

Southern Interior, May 3, 6:45 p.m.

Victoria, May 3, 7:15 p.m.

Northern Interior and North Coast, May 4, 6:45 p.m.

Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster, Coquitlam, May 4, 7:15 p.m.

Okanagan, May 9, 6:45 p.m.

Fraser Valley, May 9, 7:15 p.m.

Vancouver, May 12, 6:45 p.m.

Calls for May 3, 4, 9 and 12 may be moved due to Canucks games. Updates can be found here.

Just Posted

Mt. Waddington’s Salvation Army releases eye-opening statistics report for 2017

Shelter overnight stays saw a 431 per cent increase since 2014.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

Port Hardy Fire Rescue’s third quarterly report of 2018

PHFR had 13 practice nights and 11 other training events this quarter.

VIDEOS: North Island Mall continues to thrive with local events, shops opening up

The Diroms continue their hard work as the North Island Mall revitalizes.

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Kuhnhackl scores 2 odd goals as Isles dump Canucks 5-2

Vancouver drops second game in two nights

Student arrested at Vancouver Island elementary school

Pupils never in danger, incident unrelated to the school

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Most Read