British Columbia Premier Resigns

By Beacon Staff

The Vancouver Sun reports today that British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell is resigning his post as head of the province’s government. The move, apparently, comes in the wake of plummeting public approval after he led the implementation of something called a “harmonized sales tax.” Now, I’ve been called many things, but no one has yet called me an expert on Canadian tax policy. So a quick search on Wikipedia reveals the HST as a kind of value-added tax that adds a 7-percent provincial tax to a long list of household consumer goods, ranging from newspapers (outrage!) to ski lift passes (double-outrage!). The sales tax took effect in July and appears to be hitting consumers hard.

Campbell is notable in Montana for signing the historic Memorandum of Understanding with Gov. Brian Schweitzer effectively banning mining and gas drilling in the upper reaches of the Flathead River watershed that extend north into southeastern B.C. I interviewed Campbell on the agreement in July. It’s unclear how Campbell’s resignation could affect the MOU, but it seems the agreement is intended to outlast the terms of Campbell and Schweitzer, so initially I’ll speculate that it won’t impact the MOU all that much – though that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be overturned at some point in the future.

It’s also worth noting that as premier, Campbell was the head of his party, not a popularly elected chief executive, which makes his stepping down not really analogous to a governor in the U.S. doing the same thing. His party will now select a new leader.