The B.C. finance minister and the Christy Clark government have an opportunity to demonstrate exceptional leadership by modifying the HST referendum ballot.
Rather than only including the present wording, the ballot could include four additional choices and a rank-order preference system that would give voters a chance to more fully express their ideas in a democratic way.
For example, the ballot could include the following options:
1) Retain the 12 per cent HST system (the status quo);
2) Eliminate the HST and return to the previous system of GST/PST combination and exempt those industries that were previously exempt (the system that was in force before the HST);
3) Retain the 12 per cent HST system and exempt specific industries that were exempt under the previous GST/PST system;
4) Retain the 12 per cent HST system and exempt all local, small businesses for a period of three years; and
5) Retain the current HST system, but reduce the amount of tax to 10 per cent.
Voters could rank order their choices and return the ballot for enumeration by Elections B.C.
Voters who only wanted certain choices would only have to mail back their particular choices, ranking each for preference.