The heart and soul of British Columbia unite to fight the HST : The Vancouver Rally

I have two words for Gordon Campbell and Colin Hansen: Be afraid.

That’s right. You read that right.

Be very afraid men, because in my opinion, the prospect of the HST is the proverbial straw that broke the camels back, and as everyone knows… camels have loooong memories – as do the people of British Columbia.You have both earned the contempt of a good majority in this province, and among them are the very people who voted you in last fall -who, in my experience yesterday, are not afraid to loudly voice their disappointment. I  personally spoke to hundreds of people prior to the rally and each one had the same things to say: NO HST and Enough of Gordon Campbell.

It is an incredibly awe-inspiring sight to see thousands of  people from every walk of life come together united for a common goal, and rest assured, Gordon Campbell has raised the ire in every single voter demographic possible. There were  Indian and Sikh protestors, Philipino and Chinese. The crowd was a sea of colours brought together by one thing : a very focussed and intense desire to fight the Harmonized Sales Tax.

I met average families much like mine,who made the trip by skytrain to show their support. I met seniors, many of whom walked slowly to the rally,but with determination, bent over with age on the support of a cane.Surprisingly, I met quite a few well-heeled Point Grey residents, who were ready to oust the Premier as their own MLA! Right alongside  them were low-income families and singles who are already struggling to make ends meet and simply can’t bear the burden of another expense.

I talked to people with disabilities whose supports have been discontinued, students who fear added costs on already skyrocketing tuitions and supplies, and I  also met business men and women who decry the HST as being in any way beneficial to their livelihoods. ” Its a joke,” said one realtor, ” I’m already having a tough time -the HST is going to kill a lot of home purchases!”

It was interesting to note that although the venue was advertised as being Canada Place, the actual rally was being held at the central plaza outside the new Trade and Convention centre, and there was nothing to indicate this upon my arrival at Waterfront station. After talking to Chris( Delaney- BC Conservatives) it was clear that some signage to direct people to the rally had somehow been removed from the area, and so I volunteered myself to go and stand at Canada Place with another sign to make sure people found their way down to the rally.

To be honest, although the rally was impressive and exciting, I really enjoyed spending the hour prior to it directing people to the venue a block away, and took full advantage of the opportunity to listen to people share their anger surrounding not only the HST, but about  Gordon Campbell in general.  I have to give a big thank you to the three older women who showed up looking for direction to the rally with homemade signs, and immediately helped out when I asked if they would mind directing people over by Waterfront Station. That is what this province is about, stepping up and getting things done, and they answered the call.

And of  course, taking complete advantage of the opportunity, I also  made sure every single person that stopped, knew exactly how much that big blue raindrop  gleaming in full sight of my location cost the public. Everyone shared the opinion that it actually detracted from the harbour and mountain view beyond,and considering how many cuts have been made to programs for children and seniors, that the money alloted for it should have been spent elsewhere.

At noon, I left my sign on a post, and made our way over to the rally main stage area. Bill( Tieleman) introduced me to Mike Farnsworth, and I chatted a bit with Vancouver city councillor David Cadman, and NDP MLA Spencer Herbert. As I gazed out over the crowd before the stage, saw all the faces united by a common cause, I really felt the power of the people. That might sound a little corny, but there is no other way to describe it. It was really a sight to behold, despite what some ridiculous media reports have said.

I won’t get into every speech made  by every single speaker, because I think the gist of the rally was, and is clear. We unite to fight the HST, and work together to do whatever it takes to stop this from happening.  I was really impressed to see so many different political leanings put it all aside in an effort to come together  to fight against the greater common enemy. In fact, there were many political foes, past and present, shaking hands on the main stage yesterdaym and talking behind the scenes.

Bill VanderZalm had the people rising to voice, as did Carol James. Chris Delaney pulled no punches in his speech,speaking with a contagious and rousing passion that incited the crowd to cheers and calls of ” Shame!” and ” Liars!” to the deceitful way the liberals brought in this tax. I found myself completely caught up in the moments, shouting “Hear, Hear!” with everyone else, driving my fist into the air.

Bill Tieleman  also elicited great response from the crowd, and, not having previously seen Bill in this kind of forum, was impressed with the way he spoke: ” I know you are going to be watching this Campbell, so listen in…” And yes, we do all know Campbell would be watching from somewhere, that is what made the day all that more vital.

We heard from the Seniors council, the student associations, business organisations…. and everyone agreed : this tax is going to do nothing for jobs, nothing to assist with incomes and nothing to ease the burdens of the people of BC. What it will do is cost everyone a whole lot more, and mean the difference between eating and living for some people unfortunately. As Bill VanderZalm put it: ” This is a cruel tax…” And, I agree. It really is.

Speaking personally, the day rejuvenated me in a way nothing has since the election last fall. It’s rather disheartening to see someone you know is going to sell off the province bit by bit lie his way into another term, and then turn around and screw the people who voted him in so quickly. It’s like watching a train wreck happen- sometimes there is nothing you can do to stop it no matter how hard you try. But yesterday was not just a rally, it was the beginning of something bigger than anything this province has seen in many, many years.

” The people of BC have two resources at hand, they’re called Initiative, and Recall, and today is the beginning of a much bigger movement…”  The crowd responded with a roar of approval that was deafening. There was no shortage of volunteers signing up to help with the recall initiative, and as VanderZalm wrapped things up after all the speakers had their moments, buckets were passed through the crowd to collect donations for expenses associated with such an effort. Again, no shortage or hesitation of people opening their wallets to help. That, to me, speaks volumes, when people who already are feeling the pinch fork over hard earned dollars so easily.

After the rally, I went over to introduce myself to Carol James. She saw me, smiled warmly as I introduced myself. She grabbed my hands and said: ” Thank you. Thank you so very much- thank you!” She was very earnest  and I shook  my head and told her to keep at it. To be honest, I’m not quite sure whether she was thanking me for making sure people found the rally, or for what I write about on my site, but in the end it doesn’t matter. I told her then that I would planned to join her in the Legislature as an MLA one day, and her eyes widened in excitement. ” REALLY?! How wonderful! This is exciting! ”

We chatted for a brief moment in the crowd and posed for a photo – and I had the surprise of my life last night when part of that moment ended up on Global BC’s coverage on the 6pm news, recorded for posterity – mine at least..  ; ) I’ll forever remember it as the moment I told Carol James she would see me in the Ledge one day…

I’m happy to have been able to be a small part of what promises to be the start of a very historic point in BC history, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m even happier to leave you with the following photo’s. I will be adding more later today, and possibly just uploading them to Flicker so you can see even more.

 Many more photos to come, so many in fact, I’ve created a new gallery page HERE:  https://lailayuile.wordpress.com/fight-the-hst-photo-gallery/  and uploaded some impromptu video footage taken by my lovely assistant, HERE:
If you would like to see your photos here, send them to lailayuile (at) live (dot) com !

13 Comments on “The heart and soul of British Columbia unite to fight the HST : The Vancouver Rally

  1. Wow, great pics Laila! One question though? Where were the local papers in all of this? I was away over the weekend and this morning I see nothing online? No galleries for them?

    Also, do you sell your photo’s, and could I get a copy of one of them?

  2. There you go again, trying to be a reporter. Key word is TRYING. You are not a reporter, nor will you ever be, so just stop with the political shit and go back to blogging about your kids or Dave Gerry or whatever is up your stupid little alley.

    Do you really think anyone cares about this stupid rally? No. That;s why the papers dont give it anything more than small space. Its not news to see a whack of NDPers marching around with signs trying to make themselves look like they actually hold sway in this province.

    Like I said, give it up sweetheart.

  3. It was very nice to meet youin person Laila, after reading your blog for so long!

    And thank you for taking the time to assist our dear friend Wanda in getting to the rally, after we became seperated on the skytrain! As it happens, she got off on the wrong stop and not knowing Vancouver well, became turned about.

    Just ignore that petty fool above. Obviously he does not know anything about which he speaks! I look forward to watching you develop a long career in politics.

  4. Awesome coverage Laila! So nice to meet you yesterday.

    VANDER ZALM INVITES PREMIER, FINANCE MINISTER TO JOIN BRITISH COLUMBIANS IN CALCULATING HST COSTS

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Delta – Fight HST Leader, Bill Vander Zalm, has invited Premier Gordon Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen to fill out an “HST Hit List” together with other British Columbians to help them calculate the real cost of the HST to each person and family.

    At anti-HSTrallies held across BC on Saturday, September 19, the Fight HST group handed out brochures that contained a list of many items previously exempted from Provincial Sales Tax (PST) that will now be subject to the new 7% levy in the HST.

    Vander Zalm is asking newspapers across BC to publish the list for their readers, so they can do their own calculation. The list, prepared by a group calling themselves angryformerbcliberals.ca, contains a wide assortment of items, but still does not cover everything affected.

    “The Finance Minister is going around the province saying we’ve got it wrong, that we’re exaggerating the cost of this to the average family. What people are actually finding when they do the calculation, is that it is even worse than they anticipated originally,” explained Vander Zalm.

    “So to make it fair, we are asking the Premier and his Finance Minister to calculate the cost for themselves and their families. It will give them a chance to either prove their point that it is only a couple of hundred dollars to the average person, or perhaps to see that maybe they have not looked at it as closely as they should have, given that it was their idea,” said Vander Zalm.

    “We think they may be as shocked as many of the taxpayers who have done this have been. Even when you factor in any tax changes or reductions in other areas, it is still a huge hit to the average British Columbian’s pocketbook,” said Vander Zalm.

    -30-

    Supplemental document: HST Hit List

    FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

    Bill Vander Zalm Chris Delaney

    Leader, Fight HST Lead Organizer

    (604) 946-1774 Fight HST

    (604) 942-6265

    (604) 880-4956

  5. Good job on this, Laila.

    Sorry I missed you directing the crowd at Canada Place, but I ran into Spencer Herbert and he told me to walk with him as the venue had been changed.

    Great pics!

  6. Thanks for being there and the great photos.
    Just one question, should you not feel comfortable in answering,don’t. You pick your time.
    You said to Carol James that she would see you in the Legislature one day.
    Are you going to run as a (blank) or independent?

  7. You probably won’t remember me, but we talked yesterday and you took the time to answer our questions about why fighting this tax is so important to young adults like myself and the group I came down with.

    I just wanted to say thank you for being able to explain this to us without being condescending. Your time and sincerity were appreciated, and if I live in your riding during the next election, I would vote for you!

    Thank you for this post, and taking the time to do that as well.

  8. Maybe we could put a message in the teardrop and send it out in the sea and see where it ends up.

  9. Thank you everyone, and please, no thanks. We all have to do our part, right?

    Sorry for the delay in replying, but I spent half of yesterday in meetings.
    Today though, I’ve been thinking I must be insane, because I read Vaughn Palmer, and Keith Baldreys reports on the ” weak turnout” and under attended Vancouver Rally???

    Wow. I had no idea it was such a failure.

    Someone please explain to me why it is perfectly ok formedia pundits to crap all over bloggers and freelancers for our alleged incorrect reporting… and then go ahead and publish total bloody garbage like that when some of these people failed to even attend the event and are therefore completely unable to throw about insults based on second hand, erroneous information.

    This news 1130 report is the worst of them, with CKNW following.
    News 1130 report : “hundreds attended rally” – pure garbage. Come look at my photos – where did you get your information from?
    http://www.news1130.com/news/local/more.jsp?content=20090919_185804_6860

    Its enough of a journalistic boo-boo for a paid reporter to misjudge numbers like this, or to report from an event at the beginning or the end and make the assumption that is as good as it got.

    But for two respected columnists/reporters to undertake to write such blatant mistruths is to me, a serious bit of business- especially when they are doing so using the erroneous information of other reporters who they may not even know or trust in judgement.

    I was there, as was Bill Tieleman and a few thousand others. You can lie in a paper, or on the radio, but these photos dont lie.

    Vaughn Palmer went as far as to say the following:

    “The headliner at the Vancouver rally, former premier Bill Vander Zalm, professed to be addressing a crowd of 4,000 to 5,000, but that, more than anything, demonstrated his intermittent grip on reality.”

    Intermittent grip on reality? I guess I must be suffering from that same delusional status then, because I saw the same damn thing as the Zalm. And if I were the Zalm, I’d be hitting hard back at Palmer on that one. Perhaps I should send Vaughn some of my photos showing every single angle.( I cant post them all here due to space limitations)

    Less than a thousand people? Vaugh Palmer alleging that the Zalm has an intermittant grip on reality ?

    That’s a little rich, if you ask me – even for just a columnist.

  10. It is crap Laila, and we all know it. Not sure what Vaughn Palmer and Keith Baldrey’s agendas are, but really, who cares? We have gotten this far without the MSM and we will go all the way without them. We have the people, and we have SOCIAL MEDIA. Today, we even got a mention in the New York Times. Maybe Canwest will cover the story now that they have 🙂
    P.S. We signed up over 500 volunteers on Saturday in Vancouver and several hundred more around the province. Things are looking good! And they can say the anger is dissipating all they want. It isn’t. No one should be discouraged. Every single one of the rallies was a resounding success. Let’s carry on!! As you said at the beginning of your article – Campbell and Hansen – be afraid.

  11. As a senior, on a below poverty level and living alone, the HST, will cause me to be homeless. I have set my furnace at 12c, in the north, heat bills are very high. I only have one light on, I launder my clothes in cold water, and hang them up to dry. I buy no meat. My car was sold long ago, I couldn’t afford the high gas prices, nor the insurance. I used the money to pay up my utility bills and paid my credit card out, I cut the card up now. As a senior who has no tax write offs, you still have to pay income tax, and I am behind. CRA made three errors, that were caught, but are forcing me to pay for their mistake. I took it all to the MLA, to see if they can sort it out. All, I got from them were lie and deny. So, the only way for a senior to cut back is food and utilities. As I am bare bones now, I can’t make it through the HST. I doubt if my house will sell, as every third person, is laid off. CRA, said they are going to seize my house, and belongings, and my pension. I hope they take the house, if I lose my pension, I have no idea what I would do. I still have to make payments on my house to the mortgage company.

  12. Lil, If you can email me that information about what is going on with the CRA, I’d be interested in seeing if there is anything I can do to assist you, ok? There may be someone I can refer you to. Be well and thank you for sharing. It’s not right for seniors to take the brunt.