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:  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 !