B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson unveiled his latest crop of local candidates at a campaign stop in Port Moody Wednesday, where he reiterated his promise to cut provincial sales taxes in a bid to re-claim the riding.
At Uptown Dog in PoMo, Wilkinson re-pledged his party’s commitment to eliminate the provincial sales tax for a full year and bring it back at 3% the following year until the economy has recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Provincial sales tax is a huge cost for small business,” said Wilkinson, noting that businesses have to pay provincial sales taxes on all “inputs,” including vehicles and utilities, which can amount to thousands of dollars.
Local restaurateurs would also benefit, he said, because alcohol costs would be reduced.
“To take the small business to the point where it can survive is our purpose for taking provincial sales taxes down for a year,” Wilkinson said.
The break on provincial sales tax was welcome news for Port Moody-Coquitlam candidate James Robertson, who said it will help families and businesses.
The BC Liberals estimate that a family of four, earning $60,000 per parent, will save $1,714 in the first year, followed by an additional $979 in the second year.
At a cost of about $7 billion in lost revenue in the first year, according to budget figures, and roundly criticized by the BC NDP’s John Horgan and the BC Greens’ Sonia Furstenau, the policy was mentioned by Robertson as important to help families recover from the pandemic.
“Families are at the heart of our community,” Robertson said. “In the Tri-Cities, many have been dramatically impacted by the pandemic.”
Robertson, a leadership coach, management consultant, and retired Canadian armed forces veteran, is pitting his experience against the NDP’s Rick Glumac, who is the incumbent in the riding and has a profile as a former Port Moody councillor.
For the BC Liberals, the hope is that Robertson can unseat Glumac in the riding held in 2013-2017 by Linda Reimer, and reclaim the riding in their column.
In addition to providing a photo opportunity for Robertson, the campaign stop was a chance to reveal two new Tri-City candidates. Mehran Zargham, a project manager at BC Ferries, is running in the Port Coquitlam riding against NDP candidate Mike Farnworth, and Will Davis, a consultant and former comedian, is running against NDP candidate Selina Robinson in Coquitlam-Maillardville.
Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Joan Isaacs, who is seeking re-election, also attended the campaign event.
Port Moody-Coquitlam is not the only local riding shaping up to be a battle ground. Isaacs' riding is also supposed to be a close race against opponent and NDP candidate Fin Donnelly.