VANCOUVER The B.C. Liberals are trying to silence one of the few media voices that has consistently criticized the provincial government by saddling the Georgia Straight with a $1 million tax bill, says CUPE BC in calling for a public enquiry.
On the flimsiest of arguments, the Liberals are trying to muzzle the Straight, said acting CUPE BC president Mark Hancock. Its ridiculous to argue that the weekly doesnt have the required 25 per cent editorial content.
There needs to be a full public enquiry into why the government is doing this and what grounds it has to do it.
Provincial Revenue Minister Bill Barisoff claims that the newspapers extensive arts and cultural listings do not count as editorial content and therefore the paper is not exempt from taxes on printing.
By whose rules? asked Hancock. About 90 per cent of the newspapers in the province could be called to account on that issue. It sounds like some edict drummed up by Barisoffs bureaucrats.
Straight columnists Bill Tieleman and Charlie Smith are among the few who dare to question the Campbell Liberals policies. They challenge government positions that are not in the best interest of citizens.
This contemptible government action is aimed at stifling these and other commentators, Hancock said. When a government undermines the democratic right of media to comment freely on government actions and policies, it is stooping to a shameful new low point. It must be stopped.
Contact: Ron Verzuh
604-291-1940 or 828-7668 (cell).