Court fight against HST begins with a revolutionary flourish

Posted by Rumin Mann
August 29th, 2010

The legal battle over the HST began in B.C. Supreme Court Monday with the declaration that “revolutions have been fought over these issues.”

Representing opponents of the controversial blended federal-provincial levy, renowned Vancouver lawyer Joseph Arvay insisted “democracy, federalism and the rule of law” were on the line.

He asked Chief Justice Robert Bauman to strike down the HST agreement between Ottawa and Victoria, the B.C. cabinet order-in-council that imposed the tax and “let events unfold.”

Arvay said it would take him at least two days to explain why the harmonized tax violates the Constitution and is an example of “taxation without representation” — evoking the very spark of the American Revolution.

The province’s most experienced constitutional expert, owlish, grey-haired George Copley — Victoria’s veteran champion — scribbled notes.

At a third table, former Liberal attorney-general Geoff Plant whispered among the heavyweight team representing big businesses that support the tax and oppose the grassroots campaign to repeal it.

This is a clash of B.C. legal titans over the meaning of Canada’s fundamental law and the separation of powers between the federal government and the provinces.

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