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Horgan rebukes BC Liberal pledge to jettison speculation tax

BC NDP leader on the campaign trail in Terrace
BC NDP leader John Horgan | B.C. government

BC NDP leader John Horgan took a swipe at his main opponent’s pledge to eliminate the province’s speculation tax Saturday (September 26) while on the campaign trail in Terrace.

“Now that tax has no impact in this region, it's not effective here,” Horgan said, referring to the northwestern B.C. community. 

“It's designed to make sure we don't have empty houses and empty condominium buildings in the Lower Mainland largely, and in Kelowna and Victoria, in our major urban centers. It was a tax on people who do not live here. It affects less than 1% of British Columbians, and the BC Liberals want to eliminate it, so they can give money back to people who don't live here, rather than invest in people who do.”

The tax was introduced in 2018 to address the ongoing affordability crisis in the province’s major urban centres where real estate has been subject to speculation and allegedly used for laundering illegal funds.

The 2% tax, which is applied to property owned by foreigners or so-called satellite families in B.C., has generated $115 million in revenue towards affordable housing projects throughout the province.

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson on Friday pledged to do away with the tax.

Instead, he’s proposing it would be replaced by a capital gains tax for condo presales to stem off the potential for flipping.

Meanwhile, Horgan was pressed during a media briefing on why he called a snap election during a pandemic and whether recent election results in New Brunswick influenced him to request the B.C. legislature be dissolved.

The snap election in New Brunswick saw the province's Progressive Conservatives secure a majority government in September following two years of minority governance.

“Well, I didn't consider that at all, but frankly I'm always focused on the people of B.C. and how I can work with other provinces as we have been collaboratively over the past number and months, and with the federal government to make sure that we're doing the best we can here in B.C.,” Horgan said.

“At the end of the day my singular focus is on the well-being of British Columbians, and on the recovery. That includes everybody and I made my decisions based on what I thought was in the best interest of British Columbia.”

Wilkinson is expected to speak at a virtual rally Saturday afternoon, while BC NDP Vancouver-Fairview MLA candidate George Heyman is expected to hold an event earlier in the day in Vancouver. 

—With a file from Jeremy Hainsworth

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