“Scrap the Speculation Tax” coalition turns to big tobacco and asbestos PR firm

By ThinkPol Staff

The umbrella group campaigning to repeal the Speculation Tax introduced by British Columbia’s NDP government has enlisted the help of a controversial global public relations firm that gained notoriety for promoting big tobacco and asbestos industry interests.

The group behind the Stop BC’s Speculation Tax petition[1]https://www.change.org/p/british-columbia-government-stop-bc-s-speculation-tax joined forces with chambers of commerce, industry groups representing tourism and construction, and development industry lobbyists to launch Scrap the Speculation Tax campaign[re]http://scrapthespeculationtax.ca[/ref].

The domain name registration for the group’s website scrapthespeculationtax.ca shows Hill+Knowlton Strategies as the domain registrant[2]https://who.is/whois/scrapthespeculationtax.ca.

Hill+Knowlton Strategies became infamous for running campaigns to promote the interests of the tobacco industry[3]https://www.alternet.org/story/50359/how_a_pr_firm_helped_establish_america%27s_cigarette_century and asbestos industry[4]https://cprlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/AIA-Article-AJPH.pdf among many other controversial clients.

Interestingly, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, who’s a strident critic of the Speculation Tax[5]http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/speculation-tax-kelowna-forum-1.4588539, has acted for multinational tobacco companies against the BC government, as the province sought to recover billions of dollars spent out of the public health-care budget to treat people with smoking-related diseases such as emphysema and lung cancer[6]https://thinkpol.ca/2018/02/05/bc-liberal-leader-batted-big-tobacco-bc/.

An Insights West poll[7] found that more than four-in-five (81%) British Columbians believe support the speculation tax targeting vacant homes whose homeowners pay no income tax in BC[7]https://insightswest.com/news/british-columbians-welcome-budget-proposals-on-real-estate/.

The tax rate is set at 0.5% of the property’s assessed value for this year, but will rise to 2% next year for foreign nationals and satellite families and 1% for Canadians who don’t reside in British Columbia[8]https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/taxes/property-taxes/publications/is-2018-001-speculation-tax.pdf.

References   [ + ]

1. https://www.change.org/p/british-columbia-government-stop-bc-s-speculation-tax
2. https://who.is/whois/scrapthespeculationtax.ca
3. https://www.alternet.org/story/50359/how_a_pr_firm_helped_establish_america%27s_cigarette_century
4. https://cprlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/AIA-Article-AJPH.pdf
5. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/speculation-tax-kelowna-forum-1.4588539
6. https://thinkpol.ca/2018/02/05/bc-liberal-leader-batted-big-tobacco-bc/
7. https://insightswest.com/news/british-columbians-welcome-budget-proposals-on-real-estate/
8. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/taxes/property-taxes/publications/is-2018-001-speculation-tax.pdf

14 Responses to “Scrap the Speculation Tax” coalition turns to big tobacco and asbestos PR firm

  1. Ted cruz says:

    This goes to show you that these people dont care and have no regard or respect for anyone or anything but money. What they are saying is, we could not give a crap about your kids or their future or families that are struggling or the fact that all these homes are vacant, they just want to keep their investors and gravy train rolling. No care for decency or just doing the right thing.

    Folks, vote anyone associated with these feces out of office and let everyone know, get on the phones and dont relent, this city belongs to families not scumvestors.

  2. brett smith says:

    pigs at the trough know no shame.

  3. Just Angry says:

    Corruption! Corruption! Corruption! You know the Speculation Tax is working and addressing the truth when Hill+Knowlton Strategies is hired!

    In the 1970s, the company co-founded Asbestos Information Association, which by denying health risks of asbestos is responsible for thousands of lost lives.

    So they going run ads “Stop the Speculation Tax” and denying local shelters/homes in which all BC voter lives are at stake. They are going get so dirty. This company lies and destroy lives as long they get the money.

  4. John Hill says:

    The Asbestos industry only? Oh yeah, what about the tobacco industry?

    John Hill, the founder of the public relations giant Hill+Knowlton, created the “A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers” for the tobacco industry. They paid to have it published in 448 newspapers on January 4, 1954.

    Since the “Frank Statement,” approximately 16 million Americans have died from smoking, and millions more have suffered from debilitating diseases ranging from emphysema to heart disease. Had the industry come clean in 1954, many of these deaths would almost certainly have been prevented. No one knows how many.

  5. nonconfidencevote says:

    Now that the Speculation Tax has been implemented and we are seeing housing sales and prices drop……
    What politician wants to commit political suicide by scrapping the Spec Tax?

    Only the Liberals know for sure……

    P.S. Where IS Christy Clark hiding these days…i know toads hibernate in the muck but I’ve been flipping slime covered rocks over on the Fraser River beaches by the Annacis Island Sewage Treatment plant…..and I’ve yet to find her…..

    • klargenf says:

      Now that the Speculation Tax has been implemented and we are seeing housing sales and prices drop…



      Well… the fact is this tax has not become law yet. It still has to go through the debates and voting this September. And with such a narrow majority for the NDP and Green parties combined, anything could happen. Hopefully our MLAs won’t be bought out by developpers and change their mind. I can’t wait until September to see how things work out.

      • Ted cruz says:

        My understanding is, under the charter by-law vancouver has implemented the 1% empty home tax which is a by-law. The rest of BC will get charged the speculation tax and that will become law in September if it passes.
        Someone correct me if i am wrong.

      • Just Cite Rule 18 Standing Orders says:

        Hopefully, when the debates and voting take place, supposedly in October when the House reconvenes after a four-month summer break, only one MLA needs to raise a ‘point of order’ and cite Rule 18 of the govt’s Standing Orders, where “No member is entitled to vote upon any question in which he or she has a direct pecuniary interest, and the vote of any Member so interested shall be disallowed.” Pecuniary means monetary. In light of the MLA disclosure statements (https://thetyee.ca/News/2018/01/29/MLA-Disclosures-Online-Again/), for each of the 87 members of the BC Legislature, including Speaker Darryl Plecas, there are approx 25 MLAs who have properties in BC that are not their primary residence, located within the current boundaries of the speculation tax. If Rule 18 is properly cited by an MLA to the Speaker of the House, and approx 25 votes are disallowed, then there is a good chance that the speculation tax could fail because the vote would result in more NAYs than YAYs.

  6. Heart broken says:

    Such crap, Christy should be in jail. Can’t wait years and years to see if house prices will come down 10% or so. Good bye lower mainland, I had a great 35 years.

    • Ted Cruz says:

      Sad to hear but change can only happen when we speak up and expose them. Prices have fallen more than 10% and continue to fall.
      There are many politicians that should be investigated and action taken. I have never been involved with politics and the sell off of our city up until a few years ago. Good luck.

  7. Captain Marvin Bachman says:

    It appears to me that the majority of the speculation is coming from local developers/Canadians and most likely realtors who are trying to get all the “FOREIGNERS” to leave.
    You really think just because I am a so-called foreigner that after living here 17 years now I am a speculator?
    I could possibly see this if you put say a five year moratorium on selling after owning. But then, that would expose the truth which in reality is a money grab and a push against your bigotry/hypocrisy of anyone other than the “TRUE CANADIAN.

    • Ted cruz says:

      You must be out of your bloody mind- “it appears” the issue is from locals? Can you provide the source? The cash that has entered BC is from overseas, either from foreigners themselves or cash sent to locals to facilitate the purchases, have you heard of the latest court filings and lawsuits?
      Do you understand that home prices have dropped 20% and continue to drop- and homes are not selling. The reason is because restrictions have been put on overseas cash, taxes on foreigners and foreigners do not like the current government. Take a guess why recently seattle and montreal home prices are rising, it is because of foreigners.

      Anyways, i really don’t understand your argument or your conclusion, you just dont make any sense. Throwing words around certainly does not make you an expert in anything let alone a real estate expert.

      You failed, please try again later.

    • nonconfidencevote says:

      Capt James T Bachman
      So you’ve lived here 17 years and still havent changed your citizenship?
      Whats up wid dat?
      Or do you own a home that sits empty for months at a time in Vancouver? Whistler?
      While the locals cant find affordable housing? Or pay exorbitant rent?
      Voters that are willing to toss out every politician because of housing issues?
      And you’re moaning about tax increases brought on by politicians that ALWAYS look for the easiest “target” ie Non resident, non eligable voters.
      Dont blame the people, blame the knee jerk politicians that allowed this ponzi mess to perpetuate far, far far too long.

  8. nonconfidencevote says:

    Hey! Whats up with the late breaking expose about “Foreign Drugs and money laundering” ?
    Apparently a HUGE impact on BC real estate.

    Time to start seizing houses and condos owned by foriegn companies/individuals that cant explain how they paid CASH for a $1, $2, or $5 million dollar house?

    Quite a Liberal Legacy.
    Well done Christy Clarke for turning a blind eye to it all.
    Thank God she wasnt re-elected.

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