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A new poll released Thursday suggests the B.C. Liberals are continuing to lose support, and that many residents have either signed petitions against the harmonized sales tax or plan to do so.

The unpopular 12-per-cent tax, which comes into effect on July 1, has been seen as a major challenge for the Liberal government, which introduced the plan after winning a majority in the last provincial election a year ago this month.

"After July 1, the question is whether anger will subside or grow," said Evi Mustel whose Mustel Group Market Research did the poll.

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Ms. Mustel said the HST is clearly at the root of current Liberal troubles, and the key question now is whether the tax will be an issue in 2013 when the next provincial election is to be held.

"It's so hard to predict. In three years, there could be so much change on the [political]scene," she said.

According to the survey, the Liberals are at 32 per cent support, compared to 35 per cent in the last Mustel Group poll conducted in November.

That's a decline from 46 per cent for the Liberals in the last B.C. election.

Meanwhile NDP support has increased one point to 44 per cent from the last Mustel poll. And the B.C. Conservative Party, which does not have any members in the legislature, is at 7 per cent. The Green Party is at 13 per cent.

Premier Gordon Campbell's performance rating has declined since the last November measure, with 61 per cent disapproving and 28 per cent approving.

The same survey finds that taxes and the HST are the prime issue of concern among respondents, including Liberals, and that 29 per cent have either signed the HST petition while 44 per cent plan to do so if given the opportunity.

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The proportion of those who have signed already is higher in communities outside Metro Vancouver - 38 per cent - than in the city - 22 per cent.

The petition is part of an organized effort, using provisions of the provincial Recall and Initiative Act to gather the signatures of 10 per cent of voters in the province's 85 ridings.

Meeting that threshold would compel the government to either repeal the tax or hold a non-binding referendum on it.

The survey was conducted from May 6-16. It involved a random telephone sample of 500 adults, and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 4.5 per cent at the 95 per cent con

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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