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PST hearings draw crowd on muggy Saturday

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Allan Ciekiewicz (centre) speaks at the PST hearing at the Manitoba Legislative building Saturday.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Allan Ciekiewicz (centre) speaks at the PST hearing at the Manitoba Legislative building Saturday. Photo Store

It's likely the PST hearings will wrap up at legislature today, but the mood is just as heated this weekend as it was all week.

One person after another rose to tell the NDP they blew it by raising the provincial sales tax without putting the measure to a public vote first. It’s a refrain the committee of government and opposition members has heard in stereo every day hearings have been held.

Some 59 people registered to deliver their discontent and by mid morning 23 of them were seated and waiting their turn in the stuffy committee room, despite the heat.

Typical of the comments this morning was a remark by Winnipeg financial analyst Romel Dhalla:

"If the government feels it's really doing the right thing, they should put it before the public for a vote."

While most of this morning's presenters made no mention of a personal relationship with any of the cabinet ministers and Opposition MLAs, Dhalla stood out by introducing his remarks with a statement on the record that he did know many of them, at least socially. He made his comment after first thanking members of the all-party committee for attending his recent wedding.

In the spring budget, the NDP imposed a one per cent increase in the provincial sales taxes, despite promises to put tax increase to a public vote first. The hearings into Bill 20 have heard from scores of voters angered at the way the tax was imposed.

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