The Selinger government is into its 17th day of collecting a new, higher retail sales tax, yet the public debate over the controversial move continues.
This morning, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation delivered a petition with the names of more than 8,000 signatures protesting the PST hike to Premier Greg Selinger’s office.
"Plain and simple, we needed to hold him (Selinger) accountable for breaking his promise and raising the sales tax," CTF Prairie director Colin Craig said. He was flanked by Opposition MLAs, who also continue to denounce the government for increasing the sales tax to eight per cent on July 1 without a provincial referendum.
The taxpayers federation’s petition was mainly gathered online. However, Craig said several Manitobans contacted the CTF to lend a hand by delivering flyers promoting it or taking a paper copy of the petition and gathering signatures.
Bill 20, which would allow the government to raise the PST without a public referendum, is still stuck in the Manitoba legislature, three months after it was introduced. It has yet to receive third reading.
The bill would remove the need for a referendum before raising major taxes. The requirement was put in place by the Filmon Conservatives in the 1990s.
Brandon MLA Reg Helwer, one of several Progressive Conservative legislators who joined Craig for a news conference in front of the Legislative Building, said his party still hopes the Selinger government will change its mind and hold a public plebiscite on the tax increase.
"We hope that they will see the light and listen to Manitobans as opposed to continue to force their way into the pocket books of every Manitoban," Helwer said.
Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard congratulated the thousands of Manitobans who signed the petition for exercising their democratic rights.
"To have this expression of popular opinion — 8,000 people — speaks volumes," he said.