Manitobans had a chance to vent their anger over the government’s planned PST hike this evening as public hearings got underway on Bill 20 at the Legislative Building.
And they didn’t pull any punches.
"You assured voters that you could balance the budget without raising the taxes. You lied," said William Pfeiffer of Ste. Adolphe.
Pfeiffer said the Conservatives were more honest during the 2011 election campaign about how long it would take the government to balance the books without a tax hike.
"You were outright dishonest," he told the government MLAs sitting on the committee, adding that they owed Manitobans an apology.
About 50 people attended the first public hearing by on the bill, which would allow the government to raise the retail sales tax without holding a referendum of voters. Thirty Manitobans were scheduled to make presentations the first evening. More than two hours into the session, nobody was backing the tax hike.
Eric Pollman, a 43-year-old stay-at-home dad, said raising the PST will make it more difficult for his family to pay the bills.
He said the NDP has significantly raised taxes the past two budgets and their reasons for raising the PST —to fix roads and mitigate flooding — aren’t washing with Manitobans.
"You’ve been in power for how long and you didn’t see this coming?" he exclaimed. "Everybody knows concrete gets old; everybody knows rivers swell. This is part of living here."
Regan Archambault, who runs a real estate firm with her husband, said the PST hike could cost her business thousands of dollars. She said when added on to other recent government tax increases, it will make it more burdensome for first-time buyers to afford a home.
Archambault, like most presenters, said they were upset that the governing NDP had broken their word about raising taxes, and she admonished the government for failing to live within its means.
"If I ran my household the way this government is running our provincial purse strings I’d be bankrupt and lose everything," she said.