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Pallister pushes again on raising tax exemption

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Tory Leader Brian Pallister wasted no time Tuesday condemning the NDP for what he labelled its "boot-on-the back" tax policies.

Leading off his first question as opposition leader in the Manitoba legislature, Pallister again called on the Selinger government to immediately raise the basic personal tax exemption -- the amount at which people start paying income taxes -- to put more cash in Manitobans' pockets.

The Progressive Conservatives said last month the basic exemption should rise from $8,634 to the Canadian average of $10,617, a move that would save every Manitoban about $200 a year and save a lower-income couples $400 a year.

The NDP say that would rob the provincial treasury of $140 million—a move that would not help the province climb out of deficit.

Pallister also said the NDP’s new "tax whack" on haircuts over $50 and some insurance products hurt seniors and students, and are to blame for Manitobans being the biggest users of foodbanks in the country.

Premier Greg Selinger said the NDP has increased the basic personal exemption by about 25 per cent since Pallister was an MLA under former premier Gary Filmon.

"When he was last in office and thought things were great the personal exemption was $7,231," Selinger said, adding the NDP have also ushered in other tax measures to make the province one of the most affordable to live.

Pallister also said the NDP put too much focus on IKEA arriving in the city in Monday’s throne speech than making an effort to help the city’s poor.

"For heaven’s sake, they spent more time talking about shopping opportunities at IKEA than they did about the over 60,000 Manitobans that had to use foodbanks," Pallister told reporters. "Get your priorities straight. This is not about Marie Antoinette. This is about real situations that are facing real people in our province."

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