Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 04/19/2013 2:22 PM | Comments: 0
Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said today his party is seeking legal advice on whether a bill that clears the way for the government to raise the PST to eight per cent is in fact legal.
"We have people looking at it now, yeah. We’re very concerned," he told reporters outside the legislature.
Balanced budget legislation enacted by the Filmon Conservatives in the 1990s forbids the introduction of a bill that would boost income taxes or sales taxes without a referendum of Manitoba voters.
Pallister said he preferred today to deal with the "moral" issues surrounding Bill 20 rather than its legality. He said the government broke its word not to raise taxes and then did so. And now it’s failing to let voters have their say on the proposed PST hike, which would bring in $278 million in additional revenues each year.
"I’m not a lawyer. I don’t want to guess (on the bill’s legality)," he said, before admitting that his party is investigating that issue.
The Conservatives have repeatedly called on the government this week to hold a referendum before instituting a one percentage point increase in the PST. Bill 20, introduced on Wednesday, would circumvent the current law requiring a vote.
"We’ll do everything we can on behalf of Manitobans and their future to fight this. We just think it’s fundamentally wrong. It’s going to work against the best interests not only of taxpayers but of our province as a whole," Pallister said.
He would not comment on a potential legal challenge. "We’ll do our research and we’ll come back to you on that."
Finance Minister Stan Struthers deflected questions today about whether the bill would stand up to a legal challenge. Instead he defended the merits of increasing revenues to pay for such needed infrastructure as roads and flood mitigation projects.
"We are very confident the government can put forward legislation that meets the needs of Manitoba families. We are very confident in this legislation."
Asked whether the government had sought legal advice before bringing the bill forward, Struthers said:"Our government isn’t going to move forward on something where we haven’t got our homework done."
Meanwhile, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation today held a news conference calling on the Selinger government to cancel plans to raise the PST and "lead by example" by tightening its belt before raising taxes.
The CTF ‘s Colin Craig, joined by representatives of the PC and Liberal parties, called on Selinger to reduce the size of his cabinet to 15 members from 19. He noted that former premier Gary Doer’s first cabinet in 1999 consisted of 15 members, including Doer himself.
Craig also suggested several other cuts that would save taxpayers more than $1 million annually.
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Another nail-biter for Blue
B.C. chief's pay and expenses nears $1 million
Man who died in Stella Avenue standoff was ordered to vacate house after dispute with relatives
Drunk driver gets 4 1/2 years for deadly crash
Committee endorses $25-million upgrade for Kilcona Park
Gaza truce comes after days of pushing for a deal
Manitoba tribute for a Canadian icon
High court warns against police stings
Higher bacon prices are staying: Maple Leaf
Family finds old human skull in garage
Regulator bans exclusivity in roaming deals
Cyberattack breached personal data: watchdog
Police looking for man after attempted abduction
Candidate goes homeless to show economic gap
Fridays of long weekends the deadliest days to be on the road
Player ordered to trial for fatal punch of referee
Winnipeg airport shows off refurbished second runway
MTYP hires new artistic director
US warns against travelling to Ebola-hit countries
NASA to test making rocket fuel ingredient on Mars
Met Opera asks mediator to resolve labour gridlock
MTS sees slight decline in revenue and slight increase in profit in second quarter
Top 20 Concert Tours from Pollstar
Unfairly convicted man can sue police, Crown
Demoted worker shoots CEO, kills self in Chicago
Target taps outsider as CEO for needed shakeup
'Godfather of Makeup' Dick Smith dead at 92
Moncton shootings suspect fit to stand trial
US, UN announce deal on 72-hour Gaza cease-fire
Preview of Folklorama at News Café today
Study traces dinosaur evolution into early birds
Fahmy imprisoned in Egypt weighs appeal
See-through mice reveal details of inner anatomy
W. Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths
World Cup predicting sloth rejects honours
Drivers don't care that 60 means 60
Kellogg's sales hurt as dieters drop Special K
Winnipegger to be inducted into soccer hall of fame
Improving defence a work in progress