Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

PST hike going to court

PCs want tax increase declared illegal

  • Print
Hundreds of people gathered at the legislative building last spring to protest the one-percentage-point hike to the provincial sales tax.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Hundreds of people gathered at the legislative building last spring to protest the one-percentage-point hike to the provincial sales tax.

Manitoba's Tories want a judge to decide if the NDP's hike of the provincial sales tax was illegal.

The legal paperwork was filed at court Friday and a hearing is scheduled for April 25. It could be months, if not years, before the legal challenge is decided.

Opposition Leader Brain Pallister said the nub of the PCs' argument is the NDP ran afoul of the law by hiking the PST without holding a public referendum, as required under the 1995 Taxpayer Protection Act.

"What we're asking the courts is if the process the government used was legal or should be struck down," Pallister said Friday. "The NDP presented a bill to hike the PST at the same time as they did away with the right of Manitobans to vote on the issue, and so they combined two actions into one bill. We believe that was illegal on its face and we would like the court to rule on that."

Balanced-budget legislation enacted by the Filmon Conservatives in the mid-'90s forbids the introduction of a bill that would boost the sales tax without a referendum. The NDP's Bill 20 did away with that requirement.

The NDP counter they acted within their rights as government to implement a tax hike before passing the enabling legislation. They've also characterized the PCs' court action as a political charade.

"I'm very satisfied that at the end of the day this will be exposed for just another political tactic by the Progressive Conservatives," Justice Minister and government house leader Andrew Swan said.

Lawyers Jonathan Kroft and Martin Freedman are acting for the province. Robert Tapper acts for the PCs.

Pallister said the PCs ultimately want a judge to order the PST increase be reversed.

"We'd like the legislation which existed prior to the government's ignoring it to be respected, and that legislation required that Manitobans have the right to vote on major tax hikes," he said.

The likelihood of the PCs winning their legal challenge is iffy.

A similar challenge last year by supporters of the Canadian Wheat Board, to reverse Ottawa's end of the agency's monopoly, was rejected by the courts. At issue was whether Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz broke the law by ending the CWB monopoly without a vote of farmers.

Strategically, however, it allows the Tories to draw out their public fight against the PST increase, should their challenge be allowed to drag through the courts, into the next general election campaign. The next election is April 19, 2016.

"Using the courts in this instance, where we believe NDP put themselves above the law, is the correct course of action and that's what we're going to pursue," Pallister said.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2014 A8

Fact Check

Fact Check

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.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Bowman pledges to find efficiencies at City Hall

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • horse in sunset - marc gallant
  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Jets' three pre-season losses in a row are a sign of things to come?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google