Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Tory poll indicates PST-hike ire lingers

'Manitobans not willing to forget,' Pallister says

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A new poll released by the provincial Tories shows Manitobans are still unhappy with this summer's PST hike.

Seventy-seven per cent of Manitobans surveyed Dec. 3 to 4 opposed the increase -- with 63 per cent saying they were strongly opposed.

Tax mood

The question: Do you support or oppose the choice of the provincial government to increase the PST from seven to eight per cent?

Number of Manitobans surveyed: 805

Margin of error: accurate within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20

Polling company: NRG Research Group

Given they were asked whether they liked a tax hike, perhaps it's surprising 19 per cent of Manitobans said they supported the measure. Four per cent had no opinion.

The provincial sales tax hike -- to eight per cent from seven per cent -- took effect July 1. As of Friday, it's estimated the government had collected an additional $120 million because of the increase.

The provincial Tories, staunch opponents of the tax grab, have ridden the issue to the top of the political polls in Manitoba.

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said the survey shows younger Manitobans -- those aged 18 to 34 -- were even more likely (83 per cent) to oppose the tax hike, as were those from outside Winnipeg (81 per cent opposed).

"Although the government is counting on Manitobans to forget, it is apparent over the past number of months that Manitobans are not willing to forget," Pallister said Friday.

He said those who said they supported the tax hike were likely bedrock NDP voters who believed in the party's argument about the need for added revenues.

Meanwhile, a day after the legislative sitting came to an end, the Conservative leader shuffled his shadow cabinet, returning some prominent critics to familiar roles.

Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen will again be the party's justice critic, a role he held under former Tory leader Hugh McFadyen.

Similarly, Charleswood MLA Myrna Driedger, a former nurse, will switch back to health after serving as finance critic for the past year.

Morden-Winkler MLA Cameron Friesen becomes the new Tory finance critic, while Lac du Bonnet MLA Wayne Ewasko, a school guidance counsellor, takes over from Goertzen as education critic.

Pallister said he was returning Goertzen and Driedger to their old roles after more than a year "because they're great at them." He also said the experiences they gained as critics in other portfolios will serve them well in their new jobs.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2013 A3

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