A positive for Pallister
Referendums may have been a useful means of the public voicing their opinions during the time of Socrates. But today, six months of citizen effort and an expenditure of $10 million for the obvious outcome is a negative.
The positive action that Brian Pallister should be able to achieve is to get the federal government to honour its financial commitment for the damages caused by the 2011 flood. As a former member of Parliament sitting on the government side, he has the required connections. Like-minded people get things done.
Such a success would put an estimated $500 million into the provincial treasury, a debt not yet paid.
Greg Selinger would be the Opposition leader and the eight per cent solution could be rescinded.
So now the leader of the Opposition proposes spending millions on a referendum to reaffirm two pieces of flawed legislation -- a balanced-budget bill and a freeze on new taxes -- which a previous Tory government enacted as a sop to its tax-fearing base.
What rational manager would give up the ability to react to changing conditions like inflation, floods, population changes, new and expensive technology, etc.?
Of course, Brian Pallister and his party don't recognize change. They're firmly entrenched in a bygone age.
It comes down to whose ox is being gored. At the time of the 2011 election, the NDP raised the spectre of the PCs unilaterally privatizing Manitoba Hydro against the will of the people by changing the legislation that requires a referendum should they be granted a majority. Now they are employing the same tactic to unilaterally raise the sales tax in defiance of legislation.
It is either time to stick with the deal and have a referendum, or use the government's majority to scrap an inherent requirement that voters have their say on matters of vital importance to all Manitobans.
Manitobans deserve a referendum on the PST increase, presenting a well-explained, facts-based case (not a trumped-up scare tactic), and if the proposal fails after public discourse, we will know that we had our say and must then abide by the consequences of reduced government spending.
A few years ago, the Harper government dropped the GST from seven to five per cent. Most economists at the time declared it to be a stupid move. A consumption tax is considered the best way for governments to raise revenue.
The billions of dollars lost could have gone toward valuable programs now being cut by this government. Some of it could also have been put towards our current debt.
The provincial government's decision to raise the PST to eight per cent, despite promises to the contrary, could cost them politically but was absolutely the right thing to do.
The cookie jar is empty. My pockets are empty, and now Greg Selinger wants the lint, too.
The NDP government should learn how to spend within its means, as any responsible hard-working citizen does. I do not believe in the government's reasons for its PST tax increase. Neither do the majority of people I know.
Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn is quoted as saying, "I'll take 50 per cent efficiency if I can get 100 per cent loyalty." Premier Greg Selinger would prefer to say, "I'll take 50 per cent of the PST tax hike if I can get 100 per cent of taxpayers to fund the western route for Bipole III.
In his April 23 letter, That was then, this is now, Herb Schulz quotes Brian Pallister as saying that if he were premier, he would not have increased the PST, and then reminds us that Katz said he would not raise property taxes if he were re-elected mayor.
I suppose he sees a parallel. As reported by Bruce Owen in the same issue (Conservatives fire back at tax hike), four NDP MLAs said in 2011 that they would not support a PST increase. But that was then, this is now.
Further, to raise the PST requires, by law, that it be put to a referendum. To do otherwise would be breaking the law. But that was then, this is now.
The provincial NDP continually takes $100 of my earned income in taxes and spreads it out to 10 people who don't earn it.
I am disgusted and never vote NDP. But those 10 people always do. That's democracy, socialist-style.
Extending power grid north
In his otherwise excellent column As province goes south, look north (April 11), Jim Carr writes that federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews "is right to promote an all-weather road from Northern Manitoba to Rankin Inlet."
Your readers should know that more than 1,400 aboriginal people live here in Shamattawa and are dependent upon diesel-fuel oil for electricity generation and for residential heating. Each year, the winter-road season gets shorter, the risk of an oil spill greater and the costs of this non-renewable resource higher.
We are working with Manitoba Hydro, the province and the federal government to assess the feasibility of extending the electrical grid to Shamattawa. We hope to be in a position soon to ask Toews to support our request for funding for this important improvement to our community.
In fact, I find it difficult to explain to people here in Shamattawa why we are not able to benefit from reliable, low-cost hydro power, while that same power is sent to the United States for profit.
Shamattawa First Nation would like to see some benefit from northern development in Manitoba. I think this request is reasonable, because we have for many decades experienced negative social and environment effects while Manitobans in the south have enjoyed both the billions of dollars in profits from hydroelectric development and from the low hydro rates associated with grid power.
CHIEF WILLIAM MILES
If John A. Robins (Listening to the oath, Letters, April 20) is implying that without a constitutional monarchy, Canadians would suddenly experience a major diminution or outright loss of a multitude of democratic rights, he's either being wilfully blind or merely promoting the standard monarchist propaganda.
Citizens of constitutional republics like the United States, France and Germany, among others, enjoy as many rights and freedoms as those living in constitutional monarchies, and they don't have to swear allegiance to any unelected entities who don't even share their nationalities.