Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Pallister proposes multi-prong referendum on PST, Hydro
The NDP could get more bang for its buck on a PST-hike referendum by adding two more questions, Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said today.
Besides asking whether the majority of Manitobans supported a one per cent increase of the provincial sales tax to eight per cent, Pallsiter said voters should also be asked whether they supported the scrapping of the Taxpayer Protection Act and Manitoba Hydro being expanded by the NDP to export more electricity to customers in the United States.
"These are major issues that matter greatly to the future of our province," Pallister said. "I think there’s a lot of merit in letting the people of Manitoba make decisions on issues of this nature."
Pallister said the additional two questions would make a referendum more cost-effective. A ballpark cost of such a referendum is about $10 million.
Pallister said Manitobans should have a say on all three issues instead of being left out of the debate by the NDP.
"I trust the judgment of Manitobans and fundamentally don’t think it’s right to create a false sense of urgency and emergency based on the government’s own lack of preparedness," Pallister said. "Now they’re telling you they have to raise PST and other taxes for things they ignored for 13 years."
But the chances of a such a multi-question referendum being held are nil.
The Selinger New Democrats say they need the new tax hike to put about $300 million in full-year revenue into their coffers and they need to have it effective July 1 and without a referendum. The NDP has introduced Bill 20 to do away with a Tory-inspired provision in the Taxpayer Protection Act to hold a referendum on major tax increases.
The NDP says they plan to use the money to boost infrastructure spending at a time when Canada’s economy is starting to slow and to build new flood protection projects in western Manitoba. The NDP has also said it wants to erase its half-billion dollar deficit by 2016-17.
The NDP also supports increasing the generating capacity of Manitoba Hydro over the next decade to increase export sales to the northern U.S. The roughly $20-billion plan includes building the Keeyask and Conawapa dams in northern Manitoba and the Bipole III transmission line down the west side of the province.
Updated on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 1:34 PM CDT: updates with quotes from Pallister
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