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Tories end stalling tactics on tax hike

Agree to send Bill 20 to public hearings

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/6/2013 (2472 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Sheldon Collins doesn't mince words. Demonstrators oppose the July 1 PST hike to eight per cent.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Sheldon Collins doesn't mince words. Demonstrators oppose the July 1 PST hike to eight per cent.

The logjam — otherwise known as the Manitoba legislature — is broken.

A deal late Thursday between the opposition parties and the NDP will see Bill 20 — the legislation that would hike the provincial sales tax to eight per cent without a referendum — pass second reading.

Around 150 people were at Thursday's rally, which was organized by the Tories.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Around 150 people were at Thursday's rally, which was organized by the Tories.

It means public hearings on the controversial bill will start Thursday, likely at 6 p.m. No hearings will be held on the Friday or during the Canada Day long weekend.

Hearings will continue July 2 and each evening that week. Thirty presenters will be heard each evening. A hearing date has also been set for Saturday, July 6, to start at 10 a.m. and hear from 60 people. July 8 and 9 have also been set aside.

"It does get the house moving and that's a good thing," NDP house leader Jennifer Howard said.

So far, 210 people have registered to speak to Bill 20.

Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard said Bill 20 will not pass final reading until after July 1, the day the tax hike to eight per cent takes effect. "It's kind of a black mark on the NDP," Gerrard said.

Under the agreement, Bill 20 will only go to a vote on second reading when Progressive Conservative house leader Kelvin Goertzen finishes his filibuster on the bill, which he did at 6:56 p.m. Thursday. The Steinbach MLA was granted unlimited speaking time on Bill 20 in one of several procedural delays that have blocked the NDP's legislative and spending agenda.

The deal also says the same process for structured committee meetings on Bill 20 will be used for Bill 18, the government's anti-bullying bill that would require all schools to accommodate student anti-bullying clubs, including gay-straight alliances, should students want them.

Bill 18 will likely go to committee in the second week of July.

So far, 265 people have signed up to speak on it.

The deal came on the same day the Tories hosted a rally outside the legislative building that attracted about 150 people — 200 counting media, Tory staffers and MLAs.

In a news release, the PCs said it's time for Manitobans to have their say on Bill 20.

"While Manitobans really deserve a referendum, this move offers Manitobans a chance to have their say at committee. Make no mistake, we will continue to stand up for Manitobans," PC Leader Brian Pallister said in the release.

The Conservatives organized their "rally for respect" in front of the legislature to protest against the proposed PST hike and air a litany of other grievances against the governing NDP.

Rally participant Nancy Cooke, a local business manager, said the government should watch its spending rather than raise taxes.

"It's time to say we've had enough of the current government," she said. "Their attitude seems to be they'll do whatever they want to do, regardless of what people of Manitoba want to see happens."

Mike DeLuca, a 23-year-old Winnipegger who just finished his political science degree, said he's worried the province's increased debt under the NDP will fall on his generation's shoulders. He said he's concerned higher taxes will make Manitoba uncompetitive with other provinces.

"We want Manitoba to be a 'have' province. We want government to give us reasons to stay, not reasons to go," said DeLuca, who will enrol in the Asper School of Business's MBA program in August.

Pallister said he was not disappointed with the size of the crowd for an event his party planned for some time.

A hastily arranged PST protest rally sponsored by taxpayer and business lobbyists in early May drew about 500 people to the legislature.

"I'm not at all disappointed," Pallister said.

"I think for everyone here, there are a thousand other people out there who are too busy working to make their lives successful that they can't be here and I understand that."

 

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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