POLITICS

Finance Minister Promises No New Taxes

03/19/2012 08:35 EDT | Updated 05/19/2012 05:12 EDT
CP

Quebec's finance minister went without the traditional new shoes for the tabling of the province's 2012 budget – opting instead for a pair of new shoelaces.

Finance Minister Raymond Bachand said despite that hint of meagre means, he will avoid putting more pressure on taxpayers when he tables the budget on Tuesday.

"The average family pays enough taxes in Quebec," Bachand said. "I've said there will not be new income taxes for families. There won't be any."

Opposition weighs in

Opposition parties hammered home their demands Monday, although they come far too late for a budget that has already been printed.

"Eliminate the health tax," Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois said. "It's an unfair tax."

Quebec Solidaire called on the Liberal government to abandon what it calls "the religion of zero deficit" and make university tuition free.

But the Coalition Avenir Québec demanded the government do the opposite. CAQ leader François Legault called for big cuts in public sector jobs and demanded the government start paying down the debt right away.

"They can't increase taxes or tariffs, so they must reduce expenses," Legault said.

Even without the opposition parties weighing in, Bachand said he has some tough choices to make. He said he wants to rebalance the budget by 2014, without putting more pressure on taxpayers.

He said the budget's main aim is to help the economy grow, in response to Quebec's sluggish job market.

"The economy has slowed down," Bachand said. "We have less revenue than we thought a year ago. So it's been difficult."

Even with those promises of restraint, political opponents will be watching carefully Tuesday for any budget "goodies" that might signal the government is planning to call an election in the near future.

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