POLITICS

Anti-tax protest organized by Manitoba opposition draws 150 people

06/20/2013 01:42 EDT | Updated 08/20/2013 05:12 EDT
WINNIPEG - About 150 people took to the front of the Manitoba legislature today to denounce the government's planned sales tax increase and other measures.

The demonstration was organized by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives, who accused the NDP government of ignoring the concerns of people who already struggle to get by.

Tory Leader Brian Pallister told the crowd the NDP promised to not increase taxes in the 2011 election, then turned around and raised hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes.

The Tories have been using delay tactics in the legislature to stall the passage of a bill that would raise the sales tax by one percentage point — to eight per cent — as of July 1.

The protest focused on other concerns as well, including flood compensation and the province's plan to force small municipalities to amalgamate.

Mike Mason, who owns a cottage in Victoria Beach, said the government has not listened to people opposed to amalgamation.

"Roughly 75 municipalities of the 90 or 92 that are being forced to amalgamate have said, 'We don't want to do this. Can we look at it from a different angle?' And the government is unwilling to do that."

Pallister acknowledged the small turnout.

"We're here today for a heck of a lot of other people that can't be here," he said to applause.

"A lot of flood victims at home right now can't get here because they're too busy cleaning up and working and trying to make a life for themselves."

The Tories have frequently raised the concerns of rural residents whose homes and farmland were damaged by the 2011 flood and who say they have not been adequately compensated.

The government has said it has been talking with the federal government about cost-sharing expanded flood compensation.