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Manitoba's Inevitable PST Increase

04/25/2013 06:34 EDT | Updated 06/25/2013 05:12 EDT

In the 2011 Manitoba general election, NDP leader Greg Selinger claimed opposition accusations that the NDP would raise the PST were "total nonsense".

These comments came back to haunt him as Progressive Conservative MLAs repeatedly rose to their feet in the legislature this week to question the NDP on their 2011 PST referendum stance.

Last week the NDP government announced it's intention to raise the PST from the current 7% to 8%. Current legislation prevents the provincial government from doing so without a province-wide referendum.

But Bill 20, currently in the legislature, exemplifies bad governance in skirting the previous requirement of Manitoba governments to hold a referendum on any increase to the PST.

In addition to the elimination of the referendum, the 1% hike to the PST has drawn the ire of Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservative Party.

Yesterday the Finance Critic and Member of the Legislative Assembly for Charleswood, Myrna Driedger, offered her thoughts on the Manitoba NDP's change of heart regarding a referendum on a PST increase.

"There's some hypocrisy that we're seeing here in Manitoba... when we are asking them [the Manitoba NDP] to maintain the referendum legislation, they're just basically blowing it off and saying that they're going to go ahead and increase the PST."

"It is so contemptuous that they would make the promise, break the promise, ignore referendum which is a law in place, and now even if the legislation that raises the referendum doesn't pass, they're saying they're still raising the PST on July 1st anyway," Driedger added.

The province has credited the requirement for additional funds to the tough economic times, flooding and infrastructure costs, but the Progressive Conservatives aren't buying it.

The MLA for St. Paul, Ron Schuler, led the refrain against the government in Question Period on Monday, accusing four NDP MLAs of breaking their 2011 election promise to Manitobans.

"Now with the unmasking of the big NDP PST lie, was the campaign of the member for St. Norbert just a bunch of nonsense?" asked Schuler, aided in unison by the opposition benches.

When asked about the potential electoral consequences of the NDP's 1% PST increase Driedger added "I have never seen palpable anger like this in all my years of government... the only thing that protects taxpayers is now gutted by the NDP."

The government is dead set on usurping the PST referendum making Manitoba's only option for avoiding the tax hike, besides the legal action that that the Canada Taxpayers Federation is considering, voting the NDP out of office in the next election.

Until then, a raise on the provincial sales tax is a foregone conclusion.