A new political party hopes to unseat the NDP this-coming election.
We asked Manitoba Party president Gary Marshall, and Logan constituency candidate Joe Chan, more about their party's tax-cut-driven structure, and how they would change things if elected.
CBC: First, Gary, can you tell us why you think Manitoba needs another political party?
Gary Marshall: We've got three established parties that are vying for a certain small amount of space on the political spectrum, and they've so far ignored a large space on the other side. We've got 42 per cent of voters who didn't vote in the last election. I've said this before, but that's a huge market that the other parties are just ignoring, so we're trying to appeal to those voters to come out and vote.
How are you doing that?
Marshall: We're a party of tax cuts, so we believe in lowering the taxes and lowering the penalties and fines for doing work of value in this province. That's the main part of it. I think our PST pledge — reduce the PST from eight to five per cent — and centre it more on the Saskatchewan NDP's efforts back in 2006 and remove the PST on food purchased in and out of food stores.
In your working life, you're a dialysis technologist. How come you wanted to form a political party, Gary?
Marshall: I've had a long interest in economics and public finances that goes back 20 years and I work on the theoretical side of things, and I've just studied economics that long a time that you see that anytime people have cut taxes, cut the penalties or fines on the productive class, then that class thrives.
We've seen it in Saskatchewan in 2006 when they cut the taxes. Yes, they had a bump up in oil and gas revenues and resource revenues, but that province has been thriving like we have not. You saw it in Ontario in 1995, where the Bob Rae government left the incoming Conservatives $10-billion in deficits over four years, and they erased those deficits with tax cuts, believe it or not. So we think that the same medicine for this province is just what it needs.
Why not join an established party and try to bring about change that way?
Marshall: As you can see, the established parties aren't listening. The Conservatives have had 16 years of losses, they haven't learned anything and here they are offering [not] a PST cut, they're just offering to roll back the increase that the NDP made. I think there's a real opportunity there for us.
To me, the Conservatives have been wiped out across the country, and there's a good reason for that — they're not conservative anymore.
How many confirmed candidates are there for the party?
Chan: I think more than 20 are getting ready, so we're targeting another 40 next month. We hope to have a full slate, but we don't know yet. They all have the right amount of signatures.
Some of them we want to keep a low profile. A couple of them are politicians and don't want to come out [right now], so we respect that.
Why would you want to keep a low profile?
Marshall: We are starting to move into that area; we're going to start filling up the website with the candidates, because they have to be out there. Joe was just talking about the next couple of weeks. Things are a little bit fluid right now, but we also picked up two very good candidates [Thursday].
Now they're starting to come in. All of the work Joe [has done] — I mean, he's done some amazing things for us, just non-stop work. He knows lots of people and does lots of great recruiting, so all of those contacts that he made are starting to pay off.
Tax reduction is a major part of your platform. Which taxes would you reduce?
Marshall: We're reducing five per cent PST, increase the personal exemption from $9,000 to $20,000, indexed to inflation, to $40,000 for couples. You wouldn't pay any provincial income tax if you were in less than that. Above that, it's just a flat rate of 10 per cent. Business tax: 10 per cent, after the small business deduction.
So those are the tax reductions, and then we have some secondary concerns — it's not just tax cuts. One is to kill the photo radar, which I think is a big tax on Winnipeggers. We had a presentation by Mr. Todd Dube of Wise Up Winnipeg and I was just stunned at how bad it was, and how much contempt our political leaders at the provincial and at the city level have for the people of this province. That they would decrease or diminish their safety at the expense of lining their pockets, with the complicity of the courts, I might imagine.
So if we're reducing taxes, where are you getting all of the money to cover all of the services that Manitobans need that are paid for by taxpayer dollars?
Marshall: A lot of people confuse tax rates with tax revenues, and they are not the same thing. If you increase your tax rates, if you double your tax on, say, a consumption tax, from five to 10 per cent, on say $100-million in sales, you would expect to see an increase from $5-million to $10-million in revenues, but that's not what happens.
You actually see a decrease, so you'll see only maybe $8 million that flows from that, because sales will shrink — people see the high taxes and they start engaging in all sort of activities to get around that tax. They don't buy things [locally]; they buy things elsewhere. This is exactly what happens. It's a penalty. It's the same thing with incomes, it's the same thing with every kind of tax. You don't get the revenues you expect.
Tax rates are not tax revenue. You get greater growth with tax cuts, and that's what this province needs. That's the answer to all it's problems. You'll have a demand for labour and you'll have greater economic activities when you remove these penalties, so instead of one per cent growth, you'll see five and six and seven per cent growth.
At this point the Manitoba Party doesn't have official status. Joe: what are you hearing when you're going out getting signatures?
Chan: Getting signatures, everybody was so excited. They say, "If you're NDP, I'm going to slam the door." I told them we're not NDP, we're not Liberal, we're not PC. We're the new party called the Manitoba Party — we're here to help you.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
More information is available on the Manitoba Party website.