Manitoba PCs promise public votes on major tax increases if elected

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says if he’s elected, he won’t increase major taxes such as income, business or retail taxes without getting Manitobans to vote on proposed hikes.

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says ministerial salaries would be cut as penalty

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says if he's elected, he won't increase major taxes such as income, business or retail taxes without getting Manitobans to vote on proposed hikes. 1:57

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says if he's elected, he won't increase major taxes such as income, business or retail taxes without getting Manitobans to vote on proposed hikes.

Pallister made the announcement Thursday at the Manitoba Legislative Building, while the NDP and Liberals made health-care related announcements.

Pallister said if the PCs are elected, they will bring in legislation within the first legislative session "restoring Manitobans' right to vote on any proposed major tax increases."

"Let's trust Manitobans to make the decisions on whether these major taxes are going to be increased or not. Let's give them the right to vote on these major issues," Pallister told reporters.
PC Leader Brian Pallister said if he’s elected, he won’t increase major taxes such as income, business or retail taxes without getting Manitobans to vote on changes. (Sean Kavanagh/CBC)

Those taxes represent more than half of the income the government takes in from taxpayers, he said.

Pallister also said he would mandate a penalty for violating the legislation — ministerial salaries for the premier and cabinet would be cut by 20 per cent.

Pallister said a referendum would only be called on the major taxes the provincial government controls, not on increases for items like tobacco or liquor.

"No, not minor taxes. We are not putting them in here. Every government needs some latitude. Look, every Manitoban has to balance their own books and they know they have to make decisions about income and expenditures; those are practical, day-to-day decisions. We're talking about the three major taxes here," Pallister said.

In 2013, the NDP government said that holding a referendum on hiking the PST would cost at least $12 million.

Pallister's promise is essentially a return to legislation passed years ago, then sidestepped by the Selinger government to bring in a PST increase.

The former NDP government suspended a section of the balanced budget law, passed in 1995, that required a referendum on any increase to provincial sales, income or payroll taxes.

Pallister said referendums would only be held for tax increases, not decreases. His party will have more to say about specific tax policies later in the campaign, he said.

Pallister also spoke about taxes on Wednesday, when the election was officially called

Manitobans head to the polls April 19.


For CBC's full coverage of the provincial election, see Manitoba Votes 2016.

With files from Sean Kavanagh