There were a few points the Selinger government missed in its TV budget ads, the ones being played during NHL playoff games. For example, the producers forgot to mention the PST hike and soaring debt. Go figure. But hey, everybody makes mistakes. So at no charge to taxpayers, I put together a new ad for them, one that’s a little more reflective of reality. They can run it free of charge. Consider it my contribution to taxpayers.
The Manitoba Jockey Club and horse breeders could see cheques coming their way as early as May 10 from levies paid by patrons who bet on horse racing.
According to the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission there’s an estimated $120,000 that was deposited in a trust fund from the levy after Finance Minister Stan Struthers refused to discharge his legal obligation to approve a distribution plan for the funds.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Dewar ruled Monday that Struthers broke the law by refusing to approve the distribution plan for the horse racing industry, which he was required to do under the Pari-Mutuel Levy Fund Act no later than April 1.
Dewar issued a court order compelling Struthers to release the money “forthwith,” which Struthers had no choice but to do.
He signed the distribution plan Tuesday and the MHRC — which administers funds from the levy — says it should be caught up with payments by the end of the week.
The question now is, why has Struthers not resigned as finance minister and why hasn’t his boss Premier Greg Selinger demanded his resignation?
If breaking the law isn’t justification enough for a minister of the Crown to resign, then what is?
Remember, Struthers is the same minister who lied to a legislative standing committee last year when asked if he ever received free Winnipeg Jets tickets from a public body.
He told the committee the only Jets games he attended were those he paid for himself, which we later discovered was not true. Struthers knowingly did not tell the legislative standing committee the truth.
It was later revealed Struthers did receive free tickets paid for with public money.
Struthers also tabled a bill in the legislative assembly — Bill 20, the proposed law that would raise the PST to 8% — that circumvents the law requiring a referendum for such a tax change. Current law says government can’t present a bill to the legislative assembly proposing to raise the PST without first getting a mandate from the people through a referendum.
So is lying to a legislative standing committee and breaking the law still not enough for a minister of the Crown to resign?
Is the principle of ministerial responsibility now dead and buried in our parliamentary system?
It sure seems like it.
I’ve covered a lot of rallies on the steps of the legislature over the years, from “Save the Jets” campaigns to endless union-organized demonstrations demanding more money for civil servants. I’ve covered the anti-poverty, First Nations and farmers’ rallies. And I’ve observed countless demonstrations at the legislature that demanded greater justice for victims of violent crime.
But in all my years covering the Manitoba Legislature, I don’t recall a rally against higher taxes.
But there was one — Thursday May 2 — on the steps of the legislature, protesting the NDP’s proposal to raise the PST to 8% from 7% which drew about 500 protesters.
It was organized by the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
Apparently, people have reached their tipping point on taxes. So much so that they’re now willing to join the ranks of other demonstrators to demand government put an end to the annual tax hikes that are putting their families’ finances in jeopardy. I can’t blame them. Taxpayers have been a quiet lot in recent years, allowing governments to stick their hands deeper and deeper into to their pockets without protest. But apparently they’ve had enough.
Not only was there a public demonstration against the PST hike Thursday — and likely more in future weeks — over 150 people have already signed up to make a presentation at public hearings on the bill that would raise the PST. You can register by calling the clerk’s office at 945-3636.
It’s about time taxpayers stood up for their rights. And it’s high time governments began to realize that confiscating more and more of people’s disposable income not only hurts the economy and consumer spending, it reduces the standard of living of rank-and-file working people.
You know things have gone from bad to worse as a politician when you get booed by 15,000 angry fans at a National Hockey League game.
Premier Greg Selinger was excoriated by fans at the last Winnipeg Jets regular season game at MTS Centre Thursday when his mug was flashed on the jumbo screen during a TV stop in the first period.
Selinger was shown on the screen giving out an award when fans tore into him with a lengthy round of “boos” at a decibel level normally reserved for the worst referee call of the month.
The jeering was presumably tied to Selinger’s decision last week to raise the PST to 8% effective July 1.
Will Greg Selinger face the same fate as former NDP premier Howard Pawley for raising the PST?
It’s a bad sign for the NDP when their leader is publicly rebuked as badly as Selinger was Thursday. And it’s a far cry from the happy NDP days when Selinger’s predecessor Gary Doer used to be cheered with wife Ginny on the “smoochcam” at MTS Centre.
Things haven’t been this bad for the party since former NDP premier Howard Pawley jacked up the PST from 6% to 7% in 1987 and was forced to resign a year later after his government’s budget was defeated on a non-confidence motion.
The bad news for Selinger is the public backlash against the PST hike is just getting started. The first of what could be several protests has been organized for May 2 on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature.
The anti-PST rally begins at 6 p.m.
Also, dozens of people have already signed up to make presentations at a legislative committee reviewing Bill 20 — the proposed legislation that would violate Manitoba’s existing Balance Budget, Fiscal Management and Taxpayer Accountability Act by raising the PST without a referendum.
The public hearings are expected to be a raucous affair and will likely last days as more and more Manitobans sign up to give the Selinger government a piece of their mind on the proposed tax hike.
You can sign up for the hearing by calling the clerk’s office at 945-3636. Hearing dates have not yet been set.
Meanwhile, if I were Selinger, I wouldn’t show my mug at a sporting event any time soon.
Let’s just say Greg Selinger isn’t the most popular guy in town these days.
PST video here.