Standing up for Manitobans against an illegal tax hike or a political stunt tying up valuable court resources?
That’s the political discourse today at the Manitoba legislature as Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservatives finally filed their court action against the NDP for raising the provincial sales tax by one point July 1, bringing it to eight per cent.
The Tories are asking for hearing date April 25, but it’s uncertain when the actual meat of their court application will be heard.
The nub of the PC’s argument is that the NDP ran afoul of the law by hiking the PST without holding a public referendum as required under the 1995 Taxpayer Protection Act. The NDP counter they acted within their rights as government to implement a tax hike before passing the enabling legislation.
"What we’re asking the courts is if the process the government used was legal or should be struck down," Pallister said today. "The NDP presented a bill to hike the PST at the same time as they did away with the right of Manitobans to vote on the issue, and so they combined two actions into one bill. We believe that was illegal on its face and we would like the court to rule on that."
The NDP have characterized the PCs' court action as a political charade.
"This is just another political stunt the PCs have been threatening for months," Finance Minister Jennifer Howard said in a statement today.
"Based on the advice of our counsel, Jonathan Kroft and Martin Freedman, we are confident their case will not succeed."