Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister, right, meets with Steve Dzubinski and Russ Paddock of the Healthy Living Centre during a brief visit to Brandon University on Friday as part of a weekend tour of western Manitoba. (GRAEME BRUCE/ BRANDON SUN)
Continuing his campaign against the government’s looming one per cent sales tax hike, Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister hit the road this weekend with a stop at Brandon University on Friday.
Before a tour of the Healthy Living Centre, Pallister reiterated his party’s hard line against the NDP’s "spending problem."
"They keep asking for more money, but they haven’t demonstrated they have a willingness to manage the money they were given," he said during a short scrum with local media.
Fanning the flames around the increased taxation, Pallister didn’t stray from previous criticisms that the government is breaking the law to push through the tax increase and vows to fight against the bill.
"The argument that the government needs to tear up the Tax Protection Act is refuted by the government itself ... but the problem is it’s disrespectful," he said. "When you tear away the right of people to say yes or no to a tax hike, you are limiting the power of those people."
When asked about the contentious issue of municipal amalgamation, Pallister said he agrees with amalgamating some rural municipalities, but scolds the government for its approach and said it "labelled municipalities as dysfunctional."
"Naturally, people at the municipal level were offended by that right away," he said, referring to the introduction to the bill before municipalities were consulted.
"If you’re going to bad-mouth someone, don’t go try and start a negotiation with them the day after, and this is exactly what the provincial government did."
Bill 33, the Municipal Modernization Act, would require towns and rural municipalities with fewer than 1,000 people to submit plans to the province by Dec. 1 for amalgamations that would take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
The bill empowers Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux to extend the deadline for submitting plans under special circumstances. The effective date of an amalgamation can also be extended to July 1, 2019.
A poll by Probe Research Inc. for the Winnipeg Free Press published last week shows the Tories’ popularity in Winnipeg has increased and is now tied with Greg Selinger’s NDP.
Provincewide, Tories held their lead with 42 per cent support among voters, which could bode well for PC supporters within Brandon and outlying communities.
"We’re all in this together in this province," Pallister said.
"We all recognize the importance of Winnipeg as a gross domestic product contributor … but of course the province is bigger than just Winnipeg and Winnipeggers know that, too," he said before circling back to the tax hike.
"The issues of tax increases and of massive debt … affect everyone and they affect future generations as well."
During his first stop in Brandon since Jan. 16, Pallister also made an appearance at the Brandon Chamber of Commerce.
Today, he’ll be in Erickson, Onanole, Dauphin and Swan River.
"I just want Manitobans to understand we can build a stronger province if we trust ourselves to be the builders of this province and don’t delegate it up to the NDP caucus members."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 4, 2013