Selinger NDP and Bokhari Liberals hand in hand on PST hike

Selinger and Bokhari claimed they opposed PST hike, now both will keep it and hike PST again: Stefanson

Greg Selinger claimed he opposed a PST hike before the last election, then raised it. Rana Bokhari claimed in 2013 the NDP’s PST increase was illegal and promised to repeal it, but now says she supports the hike.

“Only the Brian Pallister PC Team will stop Selinger’s plan for a nine or 10 per cent PST,” said Heather Stefanson, PC deputy leader and candidate for Tuxedo. “We are the only party that has consistently opposed the NDP’s PST increase, and will lower the PST in our first term to provide tax relief for all Manitobans.”

In August 2013, Bokhari told the Morden Times she would repeal the PST hike because it’s an example of “the lazy approach to running an economy.” In September 2013, she told the Winnipeg Free Press the PST increase ought to be repealed, saying the Selinger NDP “went against their own law. They should have had a referendum. … PST is just an example of the government’s mismanagement.”

Bokhari now says she supports the NDP’s PST hike and is “not going to move from that because that was the promise to Manitobans early on.” (Winnipeg Sun, March 16, 2016)

At a 2011 leaders’ debate, Selinger infamously said: “Ridiculous idea that we're going to raise the sales tax. That's total nonsense. Everybody knows that.” Documents obtained through access to information requests show that when Selinger said this, he and his cabinet had already been looking at increasing the PST.

In 2013, the Selinger NDP misled media and claimed they never examined a nine per cent PST. The Ombudsman investigated and found in an April 2014 ruling, “the records that exist and were withheld do include reference to a 9% RST (retail sales tax).”

As recently as January 2016, Selinger refused to rule out hiking the PST to nine or even 10 per cent.

BACKGROUNDER

Selinger NDP record on the PST hike

  • In March 2014, PC Caucus received access to information documents that verified the NDP cabinet received analysis on the impact on raising the PST in general in fiscal 2008-09 and 2010-11 and analysis specific to impact on Manitoba businesses in fiscal 2009-10.
  • In August 2013, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and PC Caucus received a “Briefing Note: Increase Sales Tax Rate – Summary” in response to an access to information request regarding the NDP PST hike. The document was almost entirely redacted even though the NDP had already announced their hike to the PST from 7 to 8% months before in the April 2013 Budget. 
  • In October 2013, Canadian Press asked the Finance Minister if the Selinger NDP had ever seen or dealt with briefing notes related to a 9% PST. The response from the NDP was “No, that was not something that we considered”. (Canadian Press, April 7, 2014 “Update: New docs show Manitoba government considered 9 per cent PST).
  • On April 1, 2014, the Manitoba Ombudsman provides a ruling on a challenge provided by Canadian Press. The Ombudsman ruling confirms “the records that exist and were withheld do include reference to a 9% RST”.
  • As recently as January 2016, media report “Selinger, who increased the PST in 2013 to 8% despite promising voters in the 2011 election that he wouldn’t raise the sales tax, has refused to rule out another increase if the NDP is re-elected in the April 19 provincial election.” (Winnipeg Sun, Jan. 11, 2016, Selinger at odds with voters over PST).

Bokhari record on the PST hike

  • On August 29, 2013, the Morden Times reports Bokhari would repeal the PST hike and quotes her saying it was an example of “the lazy approach to running an economy”.
  • On September 19, 2013, Bokhari told the Winnipeg Free Press the PST hike ought to be repealed and in a video interview at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café she can be seen saying: “You know, legal background right off the bat. I look it as they went against their own law. They should have had a referendum. I think that what this really is… I think PST is just an example of the government’s mismanagement. That is really just what it really is.”
  • In a November 13, 2013, post on the Manitoba Liberal Party website titled “Rana’s Response to Throne Speech,” Bokhari wrote. “While the NDP claim to support small businesses, they refuse to acknowledge that their PST hike hurts small family owned restaurants and stores.” This post has since been deleted.
  • In 2014, Bokhari completely reversed her position on the broken-promise NDP PST hike.
    • On July 24, 2014, the Morden Times reports “MB Liberals true colours emerge,” and quotes Bokhari describing a defence of referendum voting rights on the PST hike as “frivolous from the start” and “a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
    • On November 14, 2014, Bokhari is quoted in the Winnipeg Sun saying a repeal of the PST increase was “a plan to slash revenue” and “irresponsible.”
    • On March 16, 2016, Bokhari told the Winnipeg Sun she has always supported keeping Selinger’s PST hike for 10 years, saying, “Our commitment is 10 years and I’m not going to move from that because that was the promise to Manitobans early on.”