by Graham Lane,
Published in the Winnipeg Sun, July 13, 2018
Brian Pallister’s “one-man show” government sets the bar laughingly too low with his plan to ‘eliminate’ the provincial government’s annual budget deficit in eight years and two terms. Worse is his too clever by half fake tax cut, planning to cut the PST rate back to 7% from 8% by bringing in his “made in Manitoba” carbon dioxide tax, set to devastate family budgets.
Manitoba needs an extensive make-over if it is to compete with other jurisdictions for jobs in an ever faster moving economy now facing disruption by Trump’s “make America great” policies.
But the leadership vacuum in Manitoba is vast. The NDP’s hopes for the next election are fatally wounded by its ‘history’ of boondoggles, its ownership by the public sector unions, and a leader who hails from the obsessive and unappealing identity politics bubble. As for the Liberals, they are going nowhere. Pallister is likely to win by default in 2020 unless something surprising arises.
Coming out of the ‘chute’ is Manitoba First, promising to transform Manitoba. The fledging new party is led by Markus Buchart, a seasoned lawyer with political experience – once the leader of the Manitoba Green Party. Currently obtaining party status (collecting the necessary 2,500 signatures required by Election Manitoba), the new entry into the political fray rightly claims that the provincial debt needs to be brought down and taxes and fees lightened.
The new party in waiting opposes Pallister’s looming carbon tax. If it achieves government, Manitoba First intends to begin trimming the public sector down to the Canadian average – while creating more innovative and customer friendly public services. It plans to deploy the savings into tax and fee reductions, and better environmental and road infrastructure. It’s goal: creating a more vibrant private sector to end the constant exodus of our young people and professionals.
Manitoba First positions itself as being fiscally conservative and socially progressive with a policy roadmap for a “confident, fearless, successful and growing Manitoba”. On Buchart’s agenda is achieving desperately needed real transformative healthcare, education and justice system reform – focusing on “improving outcomes and lowering costs”. Also, Manitoba Hydro would be set for an inquiry and long overdue reform.
As for tax reform, Buchart targets repealing the payroll tax and land transfer tax, reducing corporate and personal income taxes, and ending traffic fines as taxation policy. (Notably, Buchart has been a key litigator defending citizens from a financially predatory traffic fine system.) Finally, he would end the Pallister Carbon Tax which would retrogressively penalize Manitoba’s most vulnerable citizens. He would join the nation-wide carbon tax revolt now underway (Saskatchewan, Ontario and, soon, Alberta).
A former Green Party Leader, Buchart has no concerns about the chronically hyped-up “climate crisis”, preferring to focus on real environmental issues like clean air and water, and doubling down on separating Winnipeg’s sewer and storm water drainage lines.
Conservatives tired of Pallister’s unserious program (particularly his carbon tax), and NDPers and Liberals who truly care about better, customer-focused public services, should get behind this new project by adding their signatures to the effort so Manitoba First can start its push for better public policies.
You can sign on (and see the full platform) at www.manitobafirst.ca.
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