What’s not clear is why Premier Jason Kenney won’t absolutely take a PST off the table.
More than 60 per cent of Albertans do not want a PST, according to a new poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute. Only three per cent of Albertans would support a PST that’s more than five per cent.
Lower income people are most likely to oppose a PST, with 65 per cent of Albertans earning $50,000 or less saying they are against a sales tax.
A group of more than 90 tone-deaf Alberta business executives recently wrote a report that discussed an eight per cent sales tax. That would cost $1,600 per Albertan every year.
With costs like that, it’s no surprise that families who have too much month left at the end of their paycheque are the most eager to fight against a crippling sales tax that could cost them more than a thousand smackers every year.
The opposition to a sales tax is even stronger among the United Conservative faithful, with 76 per cent of UCP voters completely rejecting a PST. It’s clear voters didn’t send the UCP to Edmonton so it could have a turn reaching deeper into our pockets with a multi-billion-dollar sales tax hike.
So, why won’t Kenney completely reject a sales tax?
To Kenney’s credit, he did write a letter to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation saying he would uphold the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act, which requires a referendum before a politician can impose a PST.
“As long as I am Premier, Albertans will have the final say through a fair referendum vote on whether a hypothetical sales tax should be introduced,” said Kenney.
It’s good to know the airbags are installed properly, but why is the government still drifting toward the sales-tax ditch?
Calgary sun columnist Rick Bell, who has a long history of holding politicians accountable, gave Kenney the chance to put taxpayers’ minds to ease. He set the ball on the proverbial tee for Kenney by asking the premier why the government hasn’t completely rejected a PST and other major tax increases.
But Kenney wouldn’t take future tax hikes off the table. Instead, he lamely acknowledged that “now would be the worst time” to raise taxes and alluded to a future tax panel that will “take a look at Alberta’s tax mix.”
Kenney’s answer was a swing and a miss for taxpayers. And it leaves us all with a few daunting questions: is Kenney considering a future sales tax? Is there chatter of a PST in UCP backrooms?
After all, if Kenney truly had no plans to introduce a PST, the question would have been a lobbed pitch right over the heart of the plate. The former tax-fighting Kenney should have swung for the fence with an emphatic: “as long as I am premier there will be no PST in Alberta.”
Fortunately, one MLA is pushing Kenney and his colleagues to reject tax hikes.
“I am calling for you and my caucus colleagues to unequivocally denounce any further ideas surrounding the future implementation of a PST,” wrote Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes following the release of the poll showing a clear majority of Albertans reject a sales tax.
“It’s time for us to clearly state at this point, and into the future to Albertan taxpayers, that the UCP government will not consider a PST or any other tax increases.”
Barnes previously told the CTF that other MLAs are concerned about a PST and would not support the multi-billion-dollar tax hike.
Albertans have continued to speak out against a PST. Now it’s time for our MLAs to find their voices and reject the PST once and for all. After all, elected officials speak for the people and the people are clearly saying no to a PST.
Franco Terrazzano is the Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.