Last Thursday during question period at the Leg something happened. Something significant. But it went unreported. I suppose every journalist in this town was busy writing Jets stories upon Jets stories. After all, news is a business and it is indisputably the hottest item in town.
That said I'm not sure one news outlet even sent an intern to the Leg on Thursday.
What happened was nothing short of insulting. A sad and incredible slap in the face to all Manitobans.
It is of no surprise to anybody that this government or any other, would take advantage of the NHL coming back to town, using the opportunity to say "we did it" and add it to their resume for the campaign trail. But Thursday, and I cannot stress this enough, was incredible. There is only so much political credit one can take, and the Premier of Manitoba Greg Selinger crossed the line.
What he said should send a major signal to Manitobans about this government. This post is for all the low income families in Manitoba, and the people of Elmwood, the North End, and the West End. You're all orange now, but think carefully who you're voting for in October.
I'm adding comedic relief to the transcript of Thursday afternoon such that I don't end up throwing my iPad across the room.
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Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, wasteful spending is plaguing this NDP government. While a hard-working family of four in Elmwood struggles to make ends meet, the NDP government will be taking roughly $3,000 a year from their pockets in income taxes to pay for things like a $38,000–a barbecue for senior bureaucrats at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. Meanwhile, that family earning the same amount in Saskatchewan would only be paying $725 in income taxes while their government cut wasteful spending and put more dollars into health care.
I ask, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier: Why is he taking so much money from families in places like Elmwood to spate–to spend on their executive bureaucrat friends?
A low income family has to pay 3 grand a year in taxes for rich people?! The same family in Saskatchewan has to pay just $725?!?!?
Oh, say it ain't so, Mr Premier!!
Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member from River Heights for the question.
The government of Saskatchewan, when they do their affordability index for all the provinces in Canada, have ranked Manitoba No. 1 for affordability. We always position ourselves to ensure that families of all types and sizes and income levels remain in the top three.
But this makes no sense, Greg! How can we be number 1 in affordability, but have poor families pay more than 3 times the taxes that those strange people next door pay?
In this budget that the member opposite voted against, we increased the property tax credit for families in Manitoba, the education property tax credit. We increased the property tax credit for seniors to an unprecedented level in this province, the first step of three that we've put in place. We've increased the personal exemption for families inside of Manitoba, and, you know what, Mr. Speaker? We're growing the economy like we've never seen before in this province.
Uh huh...but what about the low income families?
It's grown by over 50 per spent–50 per cent. People have more disposable income. People can afford to buy tickets to support the NHL in Manitoba. The members opposite would not build the MTS Centre. They wouldn't build the Hydro building. They wouldn't build Red River College. They will–won't build water treatment facilities that will protect the water in Manitoba.
Poor people are fine because people in Manitoba have disposable income and we can afford NHL tickets! And the MTS Centre!
We will build those things, and we will keep Manitoba families employed, including in Elmwood.
Keep the people of Elmwood employed as what, 50/50 sellers at the arena?
I've cut one question/answer here, if you want to see it and Greg Selinger say the Conservatives will privatize Hydro, it is in the hansard.
Mr. Gerrard: Mr. Speaker, enough is enough. The working poor in Manitoba are sick of being overtaxed when the NDP is just wasting so much of their money, and families in rural Manitoba are sick of being overtaxed when the government doesn't even provide an adequate water management system that works.
When will the Premier apologize for overtaxing Manitobans and wasting the money that's being spent?
Waste, waste, waste! The poor are wasting away by being overtaxed and the Premier gives money away for stadiums and professional sports teams!
Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, we will keep Manitoba families among the affordable in the country. We will make sure Manitoba is one of the most affordable places to live in the country and, at the same time as we keep Manitoba affordable, we will invest in better hospitals,
Brian Sinclair, where are you?
better personal care homes, better schools, better universities. We'll even support the MTS Centre downtown when the members opposite vote against
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH POOR FAMILIES?!
it so that we can now have the NHL back in Manitoba after 15 dark years of them doing everything they can to thwart it.
Hey poor people, we're taxing you a lot and wasting the money, but who cares! WE GOT THE NHL BACK!
They have done everything they can in the last 15 years–[interjection] You know, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate them applauding getting the NHL back
THE QUESTION IS ABOUT POVERTY!
by this government in Manitoba when, for the last 15 years, they've done everything they can to stop this province improving, to stop making improvements to quality of life. They've opposed every tax reduction we've done. They've imposed every investment we've made in education, culture, health and in sport in this province.
Investing, he says! We can afford the NHL!
Manitoba is moving forward. It's on a roll. Let's keep it going that way and not let the members opposite into government.
Are we done yet? Can we drop the puck now?
Mr. Speaker: Order. Time for oral questions has expired.
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What the hell is this?
Poverty! What poverty, we got the NHL back!
This is shameful, it is a slap in the face, and it was unbelievably low to duck a question about low income families and tax policies and shift to professional hockey. Which no low income family could possibly afford and has absolutely nothing to do with the well being of marginalized communities.
That our economy is "strong" also has nothing to do with low income families. It does not affect them and they see little benefits. Just last week an ex-pat claimed Saskatchewan was spanking us. Whatever low blow that might be to our ego, it has nothing to do with the Riders vs Bombers, or the Wheat Kings vs The Pats.
That poor families have to pay more than 3 times what the same family has to pay in Sask, is lost on Premier Greg Selinger, because....we got the NHL back.
And this is the party of the people? These are the people they claim to represent! These are the people who now have to put up with the NDP Government ignoring their problems because they are too busy helping their buddies, paying out for the Asper siblings' projects, and taking credit for something they had nearly no involvement in.
Nobody wrote about this? Nobody can say they truly expected the government to embarrass themselves to this level. Taking credit is one thing...shaking off criticism of low income tax policies by cheering the NHL?