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NDP Must Explain Why They Joined the Stefanson/Pallister “Cheques for Billionaires” Scheme

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg, MB -

Ian MacIntyre, Manitoba Liberal Candidate for Kildonan-River East says the NDP need to explain why they are running for office on the same “cheques for billionaires” policy brought in by the Pallister and Stefanson PCs, when they spent months opposing it in the legislature this spring.

PC Premier Brian Pallister brought in the debt-funded rebate program, borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars a year in order to send out rebate cheques for property taxes that are earmarked to support public education. The rebates, which totaled: $453-million in 2023, $350 million in 2022 budget, and $248 million in 2021, have added over $1-billion to Manitoba’s debt – nearly half of that in this budget year of 2023. Some of the largest cheques going to the largest property owners, including pipelines, railways, and absentee landlords.

Between March and May 2023, NDP MLAs opposed the questions more than a dozen times – including questions and statements by Leader Wab Kinew, Finance Critic Mark Wasyliw and post-secondary education critic Jamie Moses. They all condemned the PCs policy as “corporate welfare” and “money for billionaires.”

On April 6, 2023, NDP Leader Wab Kinew asked Premier Heather Stefanson the following:

“Brian Pallister decided it was a good idea to send million-dollar cheques to billionaires, and this Premier decided it was a good idea to continue the practice… They send tens of thousands of dollars to some of the richest people in the world, none of whom live in Manitoba or contribute substantively to our society. So the question that the Premier should ask is the question that every voter in Manitoba will be confronted with this year: Do you want to send more money to billionaires outside of the province or do you want to feed hungry kids right here at home?”

However, August 9, Kinew and the NDP pulled an about-face and announced they would keep the PC budget and its tax rebates for the 2023 year.

“The only difference between the NDP and the PC cheques for billionaires scheme is that instead of PC cheques in envelopes, the NDP’s payments to billionaires will be direct deposit,” said MacIntyre “Manitoba Liberals are staying true to our word. We’ve opposed these rebates since Pallister announced them. Repealing them will reduce the deficit by $360-million and ensure secure and stable funding for education and for the whole government.”

The Manitoba Liberals platform commits to repealing 80% of these rebates for the richest landowners, while maintaining 20% to protect Seniors, people with disabilities and local Manitoba businesses and farmers who are struggling or facing undue hardship.

In a Winnipeg Free Press article, Niall Harney of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives warned that:

"… the NDP’s pledge to keep the fiscal framework laid out by PC government in its budget and the associated tax breaks and rebates will also increase income inequality… the think-tank predicted an NDP government would have “little fiscal room to increase spending on core services without cuts to other budget items.”

“When it came down to the crunch, the NDP chose to stand with the Stefanson PCs and out-of-province billionaires, while the Manitoba Liberals are the only party committed to fiscal responsibility and funding services,” said MacIntyre. “There is only one party that is offering a real choice for real change, and it’s Dougald Lamont and the Manitoba Liberals.”

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