Toronto Sun - Taxpayers get extra protection

Published on April 4th, 2012 in the Toronto Sun

TORONTO - Two bills proposed by an Ontario Tory MPP would make it tougher to skirt a taxpayer protection law or vote on legislation without knowing the full cost to the provincial treasury.

Tory MPP Randy Hillier introduced two private member’s bills Wednesday that would reinforce the Taxpayer Protection Act, which he says has been rendered toothless by exemptions sought by the Dalton McGuinty government to increase taxes.

The amendment would require the government to hold a referendum or advise voters in an election prior to proceeding with a tax increase.

Hillier’s Costing of Public Bills Act would demand the Ministry of Finance calculate the price tag on any legislation and make that information available to politicians before they vote on it.

The legislative changes are especially needed as the minority Dalton McGuinty government considers a request from NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to increase the taxes of Ontarians earning $500,000 or more a year, he said.

“Today Mr. McGuinty is counting on a coalition of support from Bob Rae’s former party the NDP to raise taxes,” Hillier said. ”The NDP-Liberal coalition... informal but it is a coalition - has openly said they want to raise taxes on our most productive workers.”

Derek Fildebrandt, national director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), said his organization welcomes both bills.

“It is designed to keep the greasy hands of spendthrift politicians off of the Taxpayer Protection Act so that they cannot continue to simply write themselves amendments to it whenever it suits their needs,” Fildebrandt said. “These two bills are a good first step on putting Ontario on the road to recovery. Ontario right now faces a debt crisis not unlike that of several European states.”

A Ministry of Finance response to the proposed legislation was not immediately available.

But earlier Wednesday, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said he was not impressed by Horwath’s request for a tax increase and new spending in exchange for her support of his budget.

“That’s not what credit rating agencies are looking for,” Duncan said.