Danielle In QP, October 31: Municipal Taxation

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Here’s another scary idea for taxpayers, the spectre of tax hikes. The Minister of Municipal Affairs has been meeting with the big-city mayors on the issue of city charters. Now, it appears that Calgary’s mayor emerged super happy with what they’ve heard so far about their quest for new tax powers. The Calgary mayor is floating the idea of several new taxes – a new municipal sales tax, a new vehicle registration tax, a new municipal tourism tax, and a new municipal fuel tax – yet the minister says that such taxing powers are not on the table. What’s the truth?

Mr. Griffiths: Mr. Speaker, the truth is exactly what I have said for an entire year as minister in this role. There’s only one taxpayer in this province. Everything that we do in this department is going to revolve around making sure that our roles and responsibilities with municipalities serve the one client we both represent, with the idea that they are one taxpayer. I’ve been clear from the beginning, and I’m just as clear now.

Ms Smith: Mr. Speaker, I’m just waiting for the minister to say, “no new taxes,” because we’re not advocating for more taxes, and given that the minister says that he’s not either, if he has given the mayor such bad news, how can he explain why they emerged from the meeting with him so super happy?

Mr. Griffiths: Mr. Speaker, I’ve been at AUMA. I’ve been at AAMD and C explaining my position. She should listen to the mayor of Edmonton, who said that he agrees with me that we don’t need new taxes. We need to make sure our roles are clear and stop listening to somebody who – I don’t know – is maybe speculating.

The Speaker: The hon. member.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Wildrose has a plan to help municipalities get the revenues they need to do the work that they need to do. It’s called our 10-10 plan. The government’s plan seems to be to have meetings, string them along, and then give them nothing. Call it a 0-0 plan. When is the government going to answer real needs with real answers?

Mr. Griffiths: Mr. Speaker, we have respected municipalities’ autonomy from the very beginning. They say that they do, but every time we turn around, they talk about their 10-10 plan, which will cut funding to municipalities by $400 million up front. Then they turn around, and every single time a municipality, whether it’s Sylvan Lake or it’s Edmonton, about the airport or the arena they come forward and say that they won’t support them. Do they support municipal autonomy, or are they going to boss everybody around?