The P.E.I. government should hold a referendum before it brings in the HST, says a spokesman for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Kevin Lacey, the group’s director for Atlantic Canada, said it’s a major decision and taxpayers should have a say in whether it’s implemented.
“It may be the best policy but let taxpayers make that decision for themselves,” he said.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) describes itself as a citizens’ group dedicated to lower taxes, less waste and accountable government.
Lacey was in Charlottetown Monday where he was the guest speaker at the Charlottetown Rotary Club’s luncheon at the Delta Prince Edward hotel.
During his speech, Lacey said he had four suggestions for ways to help ensure governments live within their means and give taxpayers more say in decisions governments make.
Islanders pay some of the highest income tax rates in the country and the province’s debt has been increasing too fast, he said.
“This isn’t Monopoly money we’re talking about.”
But when it comes to tax increases, Lacey said they should all be put to voters in referendums.
Lacey said the CTF is in favour of harmonized sales taxes because they are more efficient and less costly to administer.
“That being said, the issue here is, it is a revenue so it is not simply moving numbers around,” he said.
Along with referendums for tax changes, Lacey would like to see the provincial government bring in balanced budget legislation, which would include a penalty whenever it runs a deficit.
It’s not a new concept, but that type of legislation has met with mixed results with some provinces changing the legislation whenever the governments were running deficits.
Lacey used Manitoba as an example of a province where balanced budget legislation penalizes politicians with a loss to part of their salary when their governments run deficits.
It gives government an incentive to meet its targets, he said, and compared it to the business world.
“If people in business have a sales target and you don’t reach it then many who work commission don’t get the same salary that they would get otherwise,” he said.
Lacey also said it’s time to cut back on the size of government because the number of employees is growing too fast and is unsustainable.
“You can only squeeze so much out of taxpayers,” he said.