Dozens of people showed up in Steinbach Wednesday night to hear from four of the five Provencher candidates running in the federal election. The Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidates forum at Steinbach Regional Secondary School. The only Provencher candidate not to attend was NDP Erin McGee.
Among the questions, each candidate was asked their position on taxation of middle class and how this relates to entrepreneurship.
"We think Canadians are over taxed and that's why the very, very, very first act that Andrew Scheer will do as Prime Minister of Canada will be to repeal the carbon tax," says Conservative candidate Ted Falk.
Falk says his party has also indicated a universal tax cut that will impact the lowest income tax bracket. It will save an individual about $440 per year, and the average couple about $850 annually.
The Conservatives also plan to increase contributions to the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Falk says a Conservative government will contribute an additional 50 per cent more, so that government contribution will jump from 20 to 30 per cent on RESP's.
"The primary difference between a Liberal mindset and a Conservative mindset, a Liberal person would believe that government knows best, big government, big taxes," says Falk. "Conservatives we believe in people, we think people know best, we think it's time for people to get ahead."
Falk says if elected, his government would also introduce a fitness credit of $1,000 for families with children participating in sports and an arts and learning tax credit of $500 for those involved in the arts.
"The tax credits that Ted is talking about are boutique tax credits," says Liberal candidate Trevor Kirczenow. "They are available to people who already have money."
Kirczenow says the Liberal government cut middle class taxes from 22 per cent to 20.5 per cent. This was done by increasing taxes on people earning more than $200,000 annually.
He notes over the past four years, the Liberal government also increased the Canada student grants program by 50 per cent. For low income students, grants increased from $2,000 to $3,000 per year and for middle income students the grants went up from $800 to $1,200 annually.
"We plan to do it again," he says. "We will increase Canada student grants again."
People's Party of Canada candidate Wayne Sturby says government has intruded in the lives of Canadians at a level that is getting ridiculous.
"It's time for government to take a step back and when they do, that will provide a significant reduction in expenses, therefore lowering taxes," suggests Sturby.
Sturby says it always rubs him the wrong way when governments talk about tax credits or returning money to taxpayers.
"You are simply admitting that you are taking more money than you ought to," he says. "In any other aspect of life they would call that theft."
Sturby says when the People's Party of Canada forms government they will eliminate many of these intrusions from the lives of Canadians.
"We're not looking at returning your money, we are looking at allowing you to keep your money in the first place," he says.
And, Green candidate Janine Gibson says her party's policy on taxation will support entrepreneurs by shifting taxes away from labour and towards pollution, big businesses and the oil and gas industry.
"Right now the subsidies that the oil and gas industry receives are shameful in that it is their work that is contributing to these extreme weather events that are causing stress to our farmers, stress to our food production," she says.
Gibson says government needs to look at the tax structure on how our food producers are taxed and to give tax credits for environmental services they are contributing to, such as preserving treed shelter belts and wetlands.
"We need to look at what we want to support in agriculture and shift the taxes away from the burdening the production," she says. "How you approach your food production really affects a lot in your community, not just in your own health, but the health of the world in terms of this climate change that's happening and our taxation structure can address this and give us the funds we need to shift to a greener economy."