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NDP leadership contenders differ on corporate tax cuts

While candidates vying to lead the British Columbia NDP agree on much, they part ways on the question of whether or not to roll back corporate tax cuts.

At a March 31 debate in Victoria, Vancouver-Kingsway MLA Adrian Dix said he would cancel corporate tax cuts going back to 2008 and use the money to fund priorities like action on climate change, promoting public transit and "increasing tax fairness."

It was a position Dix outlined Feb. 2, and that Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth declined to comment on in a Feb. 8 scrum with reporters at the legislature.

"We're going to have a fair taxation system that's progressive," Farnworth said yesterday, when asked again about Dix's position. "Everybody pays their fair share. The era of corporate tax cuts is over."

Before considering rolling back corporate tax cuts, however, the province has to resolve the issue of the HST, which is a $2 billion tax shift onto consumers from corporations, he said. Until that's decided in a province-wide vote, promised for June 24, it makes no sense to take a "piece meal" approach, he said.

Similarly, Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan has said he would strike a fair tax commission that would look at "the total impact of the HST, provincial taxation, user fees, licences, natural resource royalties and the range of other government imposed costs on citizens and businesses ."

It's not enough to promise to consult, said Dix. "I think what the voters want is to know what you're going to do before the election," he said.

"When you hide your light under a bushel, then you don't have a mandate to do things," he said. "If you're going to make the real changes the province needs on health care, on education, on taxes, on the environment, you need to have a mandate to do it, and that's what I intend to get from the people of British Columbia."

Dix also warned people in the packed high school gymnasium against cozying up to the "mushy middle" and argued for giving the 1.4 million potential voters who stayed home in the 2009 election a reason to vote.

"There are those people within our party who say to divide and conquer is the way to win an election," said Farnworth. "I believe in bringing people together. That's my message to the members. That's how you win an election, that's how we broaden our base."

Powell River MLA Nicholas Simons has said he would strike a commission to look at taxes and that it will be necessary to raise government revenues to invest in the programs and services that are needed.

Dana Larsen, a Vancouver pro-cannabis activist, said he supports canceling all the corporate tax cuts the BC Liberal government has made since 2001.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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