NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Third Win For Tax-Cutters In Canada

July 30, 1999

Politicians running on a pledge to cut taxes have won a third victory in Canada, this time in the province of Nova Scotia. Within the past two months, voters have also swept into power tax-cutting candidates in Ontario and New Brunswick.

Observers say the three victories signal that voters really do care about taxes, contrary to data from pollsters. "Polls show people often initially give the politically correct response to tax cuts," an adviser to Ontario's Liberal Party commented after that party's defeat in 1995. "During a campaign, public perceptions of a tax cut often shift," he added.

Political analysts note that these events in Canada hold lessons for Republican politicians in the U.S. -- where polls show that voters care more about paying down the federal debt than they do about tax reduction.

Here is a short sketch of what happened in Nova Scotia:

  • Only 18 months ago, the province's Conservative Party placed third in an election dominated by the Liberal Party.
  • But in the latest campaign, Conservative leader John Hamm attempted to sell Nova Scotians on the benefits of a 10 percent cut in tax rates -- pointing out in the process how high taxes destroy economic activity.
  • Voters apparently were swayed by the arguments because they booted the Liberal government out after it had been in power for six years -- and, in fact, the Liberals came in third.
  • The Conservatives took 29 out of 52 seats in the provincial legislature.

This fall, Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon is running for reelection on a promise to cut income taxes 6 percent. Tax cuts have also been implemented recently in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Source: Editorial, "Tax Cuts Rewarded Again," Wall Street Journal, July 30, 1999.


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