Olivia Chow backs off new municipal tax idea

Olivia Chow. (Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency files)

Olivia Chow. (Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency files)

Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 8:00 PM ET

OTTAWA - New Democrat MP Olivia Chow flatly denies she supports a so-called penny tax to pay for municipal infrastructure.

"I'm not advocating or calling for it - period," Chow said Wednesday.

The Toronto MP, rumoured to be making a mayoral bid in 2014, is upset with a QMI Agency story about her floating the idea of a 1% municipal sales tax.

She tried to convince the Commons transport and infrastructure committee last month to study five "potential policy options," including a municipal sales tax, but the Tories rejected the idea.

"Those are the ideas that I don't necessarily support," Chow said. "I said that at the committee."

The NDP's 2008 election platform included a promise to devote 1% of GST revenue to fund "the important priorities of our cities" - a demand from New Democrat and former Toronto mayor David Miller.

The NDP didn't repeat the commitment in the 2011 election, proposing instead to send one cent of every federal gas tax dollar to cities for public transit.

The City of Toronto, where Chow was once a city councillor, said a "penny tax" would create an estimated $1.3 billion annual windfall.

Chow said only provincial governments can give municipalities new taxing powers, so does she just consider the study a helpful exercise?

"Yeah," Chow said.

Conservative MP Ted Menzies is skeptical.

"We can try and articulate it however we want, but when I hear someone put forward an idea I usually think the reason they put it forward is because they think it's a good idea," the secretary of state for finance said.


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