November 12, 2004
Breaching a contract with the public
Is a politician who signs a written agreement with taxpayers that he will not raise taxes if elected liable for breach of contract when he does? That issue will come before an Ontario trial court on Monday, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
The CTF is challenging Ontario's controversial Health Tax, which was passed by premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal administration and went into effect July 1. The taxpayers group argues that the tax violates the province's Taxpayer Protection Act, a 1999 law that requires a public vote on tax increases.
The more interesting claim, for contracts teachers, is a breach of contract claim against McGuinty himself. When running for election, the premier signed the CTF's "Taxpayer Protection Promise," under which he undertook "if . . . elected" to refrain from raising taxes or relying on deficit spending. McGuinty has said that when he made the promise he was not aware that the province would be facing a $5.5 billion deficit, but the taxpayer group says it has evidence that the Liberals knew of the deficit and that McGuinty, a lawyer, signed the agreement anyway.
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