Letters to the Editor – Nov. 4, 2009

Ineffective Tuition Fee Campaigns

The CFS, through ex UMSU President Jonny Sopotiuk, repeatedly makes calls for the province to make tuition free (as recently as a press release on September 29th and on their targetpoverta.ca website). Whenever you talk to anyone from these circles about fees, you typically hear the repeated phrase, “well in Europe post secondary education is free.” What people consistently neglect to mention is that those Europeans pay a lot more taxes. Free education is not free. The money has to come from somewhere! Sweden and Denmark are regularly used as comparisons against our tuition fees. But people neglect to mention that they also have the highest net income taxes in the world. While Canada’s net income tax is around 50% (combining federal and provincial income taxes as well as GST/PST/HST), the two aforementioned countries have net taxes of at least 60%; both Denmark and Sweden have Value Added Tax rates of 25% while our GST/PST in Manitoba is 13%. They also use many indirect taxes on income (deducted before they even reach the pay slip) making the actual tax rate closer to 70% in many cases.

It is entirely misleading to argue for major reductions in tuition fees and not disclose how they will be paid for. If anyone in student government wants to make a convincing argument for tuition reduction, they need to estimate what it will cost the taxpayer. Without doing so, no one will ever take their constant noise seriously. The Canadian government gets about 33% of its revenues through taxation. The Scandinavian countries (and France, another popular comparison tool) get around 50% of their revenues from taxes. Do the math; they tax their citizens and business a heck of a lot more. I am not arguing either against or for increased taxes, just for the disclosure of this information when attempting to make their case.

I am entirely disappointed that some of the Student Union fees I pay (as well as every other student on this campus) are going towards these ill conceived and ineffective campaigns.

Adam Alkins


Though I quite enjoyed the rest of the newspaper, it’s a shame that The Manitoban is consistently tarnishing its reputation by printing misleading articles in its Comment section. Week after week, Manitoban readers are subjected to the inane writings of none other than the newspaper’s own Managing Editor, Omar Al Ramlawi, and Sarah Khalil, the new “International Coordinator,” a position that appears to have only been created to espouse Khalil’s prejudiced views of the Middle East. My objective is not to destroy the journalistic ambitions of these writers. However, any decent editorial or opinion piece requires a balanced, deep look at an issue – traits that are lacking in many of the aforementioned writers’ articles. The horrendous tragedies occurring in Darfur are labeled as propaganda. The very highly controversial and offensive Norman Finkelstein is called “a source of amazing inspiration” and “an advocate for human rights and peace”. And finally, the Goldstone Report is termed a “glimpse of hope”, despite much criticism in its methodology, and the fact that it was commissioned under Human Rights Council Resolution S-9/1. The report’s mandate was to investigate “violations” by Israel, called the “Occupying power”, which predisposed the report’s conclusions from the outset, and thereby did not allow a fair account of the situation. Though Khalil’s article stretched well beyond the 1000-word maximum, she found no space to mention that detail, or any Palestinian transgressions.

U of M students deserve better from their newspaper editorial staff than for them to use their positions as a forum for their own “against the grain” views of the Middle East.

Eyal Kraut