Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Teacher feels MTS openly supporting the NDP

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TRANSCONA teacher Michael Thompson is pretty upset with his union -- the Manitoba Teachers' Society is openly supporting the NDP, he said yesterday.

"They're at it again," said Thompson, who made the same complaint during the 1999 election campaign.

Thompson said the River East Transcona Teachers Association delivered letters to teachers at work this week, listing five questions that teachers should put to candidates in the June 3 provincial election.

"The questions are pitifully pro-NDP, and attacking the Progressive Conservatives," Thompson said.

"We don't see it that way," MTS president Brian Ardern said yesterday.

"It's our list of questions we've provided to our associations," he said, emphasizing MTS is not telling teachers how to vote.

"There are nearly 14,000 teachers -- we want them involved, we want them asking questions. They care about standards tests, they care about the length of the school year," Ardern said.

One question's preamble says the Tories cut or froze funding through the 1990s at the cost of 800 teachers' jobs. How will candidates avoid such cuts if the Conservatives remove education funding from residential property taxes, says the letter.

"I think that's legit," said Ardern, who stressed that candidates should be able to defend the impact of their promises.

Another question says the NDP has added $87 million in education funding over four years and has promised increases will match provincial growth -- what will other parties do? the letter urges teachers to ask candidates.

Thompson said not all teachers are New Democrats. "Once again, MTS is using their money to work against them," he said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 28, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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