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LETTERS – for Oct. 23, 2008

CWB needed now more than ever

Several decades of deregulation championed by Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, U. S. president Ronald Reagan, Canada’s Brian Mulroney, and their biggest cheerleader, Stephen Harper, have come home to roost with the global market meltdown.

Of course we have been here before. For farmers the real depression started in 1921 with the loss of the first Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). They and their wheat pool co-operatives had spent most of the 1920s building up their own dual-market version of the CWB, which they called the Central Selling Agency. When capitalism and free enterprise blew itself apart in a cloud of greed and self-delusion in 1929, the Central Selling Agency was destroyed as well.

Farmers were faced with the task of dealing with an even more unstable and dangerous system on their own, so they lobbied ferociously and got the Canadian Wheat Board Act passed in 1935. It took several years of losses totalling hundreds of millions of dollars before Ottawa learned what farmers knew: a dual market cannot work. Finally, in 1942, Ottawa proclaimed the single-desk provisions passed within the 1935 CWB Act.

One wonders how much more destruction and instability Stephen Harper and his Conservative cronies need to see before they abandon their impractical ideological vendetta against the CWB. In the face of the global market meltdown, it is obvious there is no realistic alternative to the CWB’s single-desk selling authority and price pooling. As their retirement investments go up in smoke, too many people are finding out the so-called market is a highly defective and unstable institution. All of Stephen Harper’s cheerleading cannot change the fact that in a very risky and unstable world, we need the CWB more than ever.

Ken Larsen Benalto, Alta.

Remove school taxes from all properties

I attended a school tax rally at the legislature grounds May 3 sponsored by the Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners. The rally promoted removal of school taxes off all properties in Manitoba.

I had to listen to the Manitoba government rhetoric about how it had reduced school taxes on properties through the elimination of the Education Support Levy, and School Tax Rebates and Tax Credits.

I own a cottage in Lakeshore School Division and have a permanent residence in Interlake School Division.

The net school tax on my cottage in 2005 was $471.59, increasing to $554.82 in 2006, a 17.5 per cent increase. My net school taxes increased to $585.60 in 2007 (+5.5 per cent), and increased to $971.95 in 2008 (+66 per cent). Total net school tax increase on my cottage over three years was 89 per cent.

As the Manitoba government was eliminating the Education Support Levy, school taxes on my cottage were increasing at a greater level due to increasing assessments, and the fact that I do not receive a tax rebate on my cottage property.

The Alberta government has recognized the effect of increasing assessments, and adjusts its mill rate annually so that school taxes do not increase.

I pay almost four times as much in school taxes as does my brother in Alberta on my principal residence. Three provinces, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island have eliminated school taxes on properties.

Manitoba has the highest school taxes on properties of all the provinces. What can be done to encourage the Manitoba government to remove school taxes from all properties?

Two recent developments have made this even more urgent. A recent moratorium on school closures by the Manitoba government with the intent of putting day care in the schools, and using school taxes to subsidize day care. Also the proposed Bill 46 where property taxes from education funding would be diverted into community revitalization projects. Both will result in increased school taxes on properties.

Larry Baker Stonewall, Man.

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or e-mail: [email protected](subject: To the editor)

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