The choice is clear, Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum said Thursday -- a re-elected NDP that smiles on teachers and lavishes money on public education, or a Brian Pallister apocalypse of cuts and job losses.
"Despite what the polls may say, we're not going to back down from the big bad wolf at the door," Allum told the annual convention of the Manitoba Teachers' Society.
Allum laid out a wide-ranging variety of bogeypersons and bogey-parties, from the rotating strikes the B.C. teachers are taking against government cuts, to the Filmon Tory education cuts here in the 1990s, to the huge cuts to public spending forming the central plank in Conservative Leader Tim Hudak's platform in the current Ontario election.
"Think about what can happen here," Allum warned the teachers union in his speech. "Jobs will be on the line."
Allum said the NDP has increased funding every year and more teachers have been hired. "Education is at the core of our government's agenda, because it is at the core of a vibrant society," he said.
Stack that up against an opposition with "a vision that wants to cut the heart out of the classroom," he said.
Pallister, leader of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives, said teachers more than any group should recognize Allum's comments were fear- mongering from a desperate NDP government.
"I would say they would come from a point of desperation on his part and that they are futile," Pallister said. "One thing teachers do is they do their homework. Teachers will look at my record. They will research it. They will find my support for public education has never wavered. They will find it has in fact strengthened."
Allum said in an interview Pallister has not made specific threats to education, but "has committed to cutting $500 million from the budget."
That would mean at least $50 million in annual cuts to education, said Allum, "larger class sizes, fewer teachers, no new schools, no new gyms."