18 July 2011

Free tuition at NL university for Nova Scotians: NL NDP leader

The Newfoundland and Labrador local of the New Democratic Party wants taxpayers in her province to give Nova Scotians free tuition at Memorial University.

Sounds idiotic, doesn’t it?

But that’s exactly what she wants to do, at least if you follow the thrust of Lorraine Michael’s July 8th news release.

In the release the NDP leader said that “free tuition is essential to ensuring that all of Newfoundland and Labrador’s young people get equal access to education they will need for their own, and by extension, all our prosperity.”

Wonderful stuff.

Then she cites in study released by her party president Dale Kirby, wearing his education professor hat.

Kirby and his colleagues surveyed Memorial University students from Maritime Canada and asked them some questions about why they decided on studying at Memorial University. As the executive summary in the report notes, the number of Maritime students at Memorial went up “ten-fold’ in the past decade or so. And as the report also notes, there have been other reports, most notably by news media, in which Maritime students identified cost as one of the big reasons for them coming to Memorial. They can study at a comprehensive university that has a decent reputation overall(outstanding in some faculties) and they can do it cheaper than they could at Dalhousie or Acadia or University of New Brunswick.

They come here because the tuition is cheap, they said. 

So, reasons Michael, free education for Nova Scotians will benefit Newfoundland and Labrador.

She does not explain how. 

Odds are she can’t.

That’s not important, though. 

In the world of Conservative-style retail politics, all a political party has to do is offer this sort of cash incentive to win votes. It’s like the one about cutting taxes on gasoline or home-heating products.  None of those ideas make any sense except as a way of luring voters:  give us your vote and we’ll give you cash.

The foolishness of the free tuition idea is actually right there in Michael’s release. All you have to do is think about it for a second.

You see all those Maritime students frig off back to Nova Scotia or New Brunswick or Prince Edward island once they get their Memorial University degrees.  They only come here because they can get a decent university paid on the cheap.  They don’t spend four years at Memorial because they plan to settle in Hibb’s Hole once the drinking…err…studying is done.

And if lower tuition is already bringing in the mainland students in droves, then odds are free tuition will attract droves more. The university will have to hire more professors and build more classrooms and laboratories.

And who will pay for this?

Why the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador, of course.

Now think about that a bit more.

In a province where the government is facing a pretty severe financial problem because of foolish spending, the New Democrats want to spend millions more to make university education free.  Then they’ll have to spend hundreds of millions more making the university larger to accommodate all the new students.

And where will thousands of those students come from?

Why Nova Scotia, of course, the most populous province in Atlantic Canada.

Now where else has Nova scotia cropped up lately?


Of course.

Lorraine Michael, Kathy Dunderdale, and Yvonne Jones want to spend billions on this Muskrat Falls project so they can ship cheap electrical power to Nova Scotians.  Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will pay the full cost of the power plus a profit for Nalcor and Nova Scotia-based Emera so that Nova Scotians get a break.

And this is how Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will gain a long-term benefit from their natural resources:  by selling discount electricity to Nova Scotians

That sounds an awful lot like this education scheme Lorraine and Dale have cooked up.

- srbp -