Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

As Simon and Garfunkel sang about going to the candidates’ debate

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Yes, you’ve been bereft of news about the Winnipeg and Louis Riel Nov. 26 school board by-elections for more than a week now, and I feel your pain.

One of the WSD Ward 1 candidates told me there’s a town hall for all the candidates on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at Grant Park High School. Special needs education is the primary topic.

No word about a town hall or any kind of candidates’ forum in LRSD Ward 2.

However, LRSD school board candidate Sherry Liley and St. Vital city council by-election candidate Carl Osato will hold their own open house Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Norberry Glenlee Community Centre.

And several helpful readers have sent in emails telling me that 19-year-old LRSD candidate Jeremiah Kopp, the one who won’t give us a campaign photo, is a graduate of St. John’s-Ravenscourt School. Kopp won’t respond to my inquiries about where he went to school, but there are plenty of on-line references to his time as an SJR student, quite accomplished was he in debating competitions.

There is no reason that people involved in private schools cannot run the public school system, of course, but it’s useful information for voters to have, and some voters may choose to query the candidates.

In the WSD race, candidate Randall Znamirowski’s daughter is enrolled in private school. I am somewhat intrigued by Znamirowski’s contention that there is a consensus among parents that private schools are superior to public schools — it would be interesting to see some empirical evidence or research — but that’s part of his platform.

On to other things....

I had a great time in Upper Canada. Can’t believe we walked on the Danforth Sunday night without coats.

Saw some terrific volleyball on one of Canada’s most beautiful campuses, though I was thinking as I listened to the alleged music played in the warmups, you probably wouldn’t hear lyrics such as &^$&* or *(&*%# or _*(^@^* in a high school gym, at least not without someone’s being in serious trouble.

Another great dinner at Hot Belly Mama’s in Peterborough, the Wilde Olde Ale and Kansas City ribs as good as ever, and it’s overdue to add St. Veronus to the list of restaurants you absolutely must visit while in Peterborough. Another ancient brick building with an outstanding list of beers, the catfish exceptional.

At Antiques in the Barn, a collectibles outlet in Fowler’s Corner’s, I came across an original Winnipeg Jets’ ornament, still in the box, to adorn our pagan Yule tree in a few weeks.

I was thinking as two old friends and I walked Yonge and Bay streets during our movie binges — three indies highly recommended, The Guard, Take Shelter, and Martha Marcy May Marlene — should Paul LaPolice wish to improve the Blue Bombers’ kick return game, and certainly he should, then he should have his lads tuck a ball under their arms, and challenge them to sprint and weave at top speed on the sidewalk for at least three blocks in downtown Toronto without running into a single one of the thousands of people striding with their heads down texting and attention fully buried in a cell phone.

So we’re walking up Bay and Yonge, one of us who goes back to the 40s in Toronto, the other two the 50s — the 1950s, thank you very much — and we kept trying to figure out what used to be on the sites of all these 40-storey towers or massive construction holes throughout Condoronto. One site, up towards Bloor, there was a sign about condos running $700,000 to $900,000, and then a separate sign saying penthouse suites go from $2.2 million to $17.5 million. I figured, no way, I read that wrong, has to be 1.75, but when I went closer, it really was $17.5 million...for a glorified apartment.

Sigh.

Confess — is your life empty and meaningless without the National Basketball Association? Nope, I thought not, just checking.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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