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Dire times in Upper Canada, and other stuff

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I’ll be away for the next 10 days, returning to work Feb. 27, one of the costs of being empty-nesters and missing the children dearly — though we’ll try to cope.

Meanwhile, did you see all that stuff coming out of Upper Canada yesterday about the drastic cuts that the McGuinty government is considering?

Sticking just with the possible education cuts, McGuinty’s been advised to ditch his cherished plan of all-day, daily kindergarten, and to forget about capping class sizes, in fact, to go deliberately for larger class sizes.

There’s the possibility of higher tuition, dumping the promised 30 per cent tuition cut that the majority of university students don’t seem to be eligible to receive anyway, charging for some high school credits, cutting way back on EAs for special needs students....

You can read about the education portion in this Toronto Star story.

And moving on....

I keep signing up for these education mailing lists out of the States, and then the oddest stuff arrives, such as the one from a publisher flogging a new book, in which Abraham Lincoln does some time travelling, and ends up heading for the 2012 White House to give advice to President Obama. Apparently — spoiler alert! — Lincoln’s advice will include telling Obama to make way for the Republican candidate, so that the nation can be salvaged.

The publisher tells me that the book offers lots of advice on how to defeat Obama, in what the co-authors are calling a second American civil war, this time being fought on ideological grounds. She offered me a freebie review copy should I wish, so that I could help drum up popular support to dethrone the president. At least someone thinks this blog wields world-changing influence.

And I’m thinking, I should really encourage this publisher and these co-authors to do everything they can to get their message out — the louder their voices, the better the chances that Obama gets re-elected.


And another email, this time from a PR firm in an Arizona area code, pitching an article from a client that the firm wants published in our paper. It claims that 80 per cent of schools lost funding last year — maybe in the States, though there’s no source cited — and says here’s how to fight cuts.

So on I read, and I’m told that school boards must make all agenda materials public ahead of the board meeting — maybe in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and purple mountains’ majesty, but not in Winnipeg School Division.

And the offered article will explain how parents can do private fundraising to save a specific job from budget cuts, such as raising money to pay the art teacher’s salary and benefits.

So I responded, asking where in the Public Schools Act that Manitoba OKs the points raised, let me know and maybe we can do some business, and I’m still waiting to hear back.


I got a nice call this morning from a public figure who’s also a soccer parent, and who wanted to thank all referees through me. Maybe you should consider a letter to the editor, thanking everyone.

I haven’t done a kids’ game since my last rant about coaches and parents, last weekend having been a break in the schedule while kids try out for outdoor competitive teams, though I have tournament matches tonight before heading south.

It occurred to me that some of the things that parents and coaches yell is so brilliantly original, so worthy of the same status as Oscar Wilde quips-for-the-ages, that I should copyright them, and claim them as my own original work, so profound and insightful they are: "There are TWO teams on the field!!!"...."You called everything else, you’ve GOT to call THAT!!!!"...."Call it BOTH ways!!!!"...."Come aaaaawwwwwwnnnnnnn, REF!!!!" And, of course, "(Male cow) (Poop)!!!!"

Back to education...I got yet another email this week calling on Education Minister Nancy ‘Allen’ to do something about a specific issue. This one came from a province-wide organization. It’s Allan, people, with an A.

And in late breaking news, here’s a local organization wanting me to do a story about an environmental award it received — back in October.

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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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