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Encountering candidates in unexpected places

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I was leaving my soccer match Saturday afternoon, walking back to my car on the street in behind Glenlawn Collegiate, when someone in a car that had pulled up alongside me started calling my name.

I thought, oh heckdarn fudge sugar, some of those parents who’ve been yelling at me know who I am.

But no, it was Education Minister Nancy Allan, out campaigning with a couple of volunteers.

Two things — you usually don’t see the candidate driving, they’re usually surgically attached to their cellphone while one of the campaign workers does the driving. And Allan doesn’t have her name and picture and party affiliation plastered all over the car.

Allan offered me an NDP sign, and I politely declined.

But I thought later — Nancy, if you really were asking for my support, and if the anonymous comments posted on our website in response to my blogs are any indication of the enormous respect and esteem in which I’m held by the Winnipeg electorate, you’d be far better off asking me to support your Tory opponent.

Moving right along and staying with the election....

I was in the Tuxedo Safeway for the first time in ages — they had a really sweet Air Miles deal — and I get to the checkout, and instead of a bunch of National Inquirers, I see a horde of Heather Stefansons.

Know those plastic thingees they have so you can separate your groceries from the people in front and behind you?

Stefanson, the incumbent Tory MLA for Tuxedo riding who’s running for re-election, has supplied all the plastic separator thingees, with Heather Stefanson MLA on them, the phone number of the constituency office, and her photo. Down at the bottom is ‘a paid public service announcement’.

Never seen those before.

Over to other education stuff...

River East Transcona school board has elected Peter Kotyk as chair for the next year.

Kotyk has come a long way since he and former trustee Rod Giesbrecht were doing their Butch and Sundance routine and getting censured by the rest of the board.

So, Peter, heads up — oops, I mean, excuse me, Mr. Chair — I’ll be calling to ask whatever happened to that idea about which you once felt so strongly, to rename Wayoata School in honour of one-time student Terry Fox.

More education....

So I drop child the elder in Victoria, we spend two wonderful days together there, he phones home last week to tell us how incredibly well everything is going, and on Friday afternoon there’s an earthquake off Vancouver Island felt as far away as Seattle and Kamloops.

We were really good, we didn’t phone, we knew he was in class, and he later says on Facebook that he thanks everyone for their concern, but he didn’t fell any tremors.


And I’ve resisted contacting University of Victoria to find out if his faculty is earthquake-resistant, and what the tsunami warning system is on campus, and where’s the best high ground nearest the law faculty. I’m thinking, the stadium is pretty much next door, and the stands on the one side looked pretty high and solid.

Sticking with UVic....

I was surprised to learn how popular ultimate is as a university sport, varsity, not intramural. Apparently, because it’s self-regulated by players’ honesty and doesn’t have a referee, it’s not a sanctioned sport, and having earlier played a varsity sport in university won’t affect years of eligibility.

Awaiting word of the tryout process.

This just’s trustee Rita Hildahl’s turn to chair the Winnipeg School Division board.

Getting back to soccer....

Some of you may have read the attacks upon me on my blog by an anonymous 20-year-old referee, whose reaction to my recent blog about soccer advetures this spring and summer was rather negative.

I’m wondering if she’ll let me know personally just how incompetent and useless and unfit to continue I am, what with all these upcoming sessions we have, of the referees’ AGM, and the fitness tests and refresher sessions for indoor soccer.

Of course, that would mean stepping out from behind the cloak of invisibility of anonymous internet handles, revealing her identity, facing her target, and acting like a grown-up.

Harumph, he said self-righteously.

Back to education for a sec.....

Peripatetic Winnipeg School Division trustee Mike Babinsky is off to Turkey this time, where he hopes — travelling on his own dime — to visit a school or two.

Remember back when on one of those trips he went to Ukraine, and came back to report to the board on schools there that were than cash-strapped? Babinsky reported that Ukrainian teachers sometimes taught without being paid, and they’d help out by cleaning the washrooms after school each day. He implied those might be good ideas here, which really went over with the union.

Let’s see what facts he finds this time.

So much for my attention span, over to soccer again....

I had my first experience this week with Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association’s ban on smoking at its fields. I had figured that when it happened, the problem would be with a spectator, but no, it was the coach of a competitive-level 14-year-old boys’ team.

Said coach wandered a few steps away from his bench and lit up. I saw him, stopped the match, and reminded him that there is no smoking at WYSA fields, which in this case, comprised a chunk of real estate roughly the size of the Ponderosa.

So off he strolls to the fence that separates the complex from Taylor Avenue, leans his cigarette-bearing arm over the fence, and continues puffing. That satisfied the letter of the law, but certainly not the spirit.

And all the time, the boys on both teams were watching the role model smoke at their game.


In other events....

Maybe I should suggest to one of my email correspondents that he and I take it a step at a time.

OK, so Doug Speirs shouldn’t lose any sleep worrying that I want to be a humour columnist.

And to come at my point backwards, having given the punchline ahead of the alleged joke, here’s one of these emails I get two or three times a week, and for the life of me I can’t figure out the scam, unless maybe hitting reply would somehow doom me:

"Hello, Am Mr David Marvel and i will like to order ladders from your company, can i know their prices in range and the method of payment you do accept.I wish to start business with your good company so i look forward for your valued reply . Have a nice day ! Best Regard, David Marvel"

To which, Mr. Marvel, I can only say, Shazam.

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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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