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Johnny O drops a dime

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We were having a nice dinner at our neighbours’ Saturday night when their phone rings around 8 p.m. They answer, listen briefly, and hang up — it was a robocall from Coun. John Orlikow, endorsing lefty candidate Mark Wasyliw in this coming Saturday’s Winnipeg School Division Ward 1 by-election.

So when we get home, there’s a voice mail waiting for us, and it’s Johnny O, urging us to vote for Wasyliw.

"We need a strong progressive voice speaking out for students, parents, and teachers," said my councillor.

John, I’m wondering, though you and Mark are obviously BFF, you asked us to vote for Wah-za-loo, and yet when I interviewed the candidate a couple of weeks back, he pronounced his name Wuh-sill-yoo.

Meanwhile, there’s also a school board by-election Saturday in Ward 2 of Louis Riel School Division.

Yesterday I received an email from Facebook; seems that LRSD candidate Sherry Liley wants to be Facebook friends with me.

Um, no, that’s not going to happen. I certainly don’t want any politician or would-be politico accessing the messages I share with family and friends, and knowing all about me. In all the time I’ve been blathering and ranting on this blog, I’ve never identified my wife, child the elder, or child the younger by name.

Moving on, but returning to Wasyliw....yet another email, this time from someone who wants me to write a story telling people not to vote for Wasyliw, and providing links to several Free Press stories about court cases in which candidate Wasyliw is the defence attorney.

So I responded to this reader, I told him I’d read the links he provided, I’m certainly aware that Wasyliw’s role in the justice system is to protect the rights of people who are presumed innocent, and what was this reader seeing that I wasn’t in these stories that would compel him to urge an anti-Wasyliw story?

And I haven’t heard back from him.


I had that attitude even before child the elder enrolled in law school. As always, this reminds me of a story. One day when I was covering city hall, I had to fill in for the police reporter at the daily morning police briefing, this being when the briefings were run by a civilian staffer instead of a uniformed officer. And he told us that the police had made an arrest just before midnight the previous night, and thereby had solved a series of crimes, a bunch of armed stickups, if I’m recomembering rightly.

This was at 10:30 a.m., and I pose the question: am I to assume, said I with nary a trace of condescension or arrogance, that since police have solved these crimes, that sometime in the past 11 hours, during the middle of the night, this suspect received a trial before judge and jury, and was found guilty and convicted of the charges against him?


In other education stuff.....

The International Reading Association is accepting nominations through for its annual award to honour a teacher doing outstanding work to encourage reading. The award will be presented at the assocation’s annual meeting in Chicago in the spring.

And this segues into my covering the organization’s big meeting here in the city a few years ago, and listening as the members throughout the day constantly referred to themselves as the IRA, without the slightest hint of humour or irony.

Shifting gears.....

I wrote a story last week about the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association, which you can read.

It’s about students who appeal successfully for an extra season of varsity sports eligibility, then drop out of high school after their season is finished.

Dennis, you’ll remember Jim W, surely, back in the day. There was junior varsity for grades 9 and 10, then varsity for grades 11 through 13, and Jim was on the football team. Back then the students got eight years of eligibility, none of the 18-and-younger age limits the MHSAA has, and each year Jim would return to school and start Grade 13 for the third or fourth time, play football, and then drop out. He must have been in his 20s when he left for the last time.


I’m wondering if the school yard at Carpathia School is officially an off-leash dog park.

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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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