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Play fair, says candidate

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A month to go, and the byelections are getting snippy. Or Ward 1 of Winnipeg School Division, at least.

Candidate Evan Thompson emailed me to tell me he’s filed a complaint against candidate Ben Shedden. Thompson said that Shedden is using wire and metal in his signs, which violates election regulations.

City hall tells me metal can’t be used in signs, because if they fall down or get left behind, they could become projectiles when city crews come to mow the boulevards. Complaints go to 311, which tells the bylaw-enforcement people, who take 48 to 96 hours to investigate, says the city.

Thompson says Shedden is moving his signs regularly to stay ahead of the bylaw-enforcement officers.

Shedden hasn’t got back to me, but his website and blog say he has 50 signs which he moves around to make maximum use of a low budget.

Meanwhile......

Thompson was telling me that as he went door to door in a particular neighbourhood in the ward, people told him that they would not enrol their kids in the local school because it offered a low-quality of education. Instead, they’re going some distance to another school.

I asked Thompson what the parents told him when he asked why the quality of education was allegedly low in their local school.

He didn’t ask, Thompson told me: "Specific schools, you’re getting beyond the role of a trustee," he told me.

Oh.

OK, I didn’t know that. I would have thought... Never too old to learn, I guess.

In other byelection stuff....

I finally found out why I never heard anything in the 2010 election about WSD Ward 1 candidate Brenda Poersch, who’s contesting the byelection. She did a mass brochure mailing by postal code, said Poersch, who didn’t have a website that time around. She’s heard delivery was really hit and miss.

"I’m in the ward. I didn’t get one, but my neighbour did," said Poersch.

On to other things....

This has been quite the few days for controversial stories. I received an email from correspondent M, who unleashed a diatribe against U of M president David Barnard over his apology for the university’s role in residential schools.

I’m wondering, Mr. or Ms. M, since you communicated your vicious attack against Barnard on Manitoba Public Insurance email, were you speaking on behalf of MPI? And could I get your job title for a follow-up story?

Moving along....

I was at Glenwood School this week, where Education Minister Nancy Allan announced pretty vague details about the implementation of the Selinger government’s plans to cap class size to 20 kids in kindergarten to Grade 3.

Allan got quite choked up when she started speaking — it was her first time in a school since winning re-election. "Three weeks after an election campaign, there’s no place I’d rather be," said an emotional Allan.

My first time in Glenwood School, though not my first connection with the school. I’ve been receiving calls for the school for years; my cell phone is one digit off the school’s number.

There now — where else would you get such essential information?

Um, the school is giving whistleblowers and secret informants my correct cell number when the wrong number goes the other way, isn’t it?

As I was going back to my car, I noticed the "no trespassing after dark" sign on the school’s fence, and it was posted with the authority of St. Vital School Division No. 5. Nine years after amalgamation, and still some rebels hiding in the hills, eh, Terry?

And some whining....

I look forward to my Leisure Guide volleyball program every week, but it’s never a good sign to see the facilitator standing with his bag of volleyballs outside Carpathia School. When the school needs the gym, the division is supposed to alert the city, which leaves us a voicemail telling us that it’s cancelled and we’re not to come that night.

No message, no volleyball, much disappointment.

Sigh.

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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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