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Random mutterings as I head east

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I’ll be away for the next week, going to Upper Canada primarily to watch child the younger play university volleyball, back on Nov. 8.


Was there a school board candidate who didn’t win a seat who’s as promising as Gurpreet Brar in River East Transcona? You have to hope he’ll try again.

And in another school board matter.....

Derek Dabee, whom I interviewed about cricket a few years back, won a seat on Seven Oaks board. Dabee promised during the campaign that he’d be "a congenial Mike Babinsky", so I’m hoping he’ll stir things up on the Seven Oaks board — congenially, of course — and memorize my phone number and email address.

And a campaign story I didn’t do.....

Guy started contacting me a day or two before the election, claiming that a candidate kept putting unauthorized signs on his lawn. Guy kept tearing them out, candidate kept replacing them, several times each day and night. Guy says the candidate broke into his garage to retrieve the signs he’d stacked up in there.

Of course, he didn’t see any of this happen, and he thought it ridiculous when I asked if he’d actually called the candidate to talk about these allegations.

Every election brings all kinds of sign squabbles.

Joyce Bateman was telling me — hang on, I should emphasize that she wasn’t looking for a story — about someone(s) going down Kingsway last weekend, changing all her signs to Batman. Didn’t hurt, she got more votes than any other trustee candidate in the province, and more votes than most city councillors. I’m still wondering who Robin will be on the board, but I digress. Or the Joker. Wait, no, I know that one. Back to the topic.

I learned early on in southwestern Ontario back in the 70s not to do sign stories. I got suckered into doing a story when an incumbent complained about stolen and damaged signs, blamed the opponent, who proclaimed innocence, and a few days later, police charged the incumbent’s teenager with wrecking his own parent’s signs to make the opponent look bad.


The new trustees haven’t even been sworn in yet, and already I’m in trouble.

I called Bryan Metcalfe, one of the six new trustees on St. James-Assiniboia school board. End of the interview, Metcalfe was quite surprised when he asked to review my article before publication, and I told him we don’t do that.

Now, if someone’s never dealt with the media before, I’d cut him or her some slack. Metcalfe is a former publisher of community weekly papers, but he seemed surprised that we don’t do that.

He called me back a little later and told me I didn’t have permission to quote him on anything he said, and that he wanted to give me a statement that I could publish. I said, several times, that it doesn’t work that way, that I identify myself and say I’m calling to interview him, and I ask my questions. People can choose to answer or not to answer, and then I write my story.


New trustees may not be aware that all those numbers and email addresses you supplied to the city clerk’s office when you filed your nomination papers, were posted on the city’s election website.

I may be the only one who printed them out and also copied them into our contact lists....or I may not be.

Not so long ago, they also posted addreses, but no longer.

In another matter.....

I was getting car rental insurance for the car we’re using in Upper Canada, and went to the insurance agency which has handled our Autopac and house insurance for years.

Where are you getting the car?, says the company functionary.

At Pearson, terminal three, says I.

Blank look.

The airport, I said.

Blank look.

In Toronto, says I.

To which she replies, "Is that in Canada?"

All together now, one...two....three....SIGH.

Of course, what blog would be complete without soccer?

I had a refereeing first this past week, the first time a coach has contacted me at work to express displeasure with me.

I did six games at Coverall on that previous weekend, a pitch at which teams are only allowed to use indoor balls. Some coaches, especially at youth competitive level, don’t like their kids to play with indoor balls, so they only bring outdoor balls, and then tell me I’ve got to use common sense and allow the outlawed balls rather than send them off in search of an indoor ball or even call off the match.

So seven of 12 teams brought outdoor balls, and I duly reported it to my superiors, and teams apparently received a stern reminder about the rules. And one coach didn’t like my having tattled, to the extent that he emailed me at work last Monday, using my work email, and not the Hotmail I use for all my personal life soccer dealings.

Not that big a deal, maybe, but the first time in four years and more than 300 matches that I heard from a coach after a match.

But still, I contend that I took far more abuse as a youth community coach than I have as a referee. So far at least, since I started refereeing, I have not been prevented from going to my car safely after a match, no one has physically threatened me, no one has come to my house, no one has phoned my wife trying to enlist her support to get me to quit, and no one has sued me.

So far.

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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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