Column: Ali a champ outside the ring

Last year the provincial government ordered school districts to cut administrative expenses by $54 million.

Last year the provincial government ordered school districts to cut administrative expenses by $54 million over two years.Last month, the province had second thoughts and gave the districts $25 million back to spend as they wish.

Question: Any chance the province will recognize it erred in reducing the ferry service to Bella Coola and make amends there too?

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It seems every week there’s another empty storefront in the city. I don’t like empty anything but it makes me especially sad to see the former Bil-Nor restaurant sitting alone by the highway. When I first arrived in the Cariboo, my first stop was at the Bil-Nor, then a coffee shop. Over the years it grew to a full restaurant with a hall upstairs. The name and owners changed over the years but not the popularity. It was always a favourite eating place and I attended wedding receptions, anniversaries, farewell parties, fund raisers, meetings, you name it, that were held “upstairs.” Many good memories. It was one of the few city restaurants with a view, the only shortcoming was lack of adequate parking space. And, as I aged, getting upstairs became an issue.

The building looks forlorn. I’d like to put a sign on it saying “Good times happened here.”

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The death of Muhammad Ali dominated the headlines last week and rightfully so. I’m not a boxing fan but I was an Ali fan because he was so much more than a champion in the ring. However, his death overshadowed a champion closer to home, that of Len Marchand, the first status Indian elected to Parliament. A Liberal, Len represented Kamloops Cariboo from 1968 to 1979, serving as Minister of State, then Environment Minister. He was appointed to the Senate in 1984, retired in 1998. He received the Order of Canada in 1999. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet a goodly number of politicians , and I rank Len among the best. Nothing was too small to get his attention and he had a good sense of humour, something so many politicians lack.

Too bad we can ‘t clone the good ones.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.