The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The #FakeNews champion of Winnipeg mimics the Master

Sometimes stories for The Black Rod get loaded and ready to go, only to be sidetracked by server problems. Since timing is everything, unless the problem is solved quickly, the stories get dumped.

But sometimes, we get lucky.  And we can salvage one of those stories. Like today. 

 Winnipeg columnist Dan Lett's latest screed against Donald Trump  ended with this snippet of Lett wisdom:

"There is so much fake news floating around the interweb that it is becoming more and more difficult to discern real, professionally produced news from that which seeks to debase and derail democratic exercises and institutions."

We can't resist. 
 Back in November we addressed another of Lett's hare-brained columns but he's now made what we wrote more relevant than ever:
(originally written Nov. 20, 2016)
Amazing. Simply amazing.

With media circles throughout North America awash with debate and commentary over the role that so-called 'fake news' played in electing Donald Trump as President, the Winnipeg Free Press decided it was a perfect time to---wait for it---publish some fake news.

FP writer Dan Lett, wearing his 'Make the NDP Great Again' cap, cobbled together an attack on the new Progressive Conservative government for---wait for it--- making the NDP look bad.

"PCs love scandals so much they make them up" screamed the headline reflecting Lett's wild claim that the Tories got officials from the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission to lie to a Legislature committee to put the blame on the NDP for forcing the LCC to sign a lease, before the election they knew they would lose, to build the largest liquor store in the entire country in downtown Winnipeg.

You read that right.  Under the NDP's watch, the LC signed a binding lease for a 55,000 square foot "flagship" liquor mart , the largest in all of Canada, in the mega-million-dollar development known as True North Square.  Imagine a space that's 4 1/2 times the size of the Grant Park liquor store.

Liquor board chairwoman Polly Craik and CEO Peter Hak said the NDP "directed" the board to sign the lease and that they could find no documentation to support the decision - like a business plan.

Liar, liar pants on fire, said Dan Lett.  The Free Press had obtained "documents" as well as "additional information" from "sources close to the deal" which "confirm that planning for the new Liquor Mart was robust and completely out in the open."  

* The first sign of fake news is when the writer cites "documents" but fails to say what documents they are, to quote from the alleged documents, or to link to the supposed documents.  

*  The second sign is using anonymous sources to support the alleged information in the alleged documents. 

Uh, oh.

Now, everybody in town knows who the "sources close to the deal" are. They're undoubtedly the same 
"with intimate knowledge of the project" that Lett cites later in his story.  

We may not know them by name, but everyone knows Lett's sources are NDP hacks using him to discredit the Conservatives and forestall this and future NDP scandals.  

The immediate suspects are  Ron Lemieux, former Minister responsible for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation;  Winston Hodgins, former President, Business Development, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries and Susan Olynik, former Vice President, Corporate Communications & Social Responsibility.

But back to the alleged documents.  Sadly, Lett tipped his hand when he wrote too transparently:

"Remarkably, when he was asked about the story, Pallister decided to double-down on the deception. He claimed the documentation obtained by the Free Press was not related to the True North project. Sources with intimate knowledge of the project said the concept outlined in the document described exactly what was agreed to between True North and MLL."

The "document" in question turns out to be an RFP -- request for proposal -- issued in January of 2015 seeking a consultant to (as described by an internet commenter in the know who calls himself CLLEW)  
" study the "feasibility" of a new liquor mart concept called "Liquor Mart Occasions", a store that incorporates a liquor store, along with space devoted to specialty foods, a brewery, lotto tickets and a conference room available for rental or special promotion."

The consultant studied the "feasibility" of the concept and Lett's 'sources with intimate knowledge' said the flagship liquor mart was the concept applied. 

Lett wrote that  the planning was "completely out in the open." 

He expects readers to believe that everybody knew that leased space would be a "multi-faceted food-and drink hub with a large grocery store component."

Except that the True North news release mentioned nothing of the sort, only that the LC was on board for a "flagship liquor mart", whatever that was supposed to mean.  The Convention Centre knew more and told reporters  "Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is expected to open a flagship liquor/food mart."  

There was talk of a grocery store planned for True North Square, but never in connection with the liquor mart. So even the, er, claim that everybody knew the details of the NDP's plan is fake.

Fake news supported by fake documents buffered by fake sources. 

Are we talking Dan Lett or Dan Rather?

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What you didn't hear at the Craig McDougall inquest

Craig McDougall was not a nice guy.  He was a violent drunk with a penchant for attacking and hurting women.
But the three police officers who confronted him at his father's home in the early morning of Aug. 2, 2008 didn't know that.  

In the space of 90 seconds or less their interaction escalated to the point where the 26-year-old McDougall was shot three times at point blank range by one of the policemen. He died of his wounds less than an hour later.

Our laws protect the worst in society and upstanding citizens equally. A mandatory inquest is to be called whenever someone dies either at the hands of police or while in police custody. 

An inquest is not a public inquiry, but it is supposed to determine how and why a person died, if there should be any recommendations to prevent the circumstances that led to that death, and, in this case, whether there was any indication that systemic racism on the part of Winnipeg police played any part in the death, given that McDougall was aboriginal.

Ironically given the speed that police shot and killed McDougall, the inquest into his death was mysteriously delayed for eight years.  Yes, EIGHT YEARS.

That alone raises suspicions.  An inescapable question is whether a public airing of what happened that morning was deliberately stalled. And that question leads to "why?" Was it because authorities were hiding something? And if so, what?
Was it...

* the fact that police officers in Winnipeg were provided for a year before the shooting of Craig McDougall, and up to six years afterward, with malfunctioning tasers and the police department knew it?

* that McDougall wasn't the first aboriginal man to be shot "in the line of duty" by the same police officer?  The first died some years later and his family blames his death on complications from the shooting.

* that sources say the policeman who killed McDougall once had his gun taken away until he was cleared by a psychiatrist following allegations made against him by an angry estranged girlfriend. What his wife thought is unknown.

* that the officer who shot McDougall and the officer who shot a taser at him first were witnesses in the prosecution of a policeman charged with kicking an aboriginal man, while the man was in a jail cell, so hard that he suffered a tear to his bowel. One was the partner of the accused and the other was a supervisor who said the arrested man made no complaint to him. The officer was acquitted. That case took SIX YEARS to come to trial.

The eight year delay in getting the Craig McDougall inquest started was so egregious that on the last day the presiding judge felt compelled to apologize to McDougall's father. Yet there was little effort to determine why the process took such an inordinately long time.

The homicide detective in charge of the internal police investigation of the killing of Craig McDougall alone took two whole years to complete his report.  The inquest was told it was because he had to work on other homicides in between.

What nobody pointed out was that Craig McDougall's death WAS a homicide and should have had the same priority as any other police investigation.  What that means is that the detective pre-judged the matter, clearing the police in his mind without fully investigating the circumstances. 

Sergeant Robert Scott Bell, now retired, conceded that the police involved in the shooting got kid-glove treatment while McDougall's family was treated like criminals.  McDougall's father, uncle and a friend were roughed up, hauled to the police station, kept handcuffed for 40 minutes, questioned, videotaped and not told that McDougall was dead for hours.  

The police were advised they had "a right to provide a statement", then turned over to union reps, police and their family as soon as possible.   

"All three provided unsworn written statements three days after the shooting and were never questioned about their statements, Bell testified."   (Winnipeg Free Press)

Bell concluded, naturally, that the police had to shoot Craig McDougall because he refused to drop the knife he was holding as he approached them.

He compounded his breezy approach to the killing of McDougall when he mockingly testified  that the members of McDougall's family were free to leave the police station whenever they wanted since they were witnesses and not under arrest.  

What Bell forgot was that McDougall was shot in 2008 b.c.---before cellphones.  In the past year we've watched time and again the murders of black men in the United States by police officers caught on cellphone video.  

The video evidence often contradicted the official reports which insisted the police had no choice but to shoot and kill men who were (not) armed, we saw police planting weapons near the bodies of men they shot, we saw men shot in the back, men shot walking away and not toward police, men shot as their family members pleaded with police not to shoot. 

These videos have changed the onus of police shootings. 

The public now wants firm proof of what happened, not the carefully orchestrated and lawyered statements of the shooting police officers.  Associate Chief Judge Anne Krahn should have known that.  Instead, she didn't even require that the Crown produce Bell's report as evidence.
As a result, we, the public, don't really know what happened that morning on Simcoe Street. 

But a careful reconstruction of the 90 seconds before McDougall was shot indicates a possible scenario that was never discussed, or even contemplated, by the lawyers at the inquest who haven't the slightest concept of what life in the Inner City is like.

Police were sent to 788 Simcoe St. on a call of someone having been stabbed. The first to arrive was a patrol sergeant who testified he went up to the house with his gun out already.  He knocked and a small child answered the door (at 5:09 a.m.) He barely had time to say "Hi" when another person came up behind the little boy. That second he heard a female officer yelling "Male's got a knife, drop the knife."

Just after the sergeant arrived, a cruiser car with two patrol officers---one male, one female--- pulled up.  While the sergeant was at the door, the female officer shone her flashlight around the side of the house to the back and  there she saw Craig McDougall in the alley.  He must have been attracted by the light because he walked from the lane to Simcoe Street.

All three police officers were in the yard and he was separated from them by a fence, indicating he cut through his neighbour's yard not his father's yard. As he rounded the corner of his father's house, the female officer saw he had a knife in his right hand. A reporter described it as  the blade pressed up against his wrist, the tip towards his elbow.
"Knife! Knife! He has a knife!" the policewoman said she yelled.

McDougall was on his cellphone talking with his girlfriend during the whole encounter. She heard male and female voices demanding that McDougall drop a knife, providing proof that he did indeed have the weapon in his hands.  Of course, yelling at someone at the top of your lungs is the best way to communicate, as everyone knows. 

The sergeant ordered the male officer to get his taser out. As McDougall began to enter the yard, he was shot with the taser, which didn't embed itself cleanly and had no effect.  

The inquest was told by one officer that one Taser probe stuck in McDougall's stomach and the other went over his shoulder. Another witness said that the second probe stuck in McDougall's pant leg. Go figure.

Evidence markers were placed on the street outside the yard, suggesting that's where the Taser was used. Evidence was that McDougall was tasered when he was 14 feet away from the police (about the distance to the gate) and shot at 9 feet.

When McDougall entered the yard, he carried the knife at shoulder level, the officer who shot him said.

"I fired my service pistol," he testified. "There was no other option. I was in fear for my life, the other officers lives, the small child and anyone else in the residence."

The question here is did McDougall know the people on his father's doorstep were police?

Where were the police cars parked? In front of the house where they were unmistakeable or off to the side? Were they marked cars? How were the police officers dressed? It was a hot night; McDougall was outside without a shirt. Were the police dressed all in black? What was the lighting like. Does a street light illuminate the front yard? Or was the yard in shadow?

Just because someone yells they're a cop doesn't mean they're a cop. Anyone in the inner city will tell you that. 

Did Craig McDougall see three people dressed in black on his dad's doorstep in the middle of the night and fear they were gang members or thieves?  Did he raise his knife to defend himself from the supposed threat? Remember, it appears he didn't raise the knife until after he was hit by the taser. Was he acting in self-defence?

The answers may lie in the police report of the shooting--- but that's a closely guarded secret. 

The inquest was told that police practice has changed since McDougall was shot.  Nowadays, police are supposed to work hard to "de-escalate" a situation before killing someone.  

We eagerly await the results of an investigation by the Independent Investigation Unit of the newly created Police Commission into the police shooting of Mark Dicesare in November, 2015. Surrounded by 25 police cars following a chase through city streets,  he was blasted by five police officers when he got out of his vehicle.  

The Black Rod has learned that a police dispatcher had informed the chasing police that Dicesare had repeatedly said by cell phone that he was not threatening police and had no intention of harming any of them. 

We wonder how Winnipeg police define the word "de-escalate."

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Friday, November 18, 2016

The Craig McDougall inquest is being deliberately botched. What are they hiding?

Is the inquest into the police shooting death of Craig McDougall being deliberately botched?
By all the evidence, the answer is "Hell, yeah."

And if that's the case, the obvious question is 'why?'

The obvious answer is because they're hiding something. Something big. Hiding something important that they don't want the public to find out.

A week and a half into the inquest, we know next to nothing about what happened that early morning Aug. 8, 2008, when a policeman pumped three bullets into McDougall within two minutes of arriving at 788 Simcoe Street.  He fired four shots but one missed and, wouldn't you know it, went who knows where?  

Oh, and in those two minutes or less, someone shot two taser rounds at McDougall, one of which stuck in his stomach and should have left him quivering helplessly on the ground.  Or it did and we don't know.

The inquest has called a bunch of witnesses, none of whom saw the shooting, and most of whom weren't even there when it happened.

The shooter, Curtis Beyak, who should have been the first witness to testify, is scheduled to give his account on Monday, November 21. 

 Guess what else is happening on Monday, November, 21.  

The Throne Speech!

So the most important witness at the inquest has been scheduled to appear on the one day when virtually the entire press corp will be diverted to another story, and even if some reporter shows up, his or her story will be given the least space and attention as possible.


Not when you realize that the parade of useless witnesses to date is obviously intended to dilute press interest in the inquest until no reporters or at most, the bored CBC reporter alone, attends.

This simply fits the pattern of cover-up that's carpetted the shooting from day one.

The alleged investigation of the death of Craig McDougall at the hands of police took TWO YEARS AND THREE MONTHS to complete and be sent to the Ontario Provincial Police for review,  and then only after the chief medical examiner sent two emails to provincial officials, a year apart, asking "where's the report?" 

The OPP then took more than another year (14 months to be exact) to send it back. Maybe they're slow readers in Ontario.

The Manitoba government then sat on it for two more months before passing it over to the Manitoba Prosecution Service, emphasis on the word Prosecution.

They were worried about something in the report, so they sent it to an "outside counsel", name unknown, to advise them whether charges could be supported. That lawyer said there wasn't enough evidence to get a conviction, so that's what they informed McDougall's family and the medical examiner, who had by then been waiting more than FOUR YEARS to call an inquest that's mandatory whenever someone is killed by police.

Guess what? It took another eight months before the inquest was called, and almost EIGHT YEARS to the day that McDougall was shot for its scheduled start. And then it was delayed another three months for good measure.

How can a mandatory inquest be sidetracked for eight years? Only with a lot of help from a lot of inside sources.

So, what have we learned from the inquest so far?

Start with the incredible double standard in how police treat cops who shoot Indians and Indians who manage to avoid being shot by cops.

 The officer who shot McDougall and two others who were present were whisked to the police station where they were comforted and soothed to reduce any trauma they might experience.

 Instead of being asked to immediately write down what happened while it was fresh in their minds, they were instead advised they had the, ahem, right to speak to trauma councillors and their union rep first, and to take as much time as they wanted before telling what transpired the morning they confronted McDougall. 

 They eventually showed up three days later to give unsworn statements.

By sharp contrast, Craig McDougall's father, Brian McDougall, was tackled as he tried to get to his dying son to comfort him. His face was ground into the dirt by a police officer, his knee crushing Brian McDougall's neck until he was handcuffed and hauled to a police cruiser car. 

He, too, was driven to the police station where he was put in a locked room and the handcuffs were removed---after 45 minutes.

Nobody comforted him or worried about his trauma at seeing his son's last moments alive
He wasn't given the option of coming back another day to give a statement. He was locked up for hours, then questioned right then and there, and hours later a videotaped statement was taken.  

His son was pronounced dead less than 90 minutes after being shot, but that information was withheld from his father until  Brian McDougall had been in custody for six-and-a-half hours. 

Robert Bell, now retired, then a sergeant and  head of the homicide unit, was in charge of the investigation of the shooting.   He was questioned about the treatment given to Brian McDougall and other witnesses. 

"Had they asked to leave, certainly, they would be (allowed). They’re not under arrest," Bell said.

A gargantuan falsehood.  

The idea that someone in a locked interview room could somehow just say he was leaving and might be back is so preposterous that it destroys any credibility that Bell might have.  Which is damning, since it was Bell who determined the shooting of Craig McDougall was justified.

 If he's prepared to lie about something so obviously false, what else is he prepared to lie about?

Almost two weeks into the inquest and we know so little, other than how far police will go to twist the truth.   The family of Craig McDougall hired a private detective, Bob Norton, a former RCMP inspector, to do his own report into the shooting. 

 Here, scalped from an APTN story of May 5, 2015, are excerpts of Norton's investigation:

- McDougall lived at 788 Simcoe St. with his dad Brian McDougall.

- Brian returned home from a local bar at about 2:30 a.m.

- People were having a few beers and about 45 minutes later an argument breaks outs forcing Brian to tell everyone to leave.

- He also tells Craig to leave and not come home until he’s sober.

- Craig is then seen in the lane behind the residence upset and arguing with people. One witness recalled Craig saying he wanted to kill himself.

- Shortly after three females leave the back lane and Craig follows them onto Notre Dame Avenue. They allege he assaults them, pulling one of the females to the ground. Witnesses said he was yelling and screaming but didn’t know why.

- The girls flag down a truck and the driver calls 911.

- Craig returns home, shirtless, talking on his cellphone. He was calling his girlfriend.

- The three females tell police Craig assaulted them and give officers his home address. 

- While on the phone with his girlfriend police then show up at the house at about 5 a.m. and the girlfriend hears a female officer say “drop the knife”. Then she hears a male officer yell “drop the damn knife”. 
- She then hears four gunshots followed by a voice saying “man down, man down.”

- Craig’s brother Johnny McDougall is at the house too and remembered seeing six officers outside and recalled hearing an officer say “He’s got a weapon. Put that knife down.”

- Johnny saw two officers with their guns drawn. It’s dark out with the scene lit only by a street light across the street.

- He said Craig took a few steps towards police then they started shooting and he fell on his back. He said police were on the sidewalk and Craig was in the yard. Between them was a four-foot fence.

- Police then handcuffed Brian, who was trying to get to his son. They also handcuff Johnny and a woman. 
- An ambulance doesn’t arrive within the 20 minutes following the shots and until police took Brian, Johnny and the woman away for questioning.

A total of five witnesses told Norton they never saw Craig with a knife in the period leading up to the shooting.

It’s not known where Craig would have gotten the knife because he never entered the house and it was too big to fit in a pocket.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Searching for Christine Wood. Will Winnipeg Police feel the heat?

The Winnipeg Police force has managed to stay under the radar of the national news organizations for over three weeks now, but once their luck runs out the results will be incendiary.

How Winnipeg police conduct a missing persons investigation into the disappearance of Christine Wood will become the test case for the recently announced Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women Inquiry. 

Winnipeg will be the stand-in for all police departments across Canada in similar investigations. And so far, the example is not good.

Here's where we would normally give the background to the case. The known facts.  Except that the "known facts" in the disappearance of Christine Wood keep changing from week to week. And the police have been no help in keeping the public informed. In fact, they're partly responsible for the confusion.

Nevertheless, here's what we know culled from various news accounts.

* 21-year-old Christine Wood was in Winnipeg with her parents to accompany a relative who had a medical appointment. They were staying at the Comfort Inn, Sargent Avenue and Berry Street. 

* On Friday, Aug. 19, she was getting ready to go out in the evening. Her parents left her at the hotel as they went to a nearby store.  When they came back, about 9:30 p.m., their daughter was gone.  

* The next day, when she hadn't returned, they became concerned, given that they were all supposed to fly home to the Oxford House reserve on Sunday, Aug. 21.

* The Woods called the police for help. They were told that Christine was an adult, she could come and go as she pleased, and what did they expect the poice to do?  The answer is not surprising, given that up to 5000 people are reported missing to Winnipeg police every year.

Still, a week after Christine Wood was last seen by her parents, the police issued a missing person alert --- which could hardly have been skimpier. It had her picture, a brief description of her and what she might be wearing, And the alert said she was last seen in downtown Winnipeg.

Now this was about as useless as you can imagine. Police were asking if anyone could remember seeing  a cute young woman a week earlier. 

Well,  yeah, maybe. Somewhere downtown.  Where?  

The official description of "downtown" extends from the University of Winnipeg east to the Forks and north to Higgins and Main.

That would be bad enough, but a week after that,  the Canadian Centre for Child Protection issued a news release saying Christine Wood was last seen in the Polo Park area. 

That's nowhere near "downtown." So why did the police say she was seen downtown?

Was it a ruse to trick a suspect? If it was, was the family told?  Because if the police issued false information deliberately, they've done immense damage to the trust relationship between the authorities and a grieving family and the police and the greater public. And once destroyed, trust never returns.

So where was Christine Wood last seen?  Is there no hotel security camera footage of her leaving her hotel room, in the hotel lobby, walking into the hotel parking lot?  

How did she get to Polo Park? By bus? By cab?  The mall would have been closed by the time she left the hotel, so where in the "area" was she seen? With anybody? 

These are just natural questions. Has the police department satisfied the family with answers? Will they, as is their habit, release video of her sometime in the future long after it would be of any help jogging anyone's memory?

One news story mentioned that her husband joined her in Winnipeg two days after she and her parents arrived.  There's been no further mention of the husband. 

She obviously wasn't going out with him that Friday night? She didn't tell her parents she was meeting him somewhere. Her parents have been the public voices calling for help in finding her.  Where is he? The spouse is always the prime suspect in a disappearance. Does he have a big police target on his back?

The public alert states "Police are concerned for WOOD’s well-being..." Is that simply because she hasn't been heard from? Or do police have information they're holding back, which seems more likely.  The police department always knows more than it tells. Do they know something sinister about her disappearance?

What do we know about her?  The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has provided more detail than the police department. 

It said Christine is “familiar with Winnipeg, having attended the University of Winnipeg this past year. Christine ... is known to frequent the Osborne Village."  So she's no stranger to the city. But her acquaintances are another matter.

Her mother says she immediately reached out to Christine's friends on social media to find out if they had heard from Christine. But nobody responded to her frantic pleas.  Now that's suspicious.

The M&M Inquiry can't reopen old cases, but it could put the spotlight on an ongoing case, with the Winnipeg Police smack dab in the middle.

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Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights enters death spiral, fueled by debt

Can supporters of The Canadian Museum for Human Rights handle the truth? 

* $80 million in debt with no hope of paying it off
* begging the federal government to raise its $21.7 million annual allowance by at least 50 percent  to buy more time
a report that seems to indicate the museum's fundraising arm can't collect $24 million, or almost one in four of the $151 million dollars the Friends of the CMHR boasts it has raised.

Last week the CMHR announced what should have been good news ---it settled its tax bill with the City of Winnipeg.  The museum owed $2.7 million  for this year's property taxes, much much less than the $5-to-$8 million they expected their taxes to be.

The federal government, which is ultimately on the hook for what's called "payments in lieu of taxes" for federal institutions like museums, paid the $2.7 million plus arrears of $6.7 million. It then put the total - $9.4M - on the CMHR's tab.

The museum is already $70 million in debt for the emergency funding they needed to open in 2014, two years late. The CMHR was flat broke and didn't have enough money to finish building the facility and paying for exhibits. 

The federal government "advanced" $35 million (interest free) with the alleged expectation that the government could get the money back by eventually reducing the annual funding it gives to the museum until they were even. 

Everybody knows that's camouflage and will never happen but everyone is pretending that's a real plan.

The museum also needed a loan of $35 million to meet its costs. The loan, from sources never identified, went to the Friends of the CMHR which doled it out to the museum while managing to keep secret the donors and terms.  But a loan carries interest cost.

Add the $9.4 million plus $70 million plus interest and you're touching $80 million in the red.  And that's not counting $10 million in operating funds  that the federal government let the museum spend on construction instead. It's never been made clear whether that $10 million has to be repaid or if the federal government just boosted their "contribution" to the cost of the museum by that amount.

The CMHR says it has squirreled away a few million dollars to pay part of the city tax tab. As for the rest, well...

The museum wants---needs---the federal government to swallow most of it. The deal is for the CMHR to have its annual funding reduced starting in 2018 to pay off the federal "advance."  But given that the CMHR is spending every nickel of the $21.7 million its receiving each year, that is impossible.  In fact, the museum wants more money, not less each and every year in the future.

Apart from getting the federal government to forgive the $35 million advance in $7 million increments, the museum wants  the city taxes paid, starting at $3 million  (including frontage fee) and rising per year. Oh, and it needs $3 million or so to replace the entire computer system, which has a useful life expectancy of only three years that's up, uh, next year.

Anyone who still thinks the Friends of the CMHR is supposed to cover these expenses by its fundraising is in for a sick surprise.

Charity Intelligence Canada is a charity watchdog. Its latest report on the Friends of the CMHR has some unsettling details.  

The Friends, which is a registered charity, spends 43 percent of its revenues on administrative costs and 18 percent of donations on fundraising costs.  Given that "revenues" is made up of donations plus interest, which last year was negative one thousand dollars, in reality 61 percent of the money donated to Friends goes to overhead.

And then there's this paragraph in the Ci report:
Note: Ci Charity Intelligence has used the restated 2014 financial statements in the charity’s F2015 audited financial statements. Ci has adjusted amortization and allowance for doubtful pledges receivable and gifts to the museum affecting expenses by ($4m) in F2016, by ($18.4m) in F2015, and by ($14.1m) in F2014. 
Given that the paragraph is written in a foreign language, auditorese, its hard to say what it really means.

Does it mean the museum has been counting money on its books that can't be collected?

There's been a $24 million writedown involving "doubtful pledges receivable" but it that just an accounting adjustment or a complete breakdown of fundraising?

Nevertheless, it does suggest why the CMHR's corporate reports for the past three years running have not been made public, and why no 2015-2016 annual report is MIA.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Thanks for nothing, Devon "Mack Daddy" Clunis

Last week's release of the annual report on crime and disorder in the city put a lot of things in  a new perspective---starting with the surprise retirement of the police chief and ending with an abrasive member of the police board getting the hook.

Back in March, Police Chief Devon Clunis made a stunning announcement---he was quitting.  Only 52, he was retiring after 29 years as a cop. He had been in the top job barely 3 l/2 years, though, which is why people were so surprised he was anxious to leave. 
Anxious to leave. That's a polite way to say bolting for the exit.  

Clunis made a big noise when he was hired as police chief.  He was literally going to change the culture of policing, he declared.  Fighting crime was so yesterday, he sneered. He was going to mobilize entire communities, heal social ills, and --- wait for it --- eliminate the root causes of crime.

Well, he changed the mission statement, which is on Page One of the crime report next to his picture:

Our Mission: Build safe and healthy
communities across Winnipeg through
excellence in law enforcement and
leadership in crime prevention through
social development.

'Mission Accomplished,' Clunis said when leaving. Before leaving, actually, because his last day was July 7, two weeks before he would have had to sign the annual report card on the work of the Winnipeg Police Service---which carried a mark of F for Failure.

Total reported crimes up 7 percent. 
Break-ins up 19 percent. 
Violent crime up 6 percent. 
Robberies alone up 9 percent. 
There were even 339 assaults on police officers, almost one a day, up 25 percent from 2014.

Violent crimes by youth were up 7 percent; property crimes, 12 percent.

Winnipeg has relinquished the poisonous title of Murder Capital of Canada to Regina but carries the equally disgraceful title of Violent Crime Capital of the country. Given that most murders are not random and violent crime often is, it isn't much of a welcome change. The violent crime severity index for Winnipeg, which measures both the number and seriousness of offences, increased by five per cent in 2015.

Police spokesmen made pathetic attempts to amerliorate the damning police stats, starting with 'crime is up in cities across the country.'

NEWS FLASH:    We don't live in other cities!

Unless you're saying crime spreads from province to province like the swine flu virus then crime rates in other cities are NO EXCUSE.

The 2015 crime stats did not hatch the day before the annual report was released. They had circulated within police and government circles for weeks.  Chief Clunis knew what the stats said when he announced his retirement.  And new Premier Brian Pallister knew what they said when he replaced two NDP appointees on the Winnipeg police board with two of his own.

The Winnipeg press dutifully followed the NDP political narrative in reporting the police board changes, concentrating on the removal of Leslie Spillett
Spillett, you were told, was an aboriginal representative on the board and was being removed because, well, you know. (Hint, the Conservatives are racists.)
The only thing wrong with all those stories is the facts. Spillett is and was never an aboriginal representative except in her own mind. She was a representative of the Manitoba New Democratic Party as their appointee.  

She has never been elected by native people to represent native people in Winnipeg in any capacity. She is identified as an "aboriginal activist", which is not a real job since you need no skills, no training, no employer, and no followers, just a loud voice.

Angeline Ramkissoon, a retired inner-city school principal, was the other NDP appointee on the police board who was replaced. Her attitude to race based representation is diametrically opposite to Spillett's. The Winnipeg Free Press interviewed her, to the detriment of Leslie Spillett:

"Ramkissoon, who is of South Asian descent, came to Canada in 1967 from Trinidad, but says that’s not why she was appointed to the police board.
"Yes, I came from an ethnic background, but that was not my focus. I saw myself as an administrator before I saw myself as a minority..."

She not only had a real job (which made her a role model to other immigrants) but she refused to be pigeon-holed as an ethnic anything.

The lame press failed to do any research into what Spillett brought to the police board table

If they had, they would have easily turned up this 2012 interview with Winnipeg-based Geez magazine.
In an article headlined Do We Need The Cops, Spillett reveals her attitude towards the police. 

"In Canada the police have historically been part of the project of cultural genocide, she said." 

"She sees the western system of policing as culturally alien to an indigenous view." 

"The police are only one part of a colonial system designed to condition superiority and inferiority complexes into different segments of the population." 

"A few days of diversity training for cops won't do the trick, said Spillett. "If you have cancer, one chemo doesn't do the job." 

Remember, Leslie Spillett wasn't bringing this attitude to the Winnipeg police board as a representative of the Inner City, or the aboriginal residents of the city. 

She was representing the New Democratic Party of Manitoba.  Any wonder why she was shown the door.

The police board is currently searching for a new police chief.  

Unfortunately, they're not looking for a crime fighter. They want another social worker. 

The official ad for the job states that the "Chief of Police has a key and critical role in crime prevention through social development, community building, prevention strategies and proactive policing." 

"...the ideal Chief of Police will be a community-focused change agent..." 

"He or she will be cognizant of the structural barriers affecting many communities and therefore will support initiatives that will empower marginalized people and groups such as Indigenous people and newcomers." 

Oh, if you're waiting for something about experience with crime fighting, you can stop now. There's not a word.

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