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.

Name:
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: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

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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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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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

White doctors freak out pregnant aboriginals, says NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine



A leopard can't change its spots and the NDP's Nahanni Fontaine can't change her bias against white people.

We got another taste of her advocacy for aboriginal apartheid in Hansard's official account of debate in the Legislature last week.


Fontaine, the NDP's parachute candidate in St. John's riding, was promoting the need for native midwives and doulas for pregnant "indigenous women" in  northern Manitoba (what about the rest of the expectant mothers? - ed.) when she --- oh, so casually --- started talking about how traumatic it was for these women to be in the care of  ... 


White medical professionals. 

"And so, as the minister knows, you know, indigenous women have to come to the south to have their babies. Often, they come without any supports. They are immersed in white space."


For people unfamiliar with the latest racial nomenclature, she explained:


"And so, you know, for women that are here alone, and that are immersed in white space, with white nurses, white doctors, it can be incredibly alienating and impact on the delivery of their baby."


Fontaine is no stranger to overt bias against whites.  


She was neck-deep in the controversy around Deputy Premier Eric Robinson's secret email to her demonstrating his contempt for "do-good white people". 

Their email exchange, which the NDP government tried to hide from exposure through the province's Freedom of Information Act, led to Robinson's declaration that he was allowed to be prejudiced against whites because of how they treated him in the past. 

That went over so well with voters that they threw Robinson out of office in the October election.


Fontaine also once promoted the boycott of white businesses, a history she refused to discuss when on her own campaign trail.


There's no word on whether the NDP's other star aboriginal candidate, Wab Kinew, supports aboriginal apartheid as he hasn't said anything on the issue one way or another. Neither has NDP interim leader Flor Marcilino, although she may just be confused.


Under apartheid in South Africa, Filipinos sometimes were and sometimes weren't considered "honorary whites" along with Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans.


But Wikipedia says South Africans of Filipino descent were classified as "black."

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to conceive.

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Monday, June 06, 2016

Sex and Drugs in the Peg. Is that what PM Justin Trudeau is covering up?



The Parliamentary Press Gallery spent the weekend yukking it up with Justin Trudeau at the annual gallery dinner, demonstrating that relations between the Prime Minister and the press were back to normal, the master and his voice in sync again.
Things had been a little strained a few weeks ago when Trudeau, determined to show that he was a tough guy and not to be trifled with in the House of Commons, delivered a hard elbow to a female MP's breast while manhandling an Opposition MP who wasn't moving fast enough to suit the PM.

The reporters and pundits had to do quite the soft shoe to excuse Trudeau's boorishness when video of the incident contradicted his initial explanation for how his elbow smashed into her chest.  Luckily, the controversy subsided quickly and the press gallery could go back to work--- adoring the Sun King.

And then, last week, damn it, up popped another matter that threatened to blemish the reign of Trudeau II. Its name---Hunter Tootoo.

Hunter Tootoo turned out to be Canada's Fisheries Minister 
( Who knew?). Only he wasn't, because he quit. 

There was a bit of fanfare when he was appointed in November, 2014. His was a historic appointment, we were told. He was the first aboriginal and the first northerner (he's from Nunavut) to hold the cabinet post. "It is a proud day for Inuit” declared the president of the national Inuit organization. "We survived the long, dark night of the Harper government and we're coming into the dawn of a new day with the Trudeau government," declared Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

But last week Trudeau was treating Tootoo like the Zika virus. 

He couldn't put enough space between himself and his historic appointment.  

Tootoo's departure was announced in a late-in-the-day release from the PM's office that consisted all of 70 words, none of which spoke of what a great job he had done or what a terrific role model he had been or how much Trudeau would miss him. He quit, said the news release, and, oh, he left the caucus too.

Say what?

It was all too mysterious, so Justin addressed the press and pundits personally the very next day.  The former minister was going for addictions treatment. Ignore the rumours. There's no story. Drop it.

And the press did as their master said, with one small exception. 
Last Wednesday, following Trudeau's brief statement, the CTV National News anchor read this tidbit: "sources say there was an incident with Tootoo at the Lib convention on the weekend, serious enough to be kicked from caucus."

And that was it. No follow up. Some niggling questions on blogs and posts on news media comments sections, but as far as information, dead silence.

Until today.

*  From the initial flurry of news reports, we gather that Hunter Tootoo was in fine spirits following his attendance at the national Liberal Party convention in Winnipeg last weekend. 

*  He returned to Ottawa and attended cabinet meetings Monday night and early Tuesday morning.  

*  The 9:30 a.m. Tuesday cabinet meeting was followed by Question Period at 2 p.m. QP lasts roughly an hour.

Something happened in the 90 minutes or so between the time Trudeau left Question Period about 3 p.m. and the time the initial news of Tootoo's resignation hit the news wires. 

*  The earliest alert we could find is from CBC's Aboriginal service:
CBC_Aboriginal
 Follow
Hunter Tootoo resigns as Fisheries minister, leaves Liberal caucus. cbc.ca/1.3609915
4:36 PM - 31 May 2016
*  Initially, commentary focused on the news that Tootoo not only quit the cabinet, but also left the Liberal caucus. Nobody in the country believes he did so voluntarily -- despite what Trudeau claimed.

*  Then there was the day-after CTV newslet about an incident in Winnipeg. What was that all about?

Winnipeg journalists, especially in the alternative press, immediately put their ears to the ground.

The Globe and Mail reported: "Mr. Tootoo, 53, had been drinking heavily at the Liberal convention in Winnipeg, but one friend said, “he was never stumbling, or anything like that”."  

When someone is knocking back booze, who counts how much?  Nobody. What says "heavily" is behaviour. 

Drunks get loud and want to be noticed.
They can be loud and funny, what's known as happy drunks. 
Or loud and obnoxious, the dreaded ugly drunk. 

We don't know which Tootoo is, but little birdies said he was noticed---allegedly in a Winnipeg strip club.

*  Local reporters soon heard the story and, eventually, began bombarding the Winnipeg police for comment.

Was there "an altercation"?  Did a search of one of those involved turn up cocaine? Did the incident involve a woman?

The police finally had to issue a public denial that they were ever called to any incident involving Tootoo.

“The Winnipeg Police Service has no record of any official police contact with this individual,” said Const. Robert Carver, a public information officer with the force. “I cannot be more clear about that — no record.”

*  That should have been the end of it, except that seasoned reporters have learned to parse carefully what public officials say.  No "record" does not mean no "incident."

Winnipeg police might throw a blotto City Councillor into the drunk tank, but no Member of Parliament is going to be inconvenienced during a party convention in this friendly city. That would be what's known as a career-ending move. 

That left just enough air to keep the rumours alive.

*  But even before the city police made their public statement, the story on the street had taken a twist.

This version also spoke of cocaine, but added a young Liberal staffer. Female.

Cherchez la femme.

Had the young lady been offered a toot by Tootoo? Was she telling tales back home? Had somebody started asking questions on Parliament Hill?

Remember how nobody believed Tootoo quit the Liberal caucus of his own accord? 

That's because they remember that one of Trudeau's first orders of business on being elected leader was to throw out of caucus  two MP's who had been accused of sexual harassment by a female MP of another party.

He wouldn't hear their claims of innocence. Out they went. 

Now, imagine a scenario where he has just been pilloried for elbowing a female MP in the breast and barely two weeks later another Liberal (male) is embroiled in a scandal involving, gulp, a female. Whose side do you take? 

Can you spell Ghomeshi?

Step one: act fast to demonstrate you acted fast once you heard. 
Step two: insist there's no story. Maybe they'll fall for it. 
Step three: tell jokes,. Everyone loves to laugh,.

But as the immortal Yogi Berra said: "It ain't over until it's over."

PS --  this wouldn't be the first time that Tootoo has run into problems with women: 

"On Monday, Leona Aglukkaq, minister responsible for the status of women and one of two women in the 19-member legislature, told the house she, too, had faced verbal abuse and threats from elected officials. 

Outside the Chamber, she said the member for Iqakuit centre, Hunter Tootoo, chased her and swore at her after a committee of the whole meeting in March 2005.

Tootoo was not available to confirm those words on Monday. he did apologize two days later in the legislature, saying his remarks were "unacceptable in content and  tone."

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2007/09/18/legislature-rebukes-premier-over-insult-nunavut-minister-says-other-politicians-have-verbally-abused-women 

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Things we want to see in Brian Pallister's victory speech


Today we expect to see Manitoba voters deliver a historic repudiation of almost 16 years of NDP government.

But incoming premier Brian Pallister is dead wrong if he thinks that just giving the scoundrels the boot is enough.

The wolves have had free rein on the farm too long. By the end they had convinced themselves, like all despots, that they could do no wrong. 

*  Trying to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Jockey Club to patch the depleted provincial budget
*  Publicly supporting a racist cabinet minister who admitted to prejudice against whites,
*  Shrugging off a stomach-churning account of a woman spending her final hours of life screaming in pain on the floor of a hospital emergency ward 

The NDP saw any opposition as downright evil and having to be stamped out.

By controlling the levers of power, the NDP were able to slough off one major scandal after another. That doesn't mean the scandals didn't exist.  But you don't cure cancer by sending the patient home with a wag of the finger and the admonition "don't be sick again, got it."

Brian Pallister needs to get to the root of the cancer of the NDP.

Tonight, in his victory speech, Pallister needs to say the following:

1.  Call for a judicial inquiry or a royal commission into the NDP election fraud of 1999.  

Yes, its been 16 years.  But if you believe that democracy is important and worth fighting for, then this cannot be allowed to pass. 

The New Democrats, under the watch of then-leader Gary Doer, engaged in a conspiracy to defraud taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars to finance their election campaign.  When the scheme was finally detected in 2003, Elections Manitoba officials colluded with the NDP to cover up the fraud.  It wasn't until 2009 that a party whistleblower went public with what happened. 

The NDP weren't about to investigate themselves, so they rode out the faux indignation of a sympathetic press, and carried on business as usual.

Pallister has to demonstrate that an assault on democracy cannot be condoned, regardless how much time has passed.  It's too late to charge anyone, but not to subpoena them, to bring them in to testify under oath, and to prepare a report for  generations to come to see how the NDP/union twisted the rules to get elected.

2. Order a Securities Commission investigation of the Crocus Fund debacle.

Way way back, Crocus was a labour-backed venture capital fund designed to raise money from Manitobans to invest in Manitoba enterprises. It was a time when private investors avoided Manitoba like the Zika virus and anything that could spark investment in the province was grasped like a straw by a drowning man.

But over the years, Crocus became a government-approved Ponzi scheme. The managers overvalued their "investments" to entice new investors whose money would be used to pay off the original investors who wanted out.

 The fund had a back channel into the NDP cabinet --- through then-finance minister Greg Selinger ---which kept the NDP abreast of the fund's true liquidity problems. The NDP nevertheless continued to promote the fund as a great place to invest your retirement fund, right up until some newly hired managers ran in horror to the Manitoba Securities Commission with the grisly news of the fund's real numbers. Trading stopped, fund collapsed, 34,000 investors screwed.

The Manitoba Securities Commission declared it would launch an investigation, but there was always some reason for delay, not least because the commission itself was enmeshed in Crocus' convoluted schemes to stay afloat.

Pallister must order a true investigation into the Crocus Fund, including what the NDP cabinet knew and when.
  Given that the Manitoba Securities Commission is tainted by its dealings with Crocus, the investigation has to be conducted by an outside financial body. 

3. The NDP broke the law in 2013 when it raised the provincial sales tax one percentage point to 8 pct from 7. The law was clear. No government could "introduce" legislation to raise the PST without holding a referendum.  The NDP could have gone to the Legislature to revoke that law, but they didn't. They chose to break the law.

Pallister must order a thorough investigation within the government's legal department  to determine who approved breaking the law.  

Those government lawyers and officials must be identified and removed. A government cannot function with the trust of the public when infested with civil servants who think they and the ruling government can act as they please regardless of laws passed by the Legislature.  

This, too, is a matter of defending democracy, not cheap retaliation.

Pallister stupidly launched a civil action to test the government's right to raise the PST. This is not a situation where civil suits prevail.  This is a matter of breaking the law, as its written.

If the prosecutions branch determines that charges are warranted, they must be laid as an example to future governments that nobody is above the law. 

 If they determine they can't get a conviction, then Pallister must release the emails and documents around the debate over sidestepping the law -- so that the public can see for itself who made what decisions and how and can deliver a verdict in the court of public opinion.

******************

Finally, a valued reader who is more erudite than we are, sent us this historical quote that sums up tonight so poetically:

From: xxxxxxxx
Date: April 18, 2016 at 10:01:01 AM CDT
To: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com
Subject: On the Manitoba Election
Oliver Cromwell said it best:
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.
In the name of God, go!

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