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, October 20, 2014

WPD Chief Clunis knows the REAL reason police failed to detain Tina Fontaine


Winnipeg Police Chief Devon "Mack Daddy" Clunis is a big believer in prayer, and right now he's praying you don't find out that he might have been responsible for why teen runaway Tina Fontaine wasn't picked up by police the day before she was last seen alive.

By now everyone knows that two officers spoke with 15-year-old Tina Fontaine in the wee hours of August 8 after stopping a vehicle in which she was a passenger.  They took down her name, we're told, then sent her on her way.  But at the time, so the story goes, she had been reported to police as missing, and should have been apprehended.

The police department revealed the contact with Tina last month and announced an internal investigation of the circumstances.  Friday, Clunis said the resulting report would be sent to the Crown Attorney's office for review, implying that charges could be laid against the two police officers.

What he failed to say is that Tina Fontaine was probably released by the officers because they were following the policy introduced by none other than Clunis himself on dealing with street prostitutes.

Clunis, you see, wants police to be more social worker than law enforcer. Nine months before Fontaine was killed, Clunis announced the creation of an anti-exploitation unit to build relationships with prostitutes rather than arrest them.  Police would, henceforth, harass the johns but not the hookers, who were to be treated with kid gloves.  They were, after all, victims in their own right.

The incident where police spoke with Fontaine has all the elements of a roust. Police just happened to be around when Fontaine, who was known to prostitute herself in the area, got into a truck with an unknown male driver in the middle of the night. They stopped the truck and questioned the two occupants. Fontaine was released to go on her way; the driver, who was, allegedly, intoxicated, was taken to the drunk tank.

If he was drunk, why wasn't he charged with drunk driving? Because the officers didn't want to spend time waiting for a breathalyzer test. They wanted to get back on their "beat" asap.

Why wasn't Fontaine held in custody and returned to CFS care?  Here's where the story goes off the rails.
Tina Fontaine was a chronic runaway.  After running away from her aunt's care in Sagkeeng in November and being returned, she went missing again in July.  

RCMP in Powerview reported on July 11 that they had received a missing persons report regarding Tina Fontaine on July 10. She was last seen, they said, on July 1 in Winnipeg. Then, on July 17, they issued a news release saying she had been found safe and sound.

Her great-aunt Thelma Favel, who lives on Sagkeeng, had been unable to reach Tina in Winnipeg for over a week and had therefore reported her missing July 10.  Tina's mother Tina Duck later (after Tina's body was discovered) told reporters that she had spent "the better part of the week" with Tina, obviously unbeknownst to Favel.

Follow, so far?

Media reports say she was missing again on July 31, only two weeks later. Thelma Favel says Tina had been gone since about July 26, according to what she learned from a child care worker. 

Tina's aunt, Lana Fontaine, told CBC that the girl stayed with her over the August long weekend, Aug. 1 to 5. She added that Tina phoned CFS on Aug. 5 and was taken back into their care.

Neither Winnipeg police nor Powerview RCMP issued a missing persons alert regarding the July 31 disappearance of Tina Fontaine. 

According to the best evidence, she was back under CFS care as of Aug.5.

That means that when she was questioned by two Winnipeg police officers, in the early hours of Aug. 8, SHE WAS NOT MISSING.

Again....if what Tina's aunt Lana Fontaine told CBC is the truth, then 15-year-old Tina Fontaine WAS NOT A MISSING PERSON when she came into contact with two policemen on Aug. 8, contrary to everything you have been told or have read since the revelation that police spoke to her and failed to take her into custody 24 hours before her final disappearance!

She was reported missing Aug. 9, police issued a news release Aug. 13 "requesting the publics assistance" in locating her, and her body was found in the Red River Aug. 17.

When the officers spoke with her that night she was NOT a missing person; she was a hooker with a john.  The officers were just following the policy laid down by Mack Daddy Clunis when they questioned Tina and let her go.

Mack Daddy Clunis prefers his hookers to stay on the street rather than in jail or on bail.

But why he's letting false information stand without contradiction to let it poison relations between police and the native community is a question the Winnipeg bpolice commission needs to answer -- and fast. Amen.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Campaign financing laws are for chumps: union-backed Mayor candidate Judy W-L


The NDP-backed candidate for mayor, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, has broken election law by accepting donations from a union.

Two days ago the Winnipeg firefighters union announced it was endorsing her for mayor. But yesterday that endorsement exploded in her face when another mayoral election candidate, Robert Falcon-Ouellette, started asking questions about the extent of the union's support.

Union boss Alex Forrest sneered "It's a stupid complaint."  He then told the Winnipeg Free Press that the signs carried and t-shirts promoting Wasylycia-Leis by his members "were all invoiced to her campaign."   
 
Reporter Aldo Santin got confirmation from the Wasylycia-Leis campaign that the items will be a reported campaign expense.

That's what's known in police circles as "a confession."

The city bylaw governing municipal elections, passed under orders by the provincial NDP government, states categorically:

Prohibited contributions not to be accepted
9(1) A registered candidate in an election shall not
(a) solicit or accept a contribution from
(i) a person who is not an individual normally resident in Manitoba, or
(ii) an organization;

And:
"organization" includes
(a) a trade union, a partnership and an unincorporated association,

The union broke the law by contributing advertising material to her campaign, and she broke the law by accepting it, proved by her appearance at the endorsement announcement and her campaign's statement that the material will be reported as a campaign expense.  

This is the second mayoral campaign for Wasylycia-Leis, so she has no excuse for not knowing that union donations are specifically outlawed, whether they are reported as an election expense or not.

The penalty for breaking campaign financing legislation?  

None.

Anyone caught has to either pay for the illegal donation or give it back.  That's it.

This isn't the first time that NDP election campaigns have broken financing legislation. The fact they have never been punished may have encouraged the Wasylycia-Leis campaign to thumb its nose at the law.
In the 2010 election, attendees at a public meeting heard NDP-backed council candidate Ross Eadie declare he couldn't run if it wasn't for the financial support of the NDP.  Despite 8 complaints filed with Marc Lemoine, described as Winnipeg senior election official, he did nothing to investigate the matter.

In 1999, the provincial NDP party defrauded the province for $76,000 in rebates for election expenses attributed to union volunteers. The fraud was kept secret with the collusion of Manitoba's Chief Electoral Officer, Richard Balasko.  
 
See the details here:

Labels: , , ,

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Facts the MSM won't tell you.


The CMHR hasn't filed any financial reports for the past nine months. What are they hiding?
The last advance from the federal government was turned over in December. They were supposed to be collecting IOU's from donors throughout the year to keep in the black. 

Was there a problem with the collections? Is that why the museum is still not ready to open?
They made a big stink about holding the opening ceremonies the day before the museum's announced opening date.  But when that date (Sept. 20) came around, they were nowhere near ready for visitors.  Only 4 of 11 galleries were open to ticket holders, 9000 of whom were allowed in for free because the museum couldn't charge admission to less than half the exhibits.
Even then, the 4 open galleries were still unfinished.  Watching a CBC cameraman zoom in on a plywood board screwed to a wall, with the reporter asking a museum flak what was supposed to go there, was priceless.
The federal government is on the hook for at least $160 million for the CMHR, although they will claim their contribution is only $100 million. The federal and provincial government lost another $67 million in taxes because the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a registered charity and gives out tax receipts.
H/T to Dave Christianson, financial columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press who wrote this about the museum:
http://advisors.nbfwm.ca/en/teams/christianson-wealth-advisors/dollars---sense-articles/benefits-of-donating/
"And, since my newspaper contract requires it, let me tell you of the great tax benefits available to you by donating money or appreciated shares. Every $1,000 donated to a registered charity will generally save you $450 of federal and provincial tax. (The credit on the first $200 donated each year attracts a smaller credit, so combine all of the family donations onto one tax return.)"
The Harper government quietly forked over $10 million in 2011 because the museum was almost out of money for construction.  The money was supposed to be for annual operating funds, but the museum didn't need it for that purpose and got the okay to divert the money to capital costs. 

That's $10 million that won't be repaid.
The feds handed over another $50 million in 2012 when the museum was flat broke and facing disaster. The money is officially "an advance" to be "repaid" starting in 2016 from reduced operating funding. 

Yeah, like the CMHR will ever raise $50 million from admission fees and t-shirt sales.
Maybe that's why the federal government is refusing to pay the equivalent in city taxes. The bill has grown to about $8 million over the past two years, equivalent to a two percent cut in your property tax

CMHR president and CEO Stu Murray used to claim the museum would pay its tax bill. Reporters from the MSM don't ask him anymore.

It's a good thing, because he has no idea where he would find the money.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The Holocaust lie that won't die.



Last Friday, following the official opening ceremonies at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Winnipeg Free Press, the propaganda arm of the museum, updated with video and slideshow many of the stories it had published in the run up to the opening.
One of these was a column by "professional journalist" Dan Lett that appeared Aug. 1st. 
Something he wrote stuck in our craws back then and the update gives us an opportunity to remind Lett - he's entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.  He wrote:

"(The Holocaust) gallery, as promised, focuses not on the atrocity per se, but on how the Nazis used legal means to galvanize their genocidal policies. And how the Holocaust directly resulted in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, the first attempt to codify in international law the principle that no country can pass laws to dehumanize any group of citizens.

Er, no
We reported more than a year ago that that canard had been dispelled.   We quoted an interview Dr. Clint Curle, the former curator of the Holocaust gallery, gave to the Winnipeg Jewish Review:
http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2013/04/another-of-gail-aspers-human-rights.html
Dr. Curle: The organizational framework for the museum has evolved over time. One of our challenges has been to conceptually locate the Holocaust and the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in the Museum. The historical proximity of these two events suggested an inspiring relationship between violation and response. As content development moved forward, the Museum, with the input of experts in this area, realized that this relationship oversimplified both the history of the Holocaust and the history of the Universal Declaration, and exaggerated the actual historical connections between the two. In its present conceptual articulation the Museum has de-linked a direct causal relationship between the Holocaust and the Universal Declaration."

Added Curle:

"Taking the Holocaust on its own terms in this way speaks powerfully to broader human rights concerns regarding the power of the modern state, the vulnerabilities of civil society to become an instrument of oppression, and the controversial relationship between war and human rights protection, but
does not instrumentalize the Holocaust to tell a creation myth about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 22, 2014

Questions about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights the MSM won't ask. Like this.


Two words describe the CMHR:  Bait and Switch.

Remember how it was pitched?
  A translucent, other-worldly shimmering wonder.  Like this:
 
 
 
Five years and $351 million later, we got a giant ugly blue blob:
 
 
 
Iconic?  Only if you think the Kaiser's helmet is iconic...
 
 
Can we get our money back?

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 08, 2014

RRC president Forsyth wasn't the only one to leave under a cloud


This story is awkward to tell.

But it's necessary to tell it because the Board of Governors of Red River College has decided to hide from the public the real reason for the abrupt disappearance of Stephanie Forsyth, the college's president and CEO for the past four years.

One minute she was here; the next, she was gone, with the college issuing only a short statement that the Board "and Ms. Stephanie Forsyth wish to announce that as of August 31, 2014 Ms. Forsyth will not be continuing in her role as President of Red River College for personal and family reasons."

When pressed for more detail, Board chairman Richard Lennon elected to play word games. The Alice-in-Wonderland fairy tale woven by Lennon was captured best in the Winnipeg Free Press:
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/silence-surrounds-presidents-exit-273890331.html

"Lennon said the board did not ask Forsyth to go and he insisted it would be inaccurate to say she resigned -- Red River's favoured phrase is that Forsyth stepped down.
"She approached the board and that led to a discussion,..."
"There's an agreement -- we don't discuss the terms of a staff member's departure."

But Stephanie Forsyth wasn't just a staff member. She was the staffer at the very top.


From the day her hiring was announced, she was touted as a role model for women and for aboriginals, each community able to point to one of their own in charge in one of the most powerful jobs in the province.

Her mysterious departure is a black eye for both of them -- women and aboriginals.
Forsyth was dogged almost from the start with the image of a dictatorial manager with an imperial lifestyle which she expected the taxpayer to pay for. But was it another lifestyle that finally sank her?

When word was circulating at the beginning of August (well before the unexplained approach Forsyth allegedly made to the Board) that she was toast, another scandal had already run its course.

A sex scandal.

A gay sex scandal.

Another high profile, high ranking college administrator had vacated their office on the QT before the new school year started -- and when Stephanie Forsyth was still the college president.

The sordid details had this administrator having a sexual affair with a student at Red River. Since no charges were laid, it appears the student was of age, and, we're told, was in a different faculty. The problem for the administrator was that they had taken the student on trips.

Was the college on the hook for the hook-up? We may never know.

But the Board of Governors has now opened the question: did the gay sex scandal have any bearing on Stephanie Forsyth's departure? 
 
Did Forsyth, a lesbian, know about the same-sex affair between a staffer and a student and do nothing?

Awkward.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Stephanie Forsyth punted from Red River College: The real story why.



Stephanie Forsyth knew the jig was up when they started asking about her new marble floors counter tops and backsplash. (h/t to someone who knows)

There's a saying in baseball.  No, it's not "There's no crying in baseball."  The saying is "Three strikes and YOU'RE OUT!"

Strike One was discovering in March, 2013, that Red River College paid for $205 golf shoes, and the new tires for her car, and even her driver's licence -- which led to some repayment and a lot of red faces. (h/t CTF)

Strike Two was the revelation in November, 2013, that the college covered the cost of rented tables and chairs for a party Forsyth held at her house for friends who were attending the wedding of somebody whose name is being kept secret by Red River. Forsyth paid back the cost, even though college officials said the expense was perfectly legitimate. (Once again, thanks to the Taxpayers Federation)

But how to explain how marble, bought for the remodelling of the Union Bank Tower into the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, wound up in Stephanie Forsyth's house on Wellington Crescent? Impossible.

We've been through enough forced resignations to see through the "official" explanation for Stephanie Forsyth's sudden departure.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported that Richard Lennon. chairman of Red River's Board of Governors, said Forsyth approached the board in mid-August to discuss "moving on," and her departure took effect Sunday "by mutual agreement"."

He lied.

Let the facts tell the real story.

In late June, Forsyth's female spouse Debbie Scarborough told friends she had taken a job as executive director of South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWINS) in Penticton, British Columbia. She described it as an umbrella organization for transition house, safe homes, children who witness programs and other programs. She called it her dream job.

"Stephanie is staying in Winnipeg and at Red River College. We are doing the distance thing and commuting," she stated explicitly July 3.

On July 7, Forsyth, still expecting to keep her job, posted on her blog a policy change regarding application forms:

Continuing to Create an Open an Inclusive Campus
July 7, 2014
I am pleased to announce that Red River College has a new application form that is gender inclusive. Now, when prospective students apply for programming at RRC they will no longer be limited in their to choice to self-identify.
Students will now be able to select if they are male, female, another gender identity (this may include Aboriginal two-spirit, transgender, and other), and they may also choose to decline to answer as well.

http://www.stephanieforsyth.ca/

She was still using her Red River twitter account on July 13 when she retweeted some inane messages about flying cars, roll-up televisions, and hot weather in B.C.

Then sometime in the following three weeks the curtain came down on Forsyth's career at Red River College.

By the first week of August, citizen journalists in Winnipeg had been alerted to the granite trail, and were given the heads-up that "she will be leaving by the end of August."

The whistleblower had it pegged down to the exact date of her departure. More than a week before "mid-August", her fate had been cast. The only discussion she would be having with the board was how much their gross mistake in hiring her was costing the college.

On August 25, she retweeted a flurry of messages.  Then her twitter account went dead.
https://twitter.com/rrcprez

Richard Lennon and the rest of the  Red River Board of Governors have every reason to spin a phony story about why their prize hire is getting the bum's rush.
They were alerted three years ago that she was bad news who thought she was above little peoples' rules, and for whom ethics was a mug's game.

That was when Forsyth did a favour for her friend Margo Goodhand, then-editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, by ordering her college minions to kill a talk show on the college-sponsored radio station after Goodhand complained that the show was upsetting her reporters by its criticism.

The gesture backfired bigtime when the show's supporters did some digging and discovered that Forsyth was controlling the station through a secret and illegal committee that reported only to her. 

Once the CRTC caught wind of the scam, Forsyth scrapped funding for the station, killing it and eliminating the hands-on training given to radio broadcast students, and saddling Red River college with hundreds of thousands of dollars of the station's debt.
The Board covered for her during the radio scandal, and the golf shoes scandal, and the wedding party scandal.  But in a city ridden with one construction scandal after another for two years now, the granite was just too heavy to hide under the rug.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 01, 2014

The latest Winnipeg mayoral election poll: Next time try tarot cards.


It's hard to say who should be more embarrassed by the latest mayoral election poll --- the pollsters, the press, or the funders?
 
The first crowd-sourced election poll in Canada turned out to be such a bust that the pollsters had to invent something new to give its funders to justify taking their money.

Winnipeg's Probe Research Inc. issued a poll grading the support of the candidates for mayor, but with a 29 percent undecided response, the poll was less reliable than your daily horoscope. Ten percent undecided would be large.  Twenty percent would be huge.  But almost 30 percent is a joke, a bad joke that invalidates the alleged results.

In a desperate move to keep some credibility, Probe Research invented a momentum index, claiming to measure which candidates are moving up in public opinion and which down. 

When was the last time you heard of something like this?  Hint: NEVER.

But they had to deliver something to the private group, Manitoba Forward, and the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg who fronted most of the cost of this exercise and who should complain to the BBB of polling -- if there is such a thing.

Do you want to know how useless this mayoral poll is?  Just compare it to a similar poll conducted before the 2010 civic election:

Judy, Sam neck and neck in poll
Mayor a little behind challenger in one sample, a little ahead in other
By: Bartley Kives  Posted: 10/2/2010

THE METHODOLOGY Probe Research conducted telephone interviews with 600 randomly selected Winnipeg adults between Sept. 16 and 30. One can say with 95 per cent certainty that the results, taken from a subsample of 439 people who intend to vote, have a margin of error of 4.7 per cent. The sample was statistically weighted to conform to Winnipeg’s demographics.

THE LARGER SAMPLE If you look at the entire 600-person sample — including people who do not intend to vote — Katz is ahead of Wasylycia-Leis by a three-point mar­gin, 50 per cent to 47. The results re­main a statistical dead heat, within the margin of error of four per cent. Probe Research president Scott MacKay considers this sample a less reliable snapshot of actual voting intentions.
THE race for mayor of Winnipeg is now a statistical dead heat. Incum­bent Sam Katz has lost the polling lead he held all year and is now even with challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

According to a Probe Research poll conducted in late September exclu­sively for the Free Press, Wasylycia-Leis is the preferred choice of 50 per cent of Winnipeg voters. Katz sits three points behind with 47 per cent support and Brad Gross and Rav Gill garnered the remaining three per cent. The mar­gin of error for these results is 4.7 per cent.
snip
The overall results point to Winni­peg's closest mayoral race since 1998, when Glen Murray squeaked by Peter Kauffman by 10,569 votes.
  

Well.....as it turned out that poll was indicative of absolutely nothing.  Sam Katz trounced JustJudy by double digits.  He collected just shy of 55 percent of the vote, she not quite 43 percent. She lost by almost 25,500 votes, hardly the squeaker predicted by Probe.

The only benefit of the 2014 Probe mayoral poll was as fodder for the news media's narrative of the election campaign.  You see, modern journalists don't report the news anymore---they create the news, as CJOB's Richard Cloutier did when he disrupted a Gord Steeves news conference because Steeves wouldn't play the foil to CJOB's live broadcast. 

The current narrative is 'left-wing candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis (she's abandoned the folksy, aw shucks Just Judy persona) vs. a gang of right-wingers.' 

It's a retread. That was last year's media narrative also.

This year was supposed to be the sweep into City Hall of Brian Bowman, the Gen X candidate.  Only the Bowman appeal is zero with voters. His campaign has no traction. He actually thinks he'll win voters over with an endorsement from Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman, a millionaire who collects millions of dollars in subsidies from Winnipeg taxpayers because, goodness knows, he doesn't have enough millions yet.
The MSM spent all of last week flogging the 'Wasylycia-Leis is unbeatable' angle. Prior to that the Winnipeg Free Press published three stories on one week attacking candidate Gord Steeves, demonstrating who they think is the biggest threat to Judy Alphabet, as she calls herself.  They even pronounced his campaign dead after they learned his wife posted a message on the Internet saying how sick and tired she was of running a gauntlet downtown of scary drunk Indian panhandlers.

When that wasn't enough, Free Press columnist Dan Lett resorted to outright fantasy and fabrication to smear Steeves:

 "There was a time earlier in the campaign when it looked as if Steeves would drop out. He had a horrid start involving botched events and the resignation of some key campaign organizers.
Since then, however, he has delivered a barrage of campaign announcements, some intriguing, some poorly conceived. There was also the matter of an angry Facebook rant by his wife against homeless aboriginals."

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/bowman-steeves-making-it-a-one-horse-race-273147051.html

That never happened.

She never mentioned homeless aboriginals. This is a complete and total invention by Dan Lett.  Years past, Lett tried to show how clever he was by quoting his wife, who allegedly made the pithy observation that you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

That, obviously, was before Lett found how much fun he had making up "facts".

This egregious attempt to malign Gord Steeves is just part of the pattern of Lett's writings. We addressed his confessed bias in his columns two years ago:

http://blackrod.blogspot.ca/2012/04/jury-is-in-on-dan-lett-verdict-guilty.html

At a real newspaper, he would be disciplined for printing lies. But the attacks on Steeves are part of the Winnipeg Free Press narrative on the election, and will be rewarded, instead.
*****************

Speaking of mainstream media incompetence, here's some of the ever-popular:
Professional Journalists At Work
"New crowd-funded poll gives Wasylycia-Leis 16-point lead in mayoral race
By: Mary Agnes Welch  Winnipeg Free Press  Posted: 08/28/2014 3:30 PM |
The poll was conducted over the weekend using a custom online panel and has a margin or error of +/- 4 per cent."
*****
"Wasylycia-Leis tops 2nd mayoral poll
By Kristin Annable, Winnipeg Sun
First posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 02:43 PM CDT |
The data for the country’s first crowdfunded election survey was collected from 603 Winnipeggers between Aug. 22 and Aug. 25, and is accurate to +/-4% at a 95% certainty level."
*****
"Bowman Not Going To Leave Mayoral Race
Kim Lawson CJOBAugust 29, 2014 02:45 pm
The survey was conducted with 603 members of Probe Research’s proprietary online panel and has a margin of error of +/- 4 per cent, 19 times out of 20."
******The facts:  Probe Research Inc. Aug. 28, 2014:
This survey was conducted with 603 members of Probe Research’s proprietary online panel.

Because this is a non-probability sample,
no statistical margin of error can be ascribed.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lameduck Mayor Sam Katz steps up to fill Robin Williams' shoes




Is Sam Katz auditioning for a new career as a comedian?

He's no Robin Williams, but you've got to start somewhere.  

When the news broke that the province of Manitoba had asked the RCMP to review the trio of city audits that uncovered massive favoritism in handing out construction contracts "and to conduct any investigations it considers appropriate," Katz tapped his funny bone to knock off some one-liners in the form of a "statement."

His best: "The province has made their decision and chosen to exercise their right to refer to the RCMP, and all of council would support their decision, and I hope this brings closure."

Bwahaha. Now that's funny.

It may be too subtle for many people, but it's in the true tradition of understated British humour.

You see, Katz is saying just the opposite. 

He and his council cabal voted AGAINST sending the audits to the provincial justice department, a move made by councillors in the hope the province would call in the Mounties.  

The vote was razor-thin, 8-7 to approve the motion. One councillor didn't vote -- Justin Swandel, Katz's sidekick, his Ed McMahon to Sam's Johnny Carson, the guy who sits there and guffaws at his master's lame jokes.

The council meeting ran late and Swandel left for an appointment. If he stayed he would have cast the tying vote that would have killed the motion to refer to the province.

Now that's funny, Sam Katz's staunchest ally ensured the RCMP would be called in to investigate Sam Katz's administration.

Katz isn't running for re-election because the humourless electorate might not find the scandals that have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars so funny. Instead, he's adopted the old adage: always leave 'em laughing.

But the RCMP review might not be the "closure" the lameduck mayor wants.

The police might just expand on the "prima facie" case built by the audits and dig deeper into the cozy relationship between the mayor, his best friend and the city's chief administrative officer, and his other friend and investor and beneficiary of the best friend's largesse. Who knows, the Mounties might just travel to Scottsdale, Arizona, to ask questions about the million dollar house Sam Katz bought from  sister of an executive of Shindico for $10 "and other considerations." 

But for a comedian it's all grist for the mill. Sam Katz even has his punchline written and waiting:
"When it comes to ability, intelligence and integrity, this jury wouldn't even qualify to be in the same building, let alone the same room, as Phil Sheegl."

Nanu Nanu.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The public lynching of mayoral candidate Gord Steeves



The public lynching of mayoral candidate Gord Steeves last Wednesday was not only ugly, it was a frightening display of how an uncontrolled news mob will gladly abandon ethics and propriety for self-promotion.


Having invented a scandal, Winnipeg's best known purported professional journalists descended on a Steeves news conference determined to stir more controversy -- even if they had to manufacture it.


The most egregious faux-journalist was CJOB's news director, Richard Cloutier. CJOB, with its listenership in freefall, has decided that the way to recoup its ratings is with stunts. So they determined they would go live to the Steeves news conference where, just maybe if they were lucky, trouble would break out.

The problem with going live is that you can't control the event. So when Steeves began eating up time outlining a policy proposal to improve the lives of Winnipegers, it was more than Cloutier could stand. 

Cloutier disrupted the news conference by shouting out questions that had nothing to do with the announcement Steeves was making.  He decided to throw off the mantle of journalist and become an actor in his own radio drama.
Instead of reporting news, he would create news.  Hey, look at me, I'm Dan Rather!  Except we know how Dan Rather ended up when he started making up the news, don't we.

Making yourself part of the story, isn't that Professional Journalist Ethics 101?  And civility? Screw it. What about telling voters what an election candidate will do for them? Oh, please. How Old School. Nobody cares what candidates stand for, do they?

Certainly not Cloutier. Of course, after the election he will be whining about why there was a low turnout, how candidates should be more specific about their "vision", how awful it is that voters make their decisions based on personality, blah blah blah.

Cloutier's interruption got others in the small crowd to start heckling.  Maybe, finally, the news media would get the confrontation they were hoping for.

When announcing the news conference, the Steeves camp had asked the news desks to embargo the location.  He didn't want the event to become a circus.  But the newsrooms did.

APTN was first to formally break the embargo and announce the location where Steeves would be.  They argued that since they weren't directly invited, they weren't bound by any embargo.  But how, then, did they know where the news conference would be?  Obviously, because someone at one of the major newsrooms leaked it to them to generate an anti-Steeves crowd. And that would mean the confrontation the reporters wanted.

Manipulating events instead of reporting news. Yep, professional journalist ethics in action.

The media mob also manipulated words in its attack on Gord Steeves.

Years of media bias criticism has taught citizens how to read the biases of news outlets. 
Note how effortlessly all the Winnipeg newrooms referred to the "racist" Facebook post made by Steeves wife.  
Take the CBC headline:
"Gord Steeves defends wife, tries to explain racist comments"

Or Megan Batchelor's reporting for Global Winnipeg:
"WINNIPEG-Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves broke his silence Tuesday and announced in spite of a racist Facebook post made by his wife in 2010, he will stay in the race to become Winnipeg’s next mayor."
Except that it wasn't racist. 

She didn't show any prejudice towards Indians, just "drunken native guys" who harass people on the skywalks of Winnipeg. Indeed, she wanted them to improve themselves by getting an education and jobs so they don't need to harass people for handouts.

Now compare that with the comments one year ago by NDP Cabinet Minister Eric Robinson who was caught sending a racist email showing prejudice against white people.  Robinson confirmed his prejudice in a television interview the next day, and declared that as an Indian he had a right to be prejudiced.  
NOT ONE NEWS OUTLET IN WINNIPEG labelled his email as "racist" in their news stories.  NOT ONE.

So the term "racist" is thrown about as a label to smear the people the "professional journalists" want smeared for their own purposes.

But the reporting on the Steeves news conference was riddled with equally biased wording.

Megan Batchelor, again:

"Steeves attempted to side-step the issue and unveil a policy on permits and zoning variances. The announcement was interrupted by questions about his status as a candidate."

Note how she carefully side-steps the issue of who interrupted the candidate -- to hide the fact that it was CJOB news director Richard Cloutier.

The Winnipeg Free Press joined Global in falsely reporting Steeves' intentions:

"He initially wanted to skirt the entire issue by trying to discuss civic policy, but was shouted down by hecklers and the media at a press conference Tuesday at Bonnycastle Park."

The public isn't fooled anymore, and to the news media's chagrin, the Internet allows citizens to talk back without the media filter:

Livio Ciaralli 11:52pm Aug 12 
Why was Cloutier interrupting and asking him if he was going to quit. Really Cloutier ???!!! Why should he quit ? Do you manage what your wife says ? Don't professional reporters have a code of conduct. Let the candidate speak, then ask him questions.

Reporters rushed to foster controversy by getting Indian observers to criticize Steeves. There was Chief Jim Bear from the Brokenhead Reserve who was "frustrated" and "disappointed". And Chief Betsy Kennedy from the War Lake Reserve who was inspired that more aboriginal Winnipeggers would vote in the coming election.

But the biased reporters forgot to do some basic research.  
A quick search of the Aboriginal Affairs website shows that neither Brokenhead nor War Lake have filed their band financial statements as required by the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. 
In short, the same time as they're telling Winnipegers how to vote, they're breaking the law.  What role models of public governance.

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Dan Lett wrote his own version of the Steeves news conference.  Almost immediately, other attendees took to the Internet to challenge his version of the facts. 

Wrote Lett:

"As Gord Steeves left Bonnycastle Park on Tuesday, an aboriginal man in a smart grey business suit approached him and asked for a chance to talk. 

The man, Kevin Hart, chairman of the Circle of Life Thunderbird House, had been watching Steeves respond to the controversy over Steeves' wife Lorrie's angry Facebook rant against "drunken native guys."
 
Hart stood close to Steeves the entire time he tried to explain the two incidents involving aggressive panhandlers that prompted his wife to post the rant.
 
When the news conference was over, Hart calmly circled around the throng of media to intercept Steeves on his way to his car. When approached, Steeves declined to speak to him. Without breaking stride, he headed to his car."

That's not the way others who were there saw it. They took to the Comments to tell what they saw.

Gordon Halushka
7:13 AM on 8/13/2014
"The same guy who was heckling non-stop and you know it.lett.

4:11 PM on 8/12/2014
Nope. He did not. Others did.
Dan Lett
The guy in the grey business suit was heckling and harassing Gord Steeves,we have it on video,Mr. Lett and you denied it to maintain your narrative,Gord Steeves the racist.
You owe the public an apology.

Dan Lett
8:46 AM on 8/13/2014
He made one comment during the news conference, and it was uttered so quietly that only those of us who were standing right beside him (I am right off to the camera left) could hear what he said. And then for the rest of the event, he said absolutely nothing. That is proven by the video.

anonymity_personified
9:17 AM on 8/13/2014
You couldn't be more disengenuous if you tried lett. The dude was staring steeves down and crowding into his personal space. It was intimidation 101.

Old Flin Flon
9:59 AM on 8/13/2014
Gee Dan. I guess you were caught in a little LIE. Twice. But twisting the truth seems to have become your mudus operendi.
After reporting on the porr aboriginal gentleman who just wanted to have a word to clear the air, it now appears you were and are conspiring to create a little more news. After the humiliation you and Gordon suffered last week, one would have hoped you would be chastised before trying to ruin a few more people. But, oh know, you have proven yorself to be worse than a biased reporter/columnist. This week you have demonstrated yourself to be an honesty challenged activist. Maybe all this is about trying to "impress" the new boss.

You would think that something as basic as getting the facts straight would be a matter of concern to the editorial department, but we'll see.

Lett didn't help his case when responding to a complaint of having a double standard---of attacking Gord Steeves while ignoring the racism of Eric Robinson.  He just tried to rewrite history.
Dan Lett
8:50 AM on 8/13/2014
My conclusion was that the comments were racist and that, as a person who has suffered under the residential schools system and systemic racism most of his life, there was a context there that helped explain - not excuse - the comments Robinson made. Very similarly, I have taken pains not to call Lorrie Steeves a racist. But what she said was racist. We have some context now but I think you're still missing the point.

Comments uttered by a victim of racism and similar comments uttered by someone who felt provoked, but who otherwise has never experienced racism are not the same.
The fact that the great non-aboriginal majority has no empathy for that distinction is hardly surprising. A bit sad really, but no shocker.

If he "concluded" that Robinson's comments were racist, he failed to say so publicly.  
In his column on the minister's racist email, Lett never once used the words "racist email." The closest he came was in paragraph 19 of his 20 paragraph column when he wrote:
"For now, Robinson has been forced to fight the allegations he is a racist with a recitation of his long and decorated political career."

Inventing a scandal. 
Reinventing history. 
The Winnipeg MSM in action.    
Shame.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hate the federal Conservative Party? The Winnipeg Free Press is hiring.


The Winnipeg Free Press appears to be gearing up for the next federal election by hiring the most strident hater of the Conservative Party they could find to join their editorial department.

We're not talking about FP Editor Paul Samyn, who was the biggest shill for the Liberal Party in Ottawa when he was the newspaper's Parliamentary reporter.  See http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2006/10/fp-admits-bad-reporting-still-says.html for details.

This past weekend Samyn announced that "we have a new editor responsible for the perspectives you will be reading both in print and on-line. Shannon Sampert, an expert in Canadian politics and the media, joins our newsroom from the University of Winnipeg...Shannon becomes the first woman to oversee our editorial pages. I think Dafoe would be proud."

Shannon Sampert was no stranger to The Black Rod (more about that in a minute). We more-or-less ignored her in her teaching job at the U of W, but when we learned she was in a position to influence public opinion through manipulation of the city's largest daily newspaper, we decided to look closer at the slant she's likely to bring to the editorial pages "in print and on-line."

In 2000, Sampert was the vice-president of communications for the Alberta Liberal Party.  But that was a long time ago and indicative of nothing more than a decade later. Or was it?

In her Twitter profile Sampert describes herself as "left-of-centre."

Read on to see through her Tweets what's considered left-of-centre in academic and MSM circles:

Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  2 Feb 2012
In Canada, under #Harper, the earth is flat and the sky is yellow and truth is what Sun News tells us.
***********
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  20 Jan 2012
hell freezes over. I agree with CPC. @WinnipegNews: MacKay puts the kibosh on order of 20,000 stress balls
http://bit.ly/Ay9Buk
**********
Shannon Sampert  @PaulySigh
I regret that the rest of that reads: his newser but for a minute my hopes were up.
RT@natnewswatch: Wow, Harper is finished
 
***************
 Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  13 Apr 2012
Air Canada should have sick days when #cpc MPs are trying to fly home. #missedopportunity #ac

 
********************
11:21 AM - 2 Apr 2012
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  2 Apr 2012
Vic Toews goes to the hospital by ambulance because of the flu. I am fighting my sarcastic urges right now.

****************************
Sampert re-tweets a lot of other people's messages, and one of her favorite commenters is Stephen Lautens, of' Toronto, who describes himself on his Twitter account as "recovering lawyer, passionate & progressive moderate... occasional columnist..."

See, from her re-tweets, what passes as a "passionate moderate" in Sampert's circle.

Retweeted by Shannon Sampert
 Stephen Lautens @stephenlautens  ·  Jul 19
#putharperonthestand (
put harper on the stand...ed.) and watch him burst into flames as he swears to tell the truth. #cdnpoli
***********************
 Stephen Lautens @stephenlautens  ·  Jul 27
Harper renames Therese Casgrain Volunteer Awards the "Prime Minister's Awards." In related news, Boy Scouts renamed "Harper Youth" #cdnpoli

Harper Youth/ Hitler Youth.  Get it? 

Always a knee-slapper at Sampert's house.

For real insight into how classy this guy is, see what he wrote following the sudden death of former Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty:

(TO BE CLEAR, THIS APPEARED ON LAUTENS' TWITTER SITE AND WAS NOT RETWEETED BY SHANNON SAMPERT.)

i'd be willing to pay for a lot more state funerals for Conservatives. A lot more... #cdnpoli
— Stephen Lautens (@stephenlautens) April 11, 2014
 

Another of Sampert's favorites is Dan Gardner.  She loves the guy. We know because she told everyone so.
 
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  15 Mar 2012
I've decided I love @dgardner -- the man speaks the cynical truth!

*****************
Here's what to expect on Middle East coverage when Shannon Sampert gets control of what goes into the Free Press editorial pages:

/dgardnerDan Gardner @dgardner · Jul 17
Fanaticism, illustrated. Later on the very day that four children are killed, the CPC tweets this:
https://twitter.com/CPC_HQ/status/489568552282624000
Conservative Party @CPC_HQ
Through fire and water, Canada will stand with Israel. Add your name if…
 
What about local news?  Sampert tipped her hand here too.

‏@PaulySigh
8Thank god property taxes have gone up. It's ridiculous how little I pay. I'd rather see better transit, snow removal and paving thanks. 
*********************
 
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  26 Apr 2012
If Wpg police want more officers and another helicopter, watch for the release of scare tactic "stats". #bewary #beingplayed
 
Sampert didn't rise to the bait when someone tried on Twitter goading her with accusations of being a lesbian.  But she did show her real attitude towards men with this re-tweet.
 
2:41 PM - 28 Feb 2012
Retweeted by Shannon Sampert
TrillNPresent Danger @_Roxie_ · Jul 25
"@sassycrass: I'll say it again: most men don't learn misogyny as misogyny. You learn it as Being A Man."

And Shannon Sampert appears to be a regular reader of The Black Rod.

Shannon Sampert‏@PaulySigh
The Black Rod Blog is calling the MSM handling of the expirey date comment against Neville a drive by smear. Pot calling the kettle black!
11:32 AM - 2 Apr 2011

That's not surprising given as how we gave her her first major ink in this city six years ago in an article titled 'Mayor or Moose.'  It's still one of our best.

But given her new job at the Winnipeg Free Press, the details of the humourous story take on a more sinister shading.  It appears Sampert is a fan of censorship and of intimidating others who don't share her extremist views.

She'll fit right in at the FP.

******************************************
The Black Rod was also on the mind of FP columnist Dan Lett yesterday.

Lett jumped into a comments thread to deliver a fine rant against our story pointing out how badly out-of-touch the Winnipeg Free Press was with the public in Winnipeg:

Here's a sample:

Dan Lett
8:43 AM on 8/11/2014
We are supposed to take notice when some anonymous blogger agrees that the racist comments made by another individual are justified? Someone who wants to portray downtown as a place where people are regularly terrorized by the panhandlers?

Come on folks. I can assure you that I spend more time downtown that most of you. My spouse works right downtown. Having grown up in a larger city that I still visit regularly, I can tell you that big cities are all about the collision of affluence and abject poverty. It's one of the predictable, lamentable facts of bloody life. But terrorized? Seriously?

...Winnipeggers are such big babies about the panhandling threat.
 
Nobody wants to be asked for spare change by someone who may be under the influence of some substance. It's uncomfortable and awkward. But to characterize downtown as some sort of war zone - who is really employing the hyperbole here.

Bottom line - congrats to the one anonymous dude who uses his posts to plug the other anonymous dude's hateful commentary. Another blow for transparency, accountability and public debate.

Hee hee.   You might take this seriously if you didn't know that Dan Lett, the Winnipeg Free Press Golden Boy, just made up his own facts.
Nowhere did we say that anybody was "terrorized."  Read the story for yourself. Lett just made that up. 

He set up a straw man, punched him, kicked him, poked him in his imaginary eyes, knocked him down, jumped on him while pounding on his own chest and shouting "Look at me. I'm so tough."

Hee hee.  You know why somebody has to fight a straw man, don't you. It's because they can't win an argument, so they need a diversion.

By pretending to beat up an imaginary man of their own invention, they get to pretend they're winners, not loooosers.  Hee hee.

But did Danny think we wouldn't spot this: "I can assure you that I spend more time downtown that most of you."  You see, there's a reason why Dan spends so much time downtown, and it's not because he's hyping the Free Press News Cafe on McDermot.

Dan's wife, Becky Lett, is a librarian.  And, whooo, there's a library downtown. 
Who would have a better front-row seat to the drunks downtown than a librarian?  Maybe Becky Lett can tell us why the downtown library stations security guards at the top of the stairs leading from the overhead walkway?  Or why the police do walk-throughs the library so often. Or, give us more details of the threats on the life of a security guard who was removing riff raff (an event reported in the Winnipeg Sun and repeated in The Black Rod).

C'mon Dan, Let's hear the skinny about downtown directly from your wife Becky.

Lett, you recall, was one of those who went to great lengths to excuse the racist attitude of NDP cabinet minister Eric Robinson.
 

It was only in paragraph 19 of a 20-paragraph story that Lett allowed himself to use the word "racist."  He spoke about "inflammatory email remarks" and a "charged, racially motivated comment" before finally, reluctantly, concluding with "allegations he is a racist."

But he had no hesitation calling 'racism' on the private, non-government, observations of the wife of a mayoral candidate that Lett wants defeated.

Funny how that works, isn't it. 

The Free Press can smear with impunity those they want out of office, while excusing the most egregious behaviour from those they want in. 

That's professional journalists at work.

************
As a brief aside, while Dan Lett was defending Eric Robinson for his attack on white people who tried to improve the lives of Indian, Lett was keeping very, very silent about an event that had been held at the FP News Cafe.

You see, nine months earlier, the News Cafe hosted the star of the very fundraiser that prompted Robinson's racist comments.

Here's how the newspaper hyped her appearance:

The temperature is falling outside but it was heating up at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café Thursday afternoon.

Miss La Muse, a local burlesque dancer stopped by to discuss an important fundraiser for Osborne House.
Proceeds from the sale of Foxy Shoppe Calendar will be given to Osborne House, which provides a safe and supportive environment for women and children who are experiencing domestic abuse.

A calendar launch party is being held at The Foxy Shoppe at 87 King Street from 7-9 Friday evening.
Miss La Muse also put on a short performance at the cafe. Watch a replay here.

Labels: , ,