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 since 2005, 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

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:

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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.

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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."

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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