The Black Rod

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

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Sammie Award for best actor in a civic scandal goes to ... Brian Bowman

It's award season.  Step aside Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Oscars...

...we're going to honour the best performances deserving a Sammie, the city of Winnipeg award for scandal, shame, conspiracy, cover-up, audits and police investigations.

The  nominations are in.

For the best portrayal of disgraced Mayor Sam Katz in a civic scandal:  Know Nothing Mayor Brian Bowman.

For the best portrayal of Sandy Shindleman in a civic scandal:  Mark Chipman, Bowman's biggest booster.

For the best ensemble portrayal of Shindico in a civic scandal: True North Entertainment.

For the best portrayal of disgraced CAO Phil Sheegl in a civic scandal: a tie between CentreVenture board chair Kurt Vossen and CentreVenture board member Richard Olfert.

Honorable mention:  soon-to-be-fired CAO Deepak Joshi as himself.

We've seen this movie before, haven't we?

The mayor's friend gets a secret real-estate deal worth millions. Councillors who should be watchdogs are told they have no time to get answers; the deal has to be rubber-stamped immediately or we'll get sued-slash-we'll lose federal funding. The mayor is, ahem, "unhappy", but...well, what can he do?  And anyway, it's a great deal for the city.

Yep.  Seen it.

Bowman put on his unhappy face at this week's special executive policy committee meeting and tried to act tough. Grrrr. I'm unhappy, he said.

He was unhappy that CentreVenture had made a secret deal with True North to build a fancy hotel next to the Convention Centre. By doing so they stabbed in the back a company hired by the Convention Centre to expand the facility and build a new hotel as part of their contract.

A CentreVenture spokesman said that in the past they had fed the other company leads on possible partners in building the proposed hotel.  But not this time. This time they negotiated with True North themselves and kept their deal secret.

By doing so they snookered the other company into paying them $3.7 million as a penalty for not building the hotel they promised.  They needed the money to pay down the $6.6 million they spent to buy and demolish an old hotel adjacent to the Convention Centre where the new one will rise.  Hee hee. Sucker!

Bowman said he was unhappy.  As a lawyer, what CentreVenture did didn't seem right. Or legal. But what's done is done.  And he had to look tough.  So he ordered CentreVenture -- yes, ordered --  to hold a public competition for development ideas that would include a hotel for the Convention Centre.

Now, in the week prior, Bowman had declared he would accept nothing less than a request for proposals, an RFP.

This week he flip-flopped and settled for an "expression of interest", an EOI, for the land.  That's a step or two below an RFP, not that it matters.

For, you see, it's all for show.

Bowman, wearing his I'm tough and unhappy face, wants the public to believe he's leveled the playing field, so to speak.  He's opened the competition to everyone who is interested.  Fairsey squaresy.

Except that True North has a nine month headstart on any other competing developer. 

Oh, and the judges of the EOI will be CentreVenture, which already has a deal with True North.

They are sitting at the finish line with the first-place trophy already engraved with True North's name.
So, what's the charade  of an EOI going to accomplish?

And the winner of the Sammie is ...

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cool. Boy Mayor Brian Bowman gets his own development scandal.

We're so dizzy we're bumping into walls.

Who wouldn't be after a day of scandal after scandal like we saw Wednesday.

Where should we start?  Should we start with the latest land development scandal?

Oh, you're bored with land development scandals.  All developers are crooks; all politicians are corrupt; nobody ever gets charged or fired or held accountable; and it's going to cost taxpayers millions, as usual. 

Hey, were you peeking at our notes? But this one is different, kinda. Listen:

The Winnipeg Convention Centre was looking pretty dowdy. It needed a makeover. And while they were at it, they could make it bigger, because conventions these days are really, really big and if you want to attract the best ones, you have to be big enough to host them.

So they had a contest to see who could do the job at the best price and picked a company called Stuart Olson. But there was one teeny catch. Isn't there always?

Convention goers want to stay in top-of-the-line name hotels to collect loyalty points. So part of the deal called for Stuart Olson to build a hotel right by the new Convention Centre for a high-end hotel chain.

Easier said than done. While they had the land (CentreVenture, the agency charged with jumpstarting development in downtown Winnipeg, bought the Carlton Hotel and demolished it), Stuart Olson couldn't nail down an interested hotel chain. And time was running out. The expansion project will be finished this year, and  they can't wait forever to start building an adjoining hotel.

This is the part everyone agrees on.  
The next part no one agrees on.

The Convention Centre has a contract with Stuart Olson that calls for SO to build a suitable hotel. Or not. Yesterday we were told the contract was never signed.  Or maybe it was. We don't know because they can't get their story straight.

CentreVenture said Stuart Olson went to a meeting in April and threw in the towel.  We can't find anyone who wants a hotel here, they allegedly said.  The Convention Centre  says baloney, Stuart Olson  didn't stop looking for a partner until last week.  And they may even have whipped up a suitable deal, but CentreVenture wouldn't talk to Stuart Olson about it and it died.

CentreVenture says they found their own hotel developer. Everybody at City Hall is being hush hush and pretending they don't know who it is. But outside of City Hall its an open secret. Longboat. The development arm of the Chipman family, including son Mark who owns the Winnipeg Jets.

But then it gets confusing. (What? You thought that was confusing?  Nertz.)

The Convention Centre has a binding contract (or not) with Stuart Olson to build a hotel on land owned by CentreVenture. CentreVenture says it's given an option on that land to a developer which is not Stuart Olson. The Convention Centre says they may have had a deal which was scuttled by CentreVenture because CentreVenture had their own secret deal of which, of course, they didn't tell anyone. 

Oh, and the deal is with a company connected to Mark Chipman, who as of November, 2014 was still listed on the CentreVenture board of directors ... (Sure, now you're interested) ... and who very publicly endorsed Mayor Brian Bowman. Bowman is the honorary chairman (ex officio) of the CentreVenture board of directors. The twitteratti are already calling Mark Chipman Brian Bowman's Sandy Shindleman.

Bowman, the mature statesman, said yesterday the whole stab-in-the-back thing is "not cool."

Still not enough?

Well, the chairman of the board of the Convention Centre is none other than Bob Silver, the co-owner of the Winnipeg Free Press.  You would think that the owner of the bloody newspaper would make sure his own reporters got the facts right.  But you would be wrong.  It's not that they got the facts wrong, it's just that everybody has their own facts and nobody is sorting them out.

Maybe somebody from the city could step in and be that person.  Uh, nope. CentreVenture says they kept city officials in the loop the whole time.  But by city officials they mean NOT city councillors or the mayor.

CentreVenture means they talked with the real power brokers at city council -- the administration, which would undoubtedly include acting CAO Deepak Joshi.

You know Deepak Joshi. His name pops up frequently in the audits of the firehall boondoggles.  Yet somehow he was appointed in October, 2013, as acting-Chief Administrative Officer to replace Phil Sheegl, the architect of the firehall scandals. He was told to replace himself asap. He managed to avoid that task for 15 months.

But now he's on the fast track to getting fired. Bowman suspended him for 3 days, EPC extended the suspension for 30 days during which they will recommend he get the boot and council will tell him to bend over. Bowman never said why he lost confidence in Joshi. 

In fact, at the first meeting of the new council he defended Joshi when defeated mayoral candidate David Sanders warned about the mindset of the administration.

Said Sanders. "We have just seen altogether recently too much evidence of Lord Acton's dictum that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

"Unfortunately, most senior administrators have come to believe that they are in charge at City Hall and they can ignore elected councillors with impunity."

Bowman delivered Sanders a pompous lecture about the laws of defamation. When the facts of the Convention Centre hotel fiasco trickled out, he learned that Sanders had been right all along. Bowman flip-flopped and turned on Joshi.

He still owes Sanders an apology, though.  That would be cool, dude.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Winnipeg Police -- too many and too useless, said Finance Chair Marty Morantz

Not only did new councillor and professed lawyer Marty Morantz demonstrate last week his total ignorance of the law governing council, but he doubled down to say he didn't care what the law was, he was going to bully city employees around and they had better like it.
If this is an indication of the calibre of appointees to 'Know Nothing' Brian Bowman's civic government, then Winnipeggers will soon be wishing for a return of Mayor Sam Katz and what was then known as the most dysfunctional council in memory.

Bowman, whose knowledge of how city council functions is zero, decided to start his term in office by attacking the city auditor. Two days later, Morantz decided he would attack the police department and thereby demonstrate he's even more clued out over how the city runs than Bowman. What an accomplishment.

Upon presentation of the Winnipeg Police Service Third Quarter Financial Report, Morantz lobbed questions at Deputy Police Chief Art Stannard about why the police couldn't find savings in their budget (they call it "efficiencies") and why the force was bloated by officers who should be retired.

Stannard patiently explained that the rules now required the police to report to the new Police Board and for city council to ask the Board for answers. Morantz would have none of that.

HE was MARTY MORANTZ,  and HE, MARTY MORANTZ, was chairman of the finance committee, and no underling would tell him, MARTY MORANTZ, how to do things;  HE, MARTY MORANTZ, was in charge and HE, MARTY MORANTZ, was DEMANDING--YES, DEMANDING---answers from the deputy chief, the law be damned.

The other members of the finance committee--veteran councillor and  Deputy Mayor Mike Pagtakhan and, would you believe, new councillor and chairman of the Police Board Scott Gillingham --- sat like dummies, refusing to challenge the presumptuous chairman.
There are too many police and too many are useless, railed the imperious Morantz, doing his best to intimidate and humiliate the deputy chief. See. Look at me. I'M MARTY MORANTZ, and I'm a tough guy when it comes to city finances. 
Morantz was in such a rush to throw his weight around he failed to do even the most rudimentary research.

He could have read the 347-page Operational Review of the Police Service that was commissioned by city council and received in August, 2013,  17 whole months before Morantz's grandstanding performance.
This report is mandatory reading for anybody in civic government dealing with the police service who doesn't want to sound like a fool.  For 'fool' read 'Marty Morantz'.
That report contained many examples of  "efficiencies" open to the Winnipeg police, as well as suggestions as to where police positions could be eliminated and/or filled by civilians

. The report by the Matrix Consulting Group identified more than 75 positions ranging from 18 in the Central Reading Unit, 12 in Human Resources (civilians should be doing that job), and 25 at the airport (we lost the contract) to 3 constables in the Stolen Auto Unit, one constable in the Pawn Shop Detail, and the two constables with the Mounted Patrol.

Moranz could have asked which suggestions were adopted, which weren't, which could be, which shouldn't.  But that is obviously beyond the capability of a lawyer who writes wills for a living.  In which case Morantz could have had a private discussion with the head of the Police Board,  WHO SITS RIGHT BESIDE HIM ON THE FINANCE COMMITTEE. 
Instead, Morantz chose to be an arrogant pissant.
Winnipeg has had enough of this conceit.  We had our fill from Phil Sheegl, who came highly recommended by Mayor Sam Katz as the smartest guy in the room. We're still cleaning up the rubble left behind by that duo.  Was there a hint in the fact that Marty Morantz was a financial donor to Katz's election campaign?
What we've seen so far from 'Know Nothing' Brian Bowman and his henchman I'M MARTY MORANTZ is two lawyers from Charleswood/River Heights who want to jack up taxes to fund their pet projects while hacking services to the little people (who do we need so many police anyway? what do they do all day?).
Bowman claims he wants more transparency and accountability in this council. He's certainly demonstrated the need to be extremely vigilant with him and his council appointees.

Last Friday, Bowman backed Marty Morantz's public grilling of Deputy Police Chief Art Stannard.  But by Monday he was squeaking a different tune.

Police Chief Devon Clunis was out of town on vacation last week when Morantz implied the police force should be forcing a whack of officers to retire and that "it looks to me that there are a lot of officers hanging around now.” 

Clunis got back on the weekend and made a beeline for Bowman.  By the time their, ahem, meeting ended, it was clear who the alpha male in the room was and who was his bitch.

The pair held a joint news conference Monday.

"I want to re-affirm my support and council’s support for the invaluable work the members of the Winnipeg Police Service do each and every day," mumbled Bowman with a mouthful of crow.

"I support fully what our deputy chief said and from the comments I’ve read, I would have taken the same actions." said a stone-faced Clunis.

The police department had his full support,  said Bowman, adding that it was clear "to everyone now" that police report to the police board.

'Everyone' meaning Marty Morantz who was summoned to a meeting with Clunis and the mayor before the newser.

There he was fitted with a muzzle and told to "stay".  He did, neither showing his face at the news conference nor appearing to answer questions from reporters afterward.

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Winnipeg city councillors give the new mayor a nickname.

New Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman already has a nickname at City Hall.

Bozo Bowman.


Two thirds of the way into his first hundred days in office, his colleagues on council have decided he's a legend in his own mind.

'Know Nothing' Brian Bowman promised to do City Hall differently, to "hit the ground running", to "think big."

So on Wednesday, what did he do?  Bowman decided to pick a fight and to do it 'old style', namely to follow the footsteps of former mayor Sam Katz step for step. 

How's that for doing things differently?

Bowman adopted Katz's sleazy tactic of "walking on" a motion to executive policy committee. 
That's politico-speak for slipping a motion onto the agenda at the last minute and expecting your toadies to ram it through without debate.  So what happened?  What do you think?  Bowman's toadies on EPC rammed the motion through without debate. He "hit the ground running."

And who does Bowman want to scrap with?  Why, city auditor Brian Whiteside, the man whose audits almost single-handedly exposed the bid-rigging, the handing of untendered contracts to favorite contractors, the waste of millions of tax dollars in a raft of mismanaged (to use a polite word) projects.

Puffing up his scrawny lawyer's chest, Know Nothing Bowman demanded, yea demanded, that Whiteside produce a written report - in two weeks - telling what's been done to implement the dozens of recommendations contained in three property audits, including the construction of new firehalls disaster and the new police headquarters fiasco.

"Council asked the auditor to report on a quarterly basis, that has not happened in a year," Bowman sniffed to reporters. "So, that has to happen and it has to happen very quickly."  Ooohh, what a tough guy.

But it might be that it's Bowman who's cruisin' for a bruisin'.

In his 2013 report to council, Whiteside discussed the audits and the "quarterly report card":

Advisory Services
Quarterly Report Card

The Audit Department’s work does not end when an audit report is presented to City Council. The most important component of an audit recommendation is its implementation. The Public Service provides a response to each audit recommendation in the audit report along with an action plan.

The subsequent implementation of the audit recommendations in accordance with the action plans is the responsibility of the Public Service.

Since 2006, the Status of Audit Recommendations Quarterly Report Card is reported to Audit Committee. The Quarterly Report Card is produced at the end of March, June, September and December and is presented at the next Audit Committee. While the Audit Department facilitates the process, the Quarterly Report Card presents management’s representations as to the status of recommendations implemented, in progress, or not to be implemented.

For recommendations in progress, an implementation strategy and timeframe is provided. For recommendations not to be implemented, an explanation is provided. The Audit Department does not audit the responses but does provide an opinion on the completeness of the responses and the reasonableness of action plans proposed. The CAO and appropriate departmental staff attend Audit Committee to respond to any questions members may raise regarding the project updates.

In a nutshell, he said the quarterly reports are up to the city management to prepare. The Auditor only comments on the completeness. 

So, it seems that if there have been no quarterly reports, blame the CAO ( in this case, Deepak Joshi.)

Our city hall sources say Bowman is flailing around trying to find money to balance the budget, and generally making an ass of himself.

Perhaps he's looking ahead to the next budget --  and panicking.

Bowman promised to raise taxes only at the rate of inflation.  By the start of December, 2014, the annual inflation rate for Canada was 1.95 percent. It may have fallen even lower by the end of the year. 

If it's Manitoba inflation he's using as his standard, taxpayers are in even better luck. The Manitoba inflation rate to December, 2014 was 1.1 percent.

When it comes to tax increases, voters want councillors to think small.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Callin' The Newsmaker of the Year 2014

Despite ISP problems that have hobbled us for weeks, we can't let the year go by without our annual naming of the Newsmaker of the Year.
While reviewing the news stories of 2014, we were surprised how many carried the fingerprints of this man. Although credited with each story in the press, it's only when you look at the body of his work over the year that you recognize what a powerful eminence grise he actually was, his influence spanning from city hall, to the Legislature, to the halls of academe to Parliament Hill.
We proudly honour as The Black Rod Newsmaker of 2014 -- Colin Craig, Prairie director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Just look at the headlines:
* RCMP launch criminal investigation of fishy contracts handed out during Sam Katz's term of office.

* Poof! Red River College's head honcho disappears like a thief in the night. Administrators discover the spiffy marble counter tops in her home came from a multi-million dollar reno that taxpayers paid for.

* The Premier of Manitoba, and leader of the New Democratic Party in the province, confessed he lied to the public and misled the Legislature when he denied accepting free perks! Nobody is surprised.

* Residents of Indian reserves finally get to see what their Chiefs pay themselves.  Everybody is surprised!
That's just a sampling of the news stories that came to the public with Colin Craig's name attached.
Quietly beetling away under the radar, filing freedom of information requests to squeeze out information that politicians and administrators thought buried forever, Craig has been a one-man political Opposition, a taxpayers' watchdog, and a human searchlight, exposing waste and corruption. The scary part is that there's so much of it that he made it look easy.
He was so effective at chasing the multitude of scandals at City Hall that he had former councilor Justin Swandel railing against "enemies of the city" who refused to accept the assurances of city administrators that everything was just fine.

Swandel's enemies list has grown since with the addition of unsatisfied auditors and snoopy RCMP investigators, damn their eyes.
Craig wasn't alone calling for an RCMP investigation of the millions of dollars in untendered contracts, the bid-rigging, the favoritism revealed in audits that were fiercely opposed by then Mayor Sam Katz and his city hall cabal. But Craig was among the most persistent, turning over one rock after another, connecting one link in the chain to the last suspicious link.
Even as RCMP get press coverage over their investigation of the renovation of the former post office building into a new city police headquarters, other suspicious decisions under Katz's watch languish.

Why, for example, did city officials award Shindico Realty a contract for $157,000 a year to manage the post office tower? After the Taxpayers Federation started asking questions about the tendering process that looked improper, the city took over the job itself---at less than a third of the cost ($45,000). And why did the administration take 230 days to cancel the Shindico contract when city council ordered it scrubbed within 90 days?
Of course, given the tens of millions of dollars in scandals covered by the press under the polite rubric of "mismanagement", that's a just a drop in the proverbial bucket. But that's how Colin Craig worked his magic. Unraveling a single thread and watching the sweater peel away over months.
Take the case of Stephanie Forsyth, President and CEO of Red River College, undoubtedly one of the most powerful female administrators in the province. She had everything going for her and more in the politically correct milieu of Greg Selinger's Manitoba NDP. A woman, a lesbian, "intent on exploring her aboriginal roots and in making indigineous education and the environment priorities of RRC's growth" (to quote the Winnipeg Free Press), she was untouchable.  Right up to the golf shoes.
In 2011 Colin Craig revealed Forsyth had charged the college for new golf shoes, along with a new travel bag and her driver's licence.  I'm entitled to my entitlements, sniffed Forsyth, who, nonetheless, coughed up for the new shoes. But it set the tone for her rocky tenure at the top.
By the time she got caught with the marble, three years later, (The Black Rod broke the story), it was too late. Colin Craig had the internal emails.
"The simple fact is that marble is in SF's house and a certain quantity came from PGI (the Paterson Global-Foods Institute---the culinary arts school in the Union Bank Tower next to city hall...ed.)  Even  if it was marked for disposal, it shows poor judgement at best, dishonesty at worst.  In order to protect the college and the board, it seems to me, responsibility for this has to be placed with SF," wrote acting president David Rew in a Sept. 5 email.
The biggest feather in Colin Craig's cap had to be the success of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's campaign for a law forcing Indian bands to open their books to reveal the salaries and benefits paid to Chiefs and councilors.  The year 2014 was when the First Nations Transparency Act took effect. Even then, some Indian bands refused to obey the law.
Having announced he is leaving his post to take up new employment in Alberta, Colin Craig leaves behind mighty big shoes for his successor to fill.


Last year we introduced a new year-end award----Bozo of the Year.
For 2014 we announce: it's a tie. The joint recipients are the pollsters and the political pundits, each of whom were so egregiously wrong about the mayoral election that it was impossible to pick one over the other.
Look at the sampling of stories these geniuses generation over the election campaign:
* Judy Wasylycia-Leis has opened up an 18-point  lead over her closest rival in the race for mayor, according to a new poll.
*Mayoral candidates Brian Bowman and Judy Wasylycia-Leis are in a statistical tie at the top of the new Insightrix Research poll done for 68l0 CJOB and Global News...The poll...shows Bowman with the support of 38 % of decided voters while Wasylycia-Leis has slipped slightly to 36 %.
*The margin of error on the poll, conducted between Oct. 7 and Oct. 17, is 3.5 %----meaning the race is too close to call.
*Judy Wasylycia-Leis will have the support of the NDP-union organizing campaign in the coming mayoral election, a fact that gives her a huge edge over her competition.

In less than two weeks, mayoral candidates will reach the finish line, and they're getting their whips for the home stretch... "Clearly, Judy has been the frontrunner from the get-go and she has run a very careful campaign, avoiding any big blunders," local political scientist Paul Thomas said. "I can't see her stepping forward with any bold new announcements. I think she'll coast to the finish line."
After the votes were counted, the results were Bowman, 47.5 percent; Judy Wasylycia-Leis, 25 percent.
Not even close. Not even close to being close. Voters rejected NDP candidate Judy W. by twice the margin they rejected her the last time.
But the fact that none of the pollster or pundits had the slightest clue hasn't hurt their standing in the MSM.  Curtis Brown of Probe Research and the resurrected Paul Thomas, professor emeritus in Political Studies at the University of Manitoba, have become go-to "experts" to be quoted despite their embarrassing track records in analyzing political events.
Go figure.
Until next year ... when we will have an anniversary announcement, coming soon.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sex on the Hill. The who, what, where and when.

NDP M.P. Christine Moore and CBC Radio host Jian Gomeshi have one thing in common. 

They both thought they could deflect blame in a sex scandal by admitting a sexual indiscretion before it was known publicly. 

Both were wrong.

Gomeshi tried to get ahead of a newspaper investigation into allegations of rough sex on his part.  He published a blog post admitting to a predeliction for S&M.  The post contributed to his firing from the CBC.

In the wake of the Gomeshi affair, Moore shifted the national debate on sexual harassment to Parliament Hill as a cesspit of rapacious politicians and staff preying on innocent young girls working in the political sphere. 

When Liberal leader Justin Trudeau championed her never-explained complaint against Liberal M.P. Massimo Pacetti, she managed to go unnamed. But eventually Moore could see the pressure growing for her to shed her anonymity and go public with her allegations. 

So she went on a press tour this week, telling her story in  interviews with The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Huffington post, the National Post, QMI, and CBC, on condition they didn't reveal her identity. Everything went swimmingly as long as the national media repeated her carefully crafted contention that she had sex with Pascetti "without expicit consent." 

But everything went south with the disclosure that she was so reluctant to have sex that night that she provided Pascetti with the condom he used to do the dirty deed. Suddenly the meme of sexual harassment, transmuted into the tawdry one-night-stand it always was. (Tawdry because Pascetti is married, and Moore didn't care.)

Christine Moore was fingered (no double entendre intended) by Frank magazine three weeks ago, and everybody in the Parliamentary press gallery knows she's the one behind the Pascetti complaint. So why keep her name a secret? Given the fact that her secret complaint has ruined Pascetti's career, his reputation, and likely his marriage, it's in the public interest to know who she is and what she says happened.

Moore didn't start out to destroy Pascetti. The story goes that she pigeon-holed Trudeau after the funeral for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was murdered Oct. 22 by a Muslim terrorist storming Parliament Hill. She wanted to tell him in private about the harassment a colleague of hers was getting from a Liberal M.P. (not Pacetti) and to get Trudeau's help to stop it.

(Moore had a special reason for attending the funeral---she had served three years in the army before being elected to Parliament.)

But Moore showed her political naivete when she approached Trudeau. She didn't understand that this wasn't the same as complaining to a teacher about some spurned boy's clumsy attempts at winning back a girlfriend.  Politics is a blood sport. The penalty for imprudence is not detention; it's summary execution.

Trudeau asked the Liberal party whip to meet with the NDP party whip to get more details about the alleged sexual harassment. It was during a meeting of the whips with the women behind the harassment complaint, that Moore chose to support her colleague by mentioning her own seduction by another silver-tongued Liberal M.P. With that, she signed Pascetti's political death warrant.

Trudeau suspended Montreal MP Massimo Pacetti and Newfoundland MP Scott Andrews from the Liberal caucus for "serious personal misconduct", but without telling the public, or them, any of the allegations against them.  NDP leader Tom Mulcair revealed that the complaints against the pair came from two of his members.

But since no formal complaint had been filed either with the police or Parliament, the accusers were not named, and the accused didn't know exactly what they were accused of doing. The two men were in limbo.And eventually press and pundits proclaimed that the situation was unfair, that the men should either be reinstated or their alleged crimes be specified by their accusers.

Moore, seeing the writing on the wall, tried controlling the growing storm with selected leaks.  

She told reporters she and Pascetti were members of a sports league and after an event last March they were having drinks at a pub until 2 a.m. when he invited her to his hotel room residence when attending Parliament for a nightcap. 

Vague enough for you?

Given that Moore is a proud sponsor of the Temiscaming Titans, members of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League, and Pacetti is a former hockey coach, we're guessing it was a hockey game that brought them together.

In the room, Pascetti put the moves on her, she said, but she resolved to leave. Exactly when the condom came out, and on, isn't clear from the stories written by friendly reporters.

One side effect of Moore's press tour, was flushing out some details of the complaint against Scott Andrews which precipitated the focus on the Hill sex scandals.

The story, as related by unnamed sources, is that the NDP member (identified by Frank Magazine as Alexandrine Latendresse) was at some "social event" on Parliament Hill where she met up with the Hill bad boys, Andrews and Pacetti.

The trio left the event to go to Pacetti's office where more wine swilling occurred. Pacetti said nighty-night, and the Liberal and NDP members were alone. There was a connection, or at least, one of them thought so.

The story now fast-forwards to Latendresse's home.  Andrews (yes, he's married, too) followed her home, said the sources quoted in the National Post.

He  "forced his way through her door, pushed her against a wall, groped her and ground his pelvis against her. She ordered him to leave. He did. Afterwards, sources say the woman alleges that Andrews repeatedly verbally harassed her, calling her a "cockteaser."

Seeing that this happened "within the past six months", its possible Trudeau was told that the harassment had continued that long. The indication is that Moore went to Trudeau to get him to tell Andrews to knock it off, but without making a big deal about it.

There's no contention that the complaint against Andrews is payback for a letter he wrote to the Speaker of the House in March, calling for an investigation of possible violations of election spending rules by the NDP.

In August, the Board of Internal Economy found that the NDP broke election law when they used funding intended to cover only the salaries of employees involved in duties related to the work of MP's in Parliament to pay staff who did constituency or partisan work.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stickhandling won't save Selinger this time. Is his end sooner than expected?

So Greg Selinger lied to the public, lied to the Legislature, and lied to the press.
Since when is this news?

Why do you think we call him the dirtiest politician in Manitoba?

Even the most recalcitrant taxpayers caught on to his lying ways when he broke his (useless) word, during the last provincial election campaign, not to raise the provincial sales tax. He also openly broke the law to do it. Then he lied about why he lied, coming up with a new excuse for why he had to raise the PST as quickly as an old one was disproved.

Now he's admitted another lie, but only because he got caught dead to rights by CJOB.

In 2012 when it was revealed that NDP MLA's were gorging themselves on free tickets from public utilities and a raft of private groups to see the Winnipeg Jets, Selinger pretended to care.

He told the MLA's to pay back the cost of their freebies, to apologize to the people, and to promise not to do it again.  He failed to mention that he was among those at the trough for free tickets.

(Believe it or not, The Black Rod believed Selinger was  lying even back then:
MONDAY, MAY 14, 2012
Premier Greg Selinger isn't talking about his free Jets ticket
When Premier Greg Selinger released a list of 13 NDP MLA's who got free tickets to Winnipeg Jets games he forgot one name -- his own.)

On Wednesday, he remembered that, oh yeah, he did watch a Jets game on a free ticket. But, he reasoned lamely, it wasn't really free because five weeks later he made a charitable donation to a group that had nothing to do with the Jets, the arena, or, well, hockey in any way, shape or form. See, all cleared up.

Uh. Nope.

This time everybody knows he's lying. They know it because the news outlets are citing Hansard from May 9, 2012, when Selinger was asked specifically about taking free tickets:

 Mr. McFadyen: And so I just - I need to ask the Premier, and I think he knows I need to ask the question: I know he had the opportunity to attend games, did he have any tickets provided to him that he didn't pay for personally?
Mr. Selinger: No.

That was a lie, we know now.  Selinger attended a game on Dec. 29, 2011, on a "ticket provided to him that he didn't pay for personally." 

Selinger was the guest of Ken Cheveldayoff, a Saskatchewan MLA and, it just so happens, the brother of Kevin Cheveldayoff, executive vice president and general manager of the Winnipeg Jets.

Now, do you think that Kevin is so chintzy that he's not going to comp his own brother?  He's going to make his brother buy a couple of tickets on the VISA, but let him sit in the MTS Centre's private box so those pricey tix go to waste?  Puh-lease.

Ken got a couple of freebies and, God knows why, took Greg Selinger with him.  Selinger says he offered to pay for his ticket, but Ken C. said to forget it.  Of course he did. What? He's going to get comped tickets, then sell one of them for beer money?

Selinger says Ken told him to make a donation somewhere instead of paying for the Jets ticket.  And that's what Selinger said he did -- five weeks later he "made a donation of $300 to Friends Housing Inc."

Here's the problem -- Friends Housing has no connection with the Winnipeg Jets! Or Ken Cheveldayoff. 

The only way Selinger could pay back the cost of his free ticket was to write a cheque to either of those two,  the team that sells the tickets or the person who provided him with the ticket.

Friends Housing is a third party with no relationship to either. So any donation to them does not benefit the Jets, which is the purpose of selling tickets in the first place, or to Ken C., who could legitimately claim ownership of the ticket used by Selinger. 

If Selinger had made a donation in Ken's name to a charity and sent Ken the receipt, then maybe he would be off the hook, provided, of course, that the cost sitting in the MTS Centre private box is $300 and that's a true price.

Greg Selinger made a personal donation to a non-profit organization. It was not repayment for a free ticket provided to him; the person who took him to the Jets game didn't even know about the donation.

The more serious offence is Selinger's statement intended deliberately to mislead the Legislature.

That is contempt.

Following the Throne Speech today, Oppositon Leader Brian Pallister must make a motion to hold Selinger in contempt of the Legislature for his lie. 

He has to do it Thursday, because previous rulings in the Legislature on the issue say such a matter must be raised "at the earliest opportunity" or be dismissed.

If the Speaker rejects the motion (to refer the contempt to the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs), the Opposition could ask the House to overrule him. He may count on the votes of the five rebel NDP MLA's who have challenged Selinger's leadership.  He may flush out others in the NDP caucus who support the rebels, and who would have a way to open up an internal campaign to replace Selinger as leader. Can you say Christine Melnick, who was thrown under the bus by Selinger for lying to the Legislature?

And speaking of the rebellion against Selinger, who was it that leaked the Jets story?  Of the Gang of Five, three (Stan Struthers, Andrew Swan and Erin Selby) were among the 13 shamed for taking free tickets to Jets games.
We're betting on Swan who got no sugar from Selinger during the ticket scandal in '12. Revenge is sweet.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Brian Bowman as Mayor. Day One -- Promise Number One. Broken.

Brian Bowman has set a new record for the shortest time spent by a mayor before breaking a major election promise.

Even disgraced Mayor Sam Katz waited a few months before revealing to voters that they had been suckered by his stance while campaigning against Judy Wasylycia-Leis against raising propery taxes.

Bowman on Tuesday hadn't even been sitting in the Mayor's chair long enough to warm it up before he announced that his vaunted promise to let city council elect the members of the powerful executive policy committee was null and void.

And, like a weasley lawyer, he came prepared with an excuse for why he couldn't do the very thing he had been telling voters for months that he would do.  He blamed somebody else. Actually, he blamed pretty much everybody else except himself.

He blamed the law. It had to be amended by the provincial government, and he would get right on that. He blamed the city administration which broke the news to him that a council election was forbidden.  And he blamed his advisors for giving him bad advice.

What he failed to do was say what the City of Winnipeg Charter actually reads:

Mayor's appointments
59(1) At the first meeting of council after a general election, the mayor must appoint
(a) a deputy mayor;
(b) an acting deputy mayor;
(c) the chairpersons for the standing committees of council, if such committees are established by council; and
(d) members of the executive policy committee of council under clause 61(1)(c), if any.
Executive policy committee established
61(1) There shall be an executive policy committee of council composed of
(a) the mayor, who is the chairperson of the committee;
(b) the chairpersons of the standing committees of council, if any such committees are established; and
(c) any other members of council appointed by the mayor.

Hmmm. Nothing that would ban the mayor from holding a vote to gauge the will of council over who should sit on EPC before he appointed the members.

So much for 'change' and 'can do' spirit at City Hall.  Instead of showing bold leadership, Bowman showed the limited mindset of a lawyer who is looking for reasons why he can't do what he promised.

Worse, is how easily the city administration made him their puppet.  This is the same administration that's rejected all criticism over the egregious mismanagement, if not actual corruption, behind the series of city construction projects that plagued Katz's last years in office. Bowman showed how easily he can be controlled.

Bowman's first act as mayor was to prove his ignorance of how the city works. 

If he continues on this path, he will quickly grow frustrated, like all Gen Xers who don't get their way.  Then he'll quit because 'this isn't fun anymore.'

Memo to Robert Falcon Oullette:  keep your election signs. You may be dusting them off for a byelection in a few years.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Explaining the worst political party revolt ever, in one word.

Let's play charades.  We'll start.
Four  words.

Washing hands.
Wringing.  Washing.  Soap.

Dirty hands.


Okay, next word.

Stripper pole.



No.  Start over.  Vote.  Voting.  Ballot.

Oh, Pole-itics.

Next word.



Everywhere?   Map.



Dirtiest Politician in Manitoba!


Do we win?  

No. With Greg Selinger, everbody loses.

In less than a week,  the Dipper Follies has become the best show in town, with everyone glued to their radio and television sets for the latest twist and turn.

What melodrama!   Five dissident MLA's.  Careers on the line. Stare-downs. Ultimatums. Veilled threats of retaliation.  A resignation expected yesterday, today, tomorrow.

Like Scandal, the TV show? No, more like NDP Friends, with Stan Struthers in the Joey role.
The dissidents are called the Rebel Five in the press. It sounds like a rockabilly band.  Suddenly, in the eyes of the pundits, the gang-of-five are the hip kids in school;  the last time that happened to them was, like, never.
For those who tuned in late, here's a recap what the foofarah is all about:  five NDP cabinet ministers say that NDP Premier Greg Selinger doesn't listen to them.  He's mean and they'll never, ever get back together.  (Apologies to Taylor Swift.)

What?  You thought there was more?

For all the strum-und-drang in the news, that's it?

It almost makes you think ... this whole thing ... is a.. 


We predicted three years ago, almost to the day, that Greg Selinger would be gone before the next provincial election:

By the next election, Greg Selinger will be 64. Unless he intends to be a Premier collecting an old-age pension, he will hand off the leadership of the NDP by then to a new generation and the NDP can present themselves as a renewed and refreshed government for reelection.

The playbook laid it out:  the leader resigns, a leadership convention is held just before an election is called, Kevin Chief becomes the new face of a fresh, shiny new party facing down a tired, old Opposition lead by a retread has-been.

But that was before the vaunted NDP machine imploded:
- A major broken promise in raising the provincial sales tax to 8 percent. 
- A string of billion-dollar deficits.  
- The bottom of the barrel in education and health measures. 
- An openly racist cabinet member applauded by his caucus. 
- Internal polls show the party is in "annihilation" territory.

An orderly transition of power is no longer viable. According to the "sources" feeding the Winnipeg Free Press,  that public is fed up with the NDP. So how to achieve the same goal, but in a different way?
Step One.  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. 

Run against your own party.  Or, at least make it appear you're running against your own party.

Have you noticed that the Rebel Five are hardly rebelling against anything? They quit their cabinet posts, but plan to stay in the NDP caucus.  They will support the NDP in the Legislature, vote for NDP bills, and they plan to run as NDP candidates in the next election.

They're not even against the increase in PST.  

Struthers, as Finance Minister, happily introduced it and defended it, they all voted for it.  Their only beef, as we understand it, is that they didn't get to build a case for raising the tax before imposing it.  In other words, if you, the hoi polloi, only understood why the NDP raised the PST, you would support them.

They also hint that mean Mr. Selinger won't listen to them. 

About what? They won't say.

Step Two.  So, essentially, their "rebellion" is a PR campaign to allegedly pit them against Greg Selinger, to, ahem, "force" Selinger to quit so that the party can elect a new leader.  A "new" leader who supported the same Selinger policies for the past five years.  In a nutshell, a new face on the same policies.

This is straight out of the Saul Alinsky playbook.  We explained how that works here:

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

The "rebels" have identified Greg Selinger as the target. You don't want the voters taking out their frustration on the entire NDP. With the Rebel Five, acting as voter surrogates, attacking Selinger, they can focus public antagonism on him, and bleed off that antagonism when he resigns (which he will).

Step ThreeA blood sacrifice is the only thing that will satisfy the mob.

Selinger is a good soldier. He will fall on his sword for the good of the cause.  He knows somebody has to take the hit to mollify the angry public. He will jump on the grenade if that's what it takes.

Selinger was behind the vile, gutter politics of the 2011 campaign. Only hard-core NDP voters aren't repulsed by him today. He's the perfect villain for an internal "revolt."  Semper Fi.

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