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.

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:

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Cleaning up our Inbox; So long to Frank Landry

[originally posted July 20, 2005]

The city is still buzzing about that unprecedented storm we experienced this weekend.
While it was spectacular at ground level, imagine if you were flying through it.

Well, the passengers on an Air Canada flight have one hell of a story to tell about just that.

As the lightning was lighting up the sky over Winnipeg and the gale force winds were knocking trees over like ten pins, the airport was diverting all incoming traffic to Grand Forks. All except one.

That unlucky plane heard the diversion message, but radioed back that she was coming in. There had been a loud crash on that plane and they didn't know what caused it.

The plane was being knocked about the sky by the strong winds and the passengers were alternately crying hysterically and praying. The flight was given clearance to land, and it did.

Then it sat on the tarmack for three hours until airport crews felt it was safe enough to reach the aircraft.
We learned this week just how much City Entomologist Taz Stuart has been conning the citizens of Winnipeg and the city councillors, who are supposed to be his bosses.

The Black Rod has reported that Taz had no intention of fogging for mosquitoes no matter how bad the infestation got. But even we couldn't have guessed that he would go as far as lying to the public and to council.

Only now have we discovered that mosquito counts in West Kildonan in June were in the 500 per trap per night range. Taz had been peddling a figure of about 100. On T.V. he said, without shame, that he was just averaging the city figure and anyway, mosquito counts don't count in his mystical method of determining when to fog (because the answer is always NEVER, SUCKER...ed.)

Now that the province has ordered mass fogging because of the extreme risk of West Nile, can someone explain why Taz has been allowed to play God and determine that the people of West Kildonan should be put at greater risk than the rest of the city just because he refuses to put the health of human beings ahead of the health of mosquitoes?

And who is going to ask whether Taz's biggest fan, Mayor Sam Katz, knew that Taz was lying to the public about the mosquito counts?

Oops, how can anyone? Once again, the mayor is not in town when there is a major problem.

Last year asbestos laden smoke wafted throughout the Disraeli Freeway and Point Douglas neighborhoods, businesses on Higgins were told the city would not accept any claims for loss of business due to the street being closed down for weeks, and Sluggin' Sam ? He was in Boston when the Cold Storage building burned down.

Then when the radical fringe and pack journalists tried to inflame the tensions between the native community and the police after Matthew Dumas was shot while being apprehended, Katz was in the Philippines (February 2005).

Anyway, this time he is rumoured to be in Phoenix where a heat wave has killed 11 people but where West Nile is nowhere to be found.
Perhaps Katz is just suffering from bad advice since his former campaign manager Hugh McFadyen left his side to take the nomination to run for the Conservatives in Winnipeg South in the next federal election. In the meantime, however, McFadyen has been hired by the provincial Conservatives, to beef up their urban policy and whisper sweet nothings in Stu Murray's ear.

People who have dealt with Hugh say he's a nice guy. The only bad mark on his record is the fact he was the local organizer for federal Tory leadership contender Belinda Stronach.

Oh well, he's not the only one she seduced and abandoned.The local Tories just finished parting ways with communications director Tish Best and two researchers, one an Alberta import, the other a local blogger who at least was tuned into the 21st Century. We have learned Best is being replaced by an expat Manitoban who is beating it back from Ottawa after surviving the Harper experience.

It appears that the common denominator is that many of the new deckhands worked for Gary Filmon's team and their experience with a winner is hoped to rub off on the Murray regime.
And speaking of changeover, The Black Rod says Buh Bye to Frank Landry, the Winnipeg Sun's legislature reporter.

He's headed for Alberta, and, we hope, a different beat, because his tenure at the Legislature was distinctly less than stellar.

Day after day, his colleague Tom Brodbeck kept scooping him on important Legislature stories, and, given the rare chance to redeem himself this past session, Frank chose to imitate Perdita Felicien at the Olympics. Who can forget her spectacular wipeout in the opening seconds of her debut race?

With the starting gun still ringing in everyone's ears, Canada's favoured hurdler went crashing into the very first frame, reeled like a panhandler on Main Street into the innocent runner to her right sending her flying, and landed flat on her perdita staring up at the receding rumps of the rest of the field which had left her far, far behind.And so it was with Frank Landry.

After the first couple of weeks of the spring session of the Legislature, Frank decided it was time to write a column disparaging the Tory Opposition, pointing out how ineffective they were, slagging them for rehashing tired old issues like the Crocus Fund, and jeering that they had wasted their time on inconsequential matters like some long-forgotten loan from a Quebec financial institution to the same Crocus Fund.

Except that that that long-forgotten loan from the Quebec Solidarity Fund turned out to the be centre piece of the largest financial scandal in recent Manitoba history and may still turn out to be the tipping point for the future of the NDP government in Manitoba.

Oops. Missed it by just that much.
So long Frank, we hardly knew ye.

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