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The Peter Kent Challenge - Free Press provides exhibit A

When veteran broadcaster Peter Kent announced he was running for office as a candidate for the Conservative Party, he threw down a gauntlet. Not for his Liberal Party challenger in the Toronto riding of St. Paul's.

For journalism schools.

Kent, the former host of CBC's national newscast and later Global TV's national newscast, said he sees political bias creeping into television and radio reporting and certainly in the news pages. And that bias favours the Liberals at the expense of the Conservatives every time.

He challenged j-schools to do an election study to examine his allegations. Of course he recognized that most journalism school teachers are small L liberals, themselves. Maybe that's why we haven't heard which schools took up his challenge. If any.

But The Black Rod is up for it and we'll be the guide to any students from Red River or the University of Winnipeg who are game for The Peter Kent Challenge.

With the election announced on Monday, we didn&…

Election choice: Integrity or the next revolution?

Canadians are so polite.

Even our revolutions are so bloodless that hardly anyone notices.

The last time the public rose up, 12 years ago, it destroyed the ruling party without a shot being fired. Tired of the sleaze and arrogance of Brian Mulroney's government, voters crushed the Progressive Conservatives at the polls, reducing them to a rump of a rump of only two seats, and sending a clear message: no more.

The scattering of the Conservative Party to the winds led to the formation of the aptly named Reform Party by former Tories disgusted at Mulroney and his followers.

And the Mulroney Conservatives were replaced by the Liberal Party of Canada, which has shown itself to be --- a party of corruption and even greater arrogance.
Worse, the Liberals now insist they can never be replaced. Their sense of entitlement, where even a stick of chewing gum has to be charged to the taxpayers, exceeds all reason.

But their biggest crime is having convinced voters that everyone is as corrupt…

Libranos deny being organized crime

For the best example of why the blogosphere has become the cutting edge of news, a reader has only to turn to the stories carried by the old media about the threat by the Liberal Party of Canada to sue the Conservatives for linking them to organized crime.

* "Grits fire legal warning shot toward Harper" read the headline in the Winnipeg Free Press to the CP story by Alexander Panetta.

* "Liberals threaten suit over Harper's rhetoric" was the headline for the Globe and Mail story by Brian Laghi and Campbell Clark, "with a report from Michael Valpy", whatever that means.

* "Harper links organized crime, Grits" was the Free Press headline to the previous day's story by Anne Dawson from Canwest News Service.

Variations of the same headline preceeded the story on radio and television newscasts. What's sad, and disturbing, is that all of these mainstream reporters, and pundits in their wake, have it wrong.

They have completely missed the story,…

Gangs shoot up houses while Huff 'n Puff shoots blanks

Okay...we tried. But what can we do?

We did our best to be nice about the NDP.

The Black Rod was the only one in town to recognize that the NDP's new gang initiative was based on a successful Quebec model. We gave them a pat on the back for adopting a plan that had worked successfully elsewhere, even though we suspect that the judges in Manitoba who have done their best to devalue life will undermine the plan.

We gingerly commended the NDP for abandoning their five-year-old "holistic" gang-fighting program which has only resulted in more gangs, more violent gangs, and, now, innocent people becoming victims of those gangs. The NDP still continues to subsidize the crack trade by supplying free crack kits, but at least they haven't fallen for the gangs-speak-for-the-people-on-the-streets line that was being peddled when they were in the Opposition.

But what can we say about the latest NDP boondoggle? Last week we blamed the full moon for making people crazy. Is the NDP …

A new brand for Ed Schreyer and one for Manitoba

There was a full moon this week which is why, we conclude, people are acting so crazy.

Case in point:

Ed Schreyer, the socialist premier of Manitoba from 1969 to 1977, came out foursquare against the NDP plan to freeze natural gas rates this winter, the most socialist program in the NDP's term of office since coming to power in 1999.

" the most retrograde step the government could possibly take. It's so wrong it's perverse."

Peter Holle, president of the Frontier Centre, a private think tank most people would assume promotes free enterprise, opposes the NDP's natural gas program because it's not socialist enough.

And Heather Stefanson, Progressive Conservative Health Critic, starts talking like her socialist counterpart when she declares the government has to do more to fight creeping Americanization of the health care system.

The NDP wants to prevent home heating costs going sky high this winter. It's promised to pass a law that would freeze natural g…

The spicy gumbo of Tory contenders

It looks like the Manitoba Tory leadership race is swiftly turning into a spicy gumbo of contenders, even if the stew doesn't include Stu Murray.

It seems we were hasty in thinking that MP Brian Pallister wouldn't give up the bright lights of big city Ottawa for the simple pleasures of his home province.

Pallister, it seems, is not being coy when he's not denying an interest in running for Stuart Murray's job. He just wants reassurance he's not taking a leap off the same cliff.

We hear he is gathering a list of 500 names as an endorsement. 500! Holey moley.

But there's the matter of a federal election and that's playing havoc with Pallister's plans. We hope Pallister also understands the optics of his entry into the race.

If he drops out of federal politics before the election, he looks like a quitter. ( The Tory party already has one running for office in Hugh McFadyen.) If he runs and the federal Conservative Party comes up short again, he'll b…

NDP pins its hopes on Quebec's gang strategy

The caller wanted to talk about the stabbing in the park.

Some chitchat followed, nothing more than was said in every home and public place where the attack on a jogger in Assiniboine Park was discussed.

Then the caller dropped the bomb. He'd been talking to someone in the social services field.

"It has all the hallmarks of a gang initiation," he said.

Damn. Just as we were about to put out a story giving the NDP credit for their gang initiative...

Oh well, let's start with the good.

After ignoring the gang problem until an innocent bystander got killed, the NDP did something other than wait for the federal government to do something.

Except that at first glance, it appeared like a lot of nothing. More police, more prosecutors, more "crime prevention" programs. Blah blah blah. Been there. Done that. We guess the city's news media thought the same thing, because the coverage of the new gang initiative was lukewarm.

But we decided to dig a little deepe…

CTV has short memory on Nov. 11th

Remembrance Day is a day when we're proud of our veterans.

This Remembrance Day, however, became a day to be ashamed of our news media, particularly CTV Newsnet, host Jennifer Ward and Ottawa reporter Roger Smith.

At issue was the silent protest conducted by a group of veterans against Governor General Michaelle Jean. The group turned their backs on her twice, once when she arrived, then again when she placed a wreath.

Veteran Frank Laverty, 80, said the protest was against letting someone who has been sympathetic to the FLQ, the terrorist group spearheading the Quebec separatist movement in the Sixties, take part in such a solemn event.

"We reject Governor General Michaelle Jean's participation. She's associated with the FLQ terrorist criminals who murdered, kidnapped and wounded innocent Canadians in an effort to incite a violent revolution in Quebec."

There's no doubt there. See our previous stories in The Black Rod here and here.

Laverty noted that as Gov…

PC Backroom yet to decide Tory draft pick

This was a bad week for men at the top.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost their head coach. And the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party lost its leader.

Their misfortunes made great fodder for pundits, but has anyone noticed that both men were shown the door for the same reason?

Their teams wanted leaders with fire in their bellies. A fighting spirit. A passion that inspires the team into battle. What they got was cold porridge.

When the Blue Bombers lost 41-1 to the B.C. Lions, Jim Daley said: "We did not represent ourselves as coaches and players and our city and our province very well." Well... duh.

When John Loewen betrayed his Tory colleagues by joining the federal Liberals, Stuart Murray wished him well and (figuratively) passed around an envelope to buy him a nice going away present.

Now both men are watching the press debate their successors.

In the case of the Tories, reporters are just parroting each other without applying any thought or analysis. Allen Mills was only to…

Two Free Press columnists, one right, one wrong

The dramatic collapse of Stuart Murray's leadership of the Manitoba PC's stimulated both daily newspapers, through their editorials and columnists, to discuss Manitoba politics with more urgency than usual.
Perhaps it is because they see the writing on the wall; it is so obvious that this province is beyond dysfunctional and that change is on the horizon, that the Free Press admitted it even while ignoring the warning signs in their own pages.

Columnist Allen Mills places much of the blame on the state of the local media.

His column, entitled 'President Doer' getting free ride as provincial politics whither away', is a far ranging analysis that went far beyond the usual "Doer strong, opposition weak" throw-away. By picking apart the conditions of what he calls "perfect political calm" (you know, the opposite of perfect storm), Prof. Mills explained how the media is played like a fiddle, as part of the formula that allows the NDP to rule Winnipeg li…

L'AFFAIR ALCOCK SOURS CBC VIEWERS

We're betting it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Gomery report was just released, pointing out how corrupt and sleazy the Liberal Party of Canada was.

You know you have to respond, so Paul Martin assigns the job to three trusted people--the most obnoxious MP on Parliament Hill and two Tory turncoats.

Oh, and, according to party insiders, MPs are told to be contrite.

Except that somebody forgot that that word doesn't exist in the Liberal Party dictionary, as Manitoba MP Reg Alcock (see Parliament Hill above) proved by his belligerent interview with Krista Erickson on CBC TV's Canada Now.

Alcock was every inch the bully as he tried to run roughshod over the CBC Winnipeg host to push the official Liberal line, from the very get-go. He was by turns antagonistic, condescending ("kiddo") -- and the ever favorite--obnoxious, as Erickson asked him tough but fair questions.

He was reduced to lecturing her that even asking these questions was parroting the Conservative …

Will This Romance be a Schur Success?

Strike up the band and cue the choir. Winnipeg empresario Danny Schur is taking his show on the road.

Saskatoon's Persephone Theatre has picked Schur's musical Strike to open its 2006 season.

Artistic Director Tibor Feheregyhazi went ga-ga over the play and wanted to be first to snap up the rights.

This is a big feather in Danny's cap but only step one in his big plan to fill the void left by the demise of Canada's numero uno in the world of musical theatre, Garth Drabinsky, whose Livent productions of Phantom of the Opera and Ragtime were Broadway staples in he Nineties.

Schur risked everything and lost a small fortune putting on the musical about the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. He fought tooth-and-nail to get his show into the Rainbow Stage venue this spring, only to see the worst weather in history dilute his audiences despite rave reviews. But Strike still managed to be a bigger hit than the dead dog of a play Rainbow Stage staged on their own, and his dream staye…

John Harvard, where were you in 2002

Canadians love to feel superior to Americans.

When terrorists attacked New York in 2001 and killed thousands of innocents, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien muttered that they got what was coming to them because they're so rich.

When the United States was convulsed by the Watergate scandal, Canadian intellectuals sniffed in satisfaction at watching a right-wing President brought down for covering up a break-in ordered by his re-election team. It couldn't happen here, they said. We have Question Period. We hold our governments accountable.

So superior. So spectacularly wrong.

The one time the Canadian system was tested, it failed---every test.

It could happen here.
It did happen here.
And they got away with it.

The Liberal Party is chortling in relief and triumph today. They got away with it.

John Gomery released his report and said the people to blame for stealing a few hundred million dollars of taxpayers money during Adscam were the Liberal Party, the other Liberal Party, the par…

Free Press says "goodbye" to columnist, "get lost" to union. And get ready for Madame Mayor??

Imagine our surprise to learn that the Winnipeg Free Press had a new editor and we didn't know a thing about it.

Right there in Monday's Business Calender was the notice for a welcoming reception for the paper's new man, Box Cox.

Where did he come from?

Reading further down, we saw he was obviously sharing the job with the former editor, Bob Cox, who is sitting on a forum on Red River College later in the week.
We hope page editor Steve Pona will offer a clarification soon on how Box and Bob intend to share duties.

The paper is big on notifications lately.

The deathly silent indifference which greeted the departure of Charles Adler from the editorial pages of the Winnipeg Free Press was so overwhelming, that 10 days after the last dreadful column appeared, editor Bob Cox was compelled to take note of the absence in a small note to the readers.

To convince the readers that they were actually missing Chuckster's "always engaging and provocative columns" the pas…