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, November 12, 2005

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 Governor General, Michaelle Jean is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, a commander who "toasted independence by revolution for Quebec and whose husband loves those terrorists."

Showing the same bravery that carried veterans through the battlefields of Canada's wars, Laverty and his group stood to be counted. They stood for those who died fighting for freedom, who would have been appalled to see someone who supported the break-up of Canada by drinking a toast with a Quebec terrorist to his goal, mock them by her belated "remembrance" of their sacrifice.

* CTV's cameras were apparently in the best position to cover the silent protest.

CBC's Diana Swain made only a passing reference to it in her newscast with a brief shot of them turning their backs to the GG.

The Saturday Free Press completely ignored it and the Winnipeg Sun ran only a short wire brief.

CTV and CTV Newsnet carried full stories, but how they differed is a story in itself.

* CTV Newsnet host Jennifer Ward introduced a story about the Michaelle Jean protestors, then interviewed Ottawa reporter Roger Smith. With Ward acting as his Greek Chorus, Smith did his best to discredit the group.

It was a tiny bunch, only about 20, he said. Others at the wreath-laying said it wasn't the place for a protest. The Governor General herself was oblivous to them.

"It was small incident. Nobody noticed."
said Ward, supportively.
Michaelle Jean denies she's a separatist and, if at some point she had some sympathy for separtists, said Smith, well, people are allowed to change.
"That they are," piped in Ward.

Smith had a final zinger. The protestors were a bunch of hypocrites. They said they were exercising their right of free speech, but when a teenager said their protest was inappropriate, the group shouted him down. And if that wasn't enough, one of them ripped the poppy right off the boy's chest.

* That version of the story, broadcast to Newsnet viewers, might have stood up, except that a fuller story was shown on CTV National News with anchor Lloyd Robertson.

This version included a video clip of the infamous toast, ending any speculation about whether Michaelle Jean did toast the success of separatism in Canada. And it had a complete sequence of the confrontation between the teenager and the veterans, one which exposed Smith's slanted version for the cheap shot that it was.

After showing the veterans turn their backs on the GG, CTV went looking for someone to criticize them. They found a couple of people who used judicious language to say they had come to honour the veterans, full stop. Finally, the reporter found an 18-year-old boy who said the veterans' protest was "inappropriate."

The vets found this insulting, and said so to the boy. By what right did this snot-nosed kid have to judge the veterans? What war had he fought in? When did he risk his life for the right to free speech?
The kid was shocked that these old people would be upset at being lectured by him. (What's their beef, anyway?).

Then, with a move as fast as one of Muhammed Ali's jab, one of the women in the group snatched the poppy right off the kid's chest.

Bravo, shouted The Black Rod.

The kid had forfeited the right to wear the poppy. He may have tossed a few coins in a box, but he obviously had no concept of what the veterans of Canada did for this nation and how their right to speak trumped his vast 18 years of knowledge of world and national affairs.

His disrespect to veterans earned him a few minutes on national TV. No doubt good training to join CTV's news team when he grows up. Then he'll be on national TV everyday, fully qualified to replace Jennifer Ward and Roger Smith who failed to remember there is good reason for veterans to reject Mme. Jean as Canada's Commander-in-chief.

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