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:

Friday, November 25, 2005

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 always under a full moon?

Now the NDP are building a super-courtroom for another mega-trial of gang members. When the Conservative government constructed a special facility for gang trials, the NDP were relentless in calling it a waste of money. After they came into office, they gleefully mothballed the...uh...super-courthouse. Six years later, they've proven their incompetence, once again.

They've shown that they sacrificed $3 million (the cost of the courthouse) for their own ideological purposes. Now, in a classic example of New Democonomics, they will be spending at least $100,000 of taxpayers' money to recreate something that existed before they scrapped it.

Believe it or not, Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh says they can't use the courtroom designed to hold 35 gang members because a judge recommended that no more than 10 suspects be tried together. Hey, Minister, ten is less than 35.

And, Mike McIntyre, the Free Press' crime reporter, should stop relying on NDP hacks for the background to his stories. Contrary to McIntyre's declaration that the trial of the Manitoba Warriors intended for the special courthouse "collapsed", the prosecution was the biggest success in the history of gang-fighting in the province. All 35 accused were convicted of some gang-related crime or else became co-operating witnesses for the Crown.

When you're talking about failed prosecutions, Mike, your best examples are the disasters launched by the NDP. And don't get your hopes up, just yet.

The NDP is trying to raise their crime-fighting profile with a mega-trial of members of the Indian Posse street gang who are charged with attacking their former leader in prison. That's right...they're going after gang members already in jail. How's that for making the streets safer?

Oh, and just to balance things out, they've issued suspensions to some sheriff's officers who tried to control some gang members being driven to Headingley.

The NDP are sending a clear message to gangs---we're a bunch of bumblers.

And the gangs have heard it loud and clear.

That's why they weren't a bit worried about shooting up a house within a block of the Justice Minister's house a couple of weeks ago.

It was the day of the big snow storm. The streets were impassable, except for bus routes, and wouldn't you know it, one of those bus routes runs along Cathedral Avenue. In broad daylight, shortly before noon, three men with guns began shooting at a house in the 100 block of Cathedral. Was it a run-by shooting, or did they think their target was trapped in the house by the snow and that there was a good chance he would catch a bullet?

After peppering the house with shots, the men ran to their getaway vehicle, an SUV, and took off down the only plowed street in the neighbourhood. They may have driven right by Minister Huff 'n Puff's house.

A garbled story in the Winnipeg Sun had the next page of this story. Four men were arrested the next day or two after a chase near Polo Park. The story was so poorly written it was unclear where the chase started, how long it lasted, and whether all four were arrested in the Polo Park shopping centre. There was no follow up story, and the police issued no news release about the arrests.

The Black Rod, however, suspects the shooting was related to the member of the Zigzag Crew spotted driving his motorcycle down the back lane of the 100 block of Cathedral in the days before the shooting. Given the gang's propensity for internecine battles, this may be simply a family matter and not connected to the gang war that's been waged all summer under the radar of the local news media.

On the other hand, the shooting Wednesday morning into a house on Boyd Avenue fits the pattern of the on-going gang war. Someone fired into the bedroom window of a house in the 200 block at 5 a.m.

Do you think shooting into a bedroom in the middle of the night is intened to kill someone? Obviously the NDP's gang-fighting message needs a little fine tuning.


The Tory Opposition, which should be holding the NDP to account, remains in disarray with a lameduck leader at the helm.

Maybe that's the challenge that's attracting the attention of federal Conservative MP Brian Pallister, who's making his interest in replacing Stuart Murray more apparent every passing day.

Even as a federal election call is only days away, Pallister is polling Conservatives on his chances to be leader. The problem is, his timing couldn't be worse.

If a federal election is called next week,as expected, Pallister will be running for re-election for the Conservatives. He will be telling voters that he wants their support for another five years as their Member of Parliament. To run for leader of the provincial Tories, he would have to abandon his federal constituents--- and the provincial party has enough abandonment in its ranks.

John Loewen abandoned his provincial constituents, his party colleagues and the thousands of Crocus Investors who thought they could count on him. Loewen woke up one day and decided his values were more in tune with the federal party that has been stealing millions and wasting billions.

And Hugh McFadyen (note: the Y follows the D, it's not McFayden) is a true successor to Loewen. He abandoned the Conservative voters in Winnipeg South, costing the federal Tory Party six months of preparation time for the coming election. For that vision, he's being touted as a leader of the provincial party.

Pallister's dilemma is that the provincial Conservatives need a true leader, and someone they can trust.

Pallister has many options, and few at the same time.

* He can run federally and stay as an MP whether the Conservatives win power or not.
* He can run, win, then quit in a few months to run provincially.
* He can quit now, on the eve of an election, forcing a scramble to find a new candidate in his riding. Can someone say Hugh McFadyen?

Timing is everything, but it's not kind to the Conservatives, federal and provincial.

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