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:

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Year End Awards and New Year's Greetings

As tradition has it, the year-end is the time to proclaim our Newsmaker of the Year and Story of the Year.

The Black Rod's editorial board was unanimous this year in choosing Manitoba Auditor General Jon Singleton, and his report into the Crocus Investment Fund.

No story had as much impact on Manitobans as the collapse of the Crocus Fund, a house of cards that toppled as soon as Singleton's report unveilled the unvarnished facts.

And how the mighty have fallen.

From a day when a visit from Crocus representatives could intimidate legislators and still criticism in the press to receivership, a class action lawsuit, and an RCMP investigation.

* Tens of thousands of Crocus investors watched the value of their retirement savings evaporate.

* The credibility of the NDP government was shredded.

* The leader of the Opposition admitted he backed down under Crocus pressure, and before year's end, he quit.

* Waves from the collapse extended to the Workers Compensation Board where some of the same players as at the Crocus Fund ( Wally Fox-Decent, Sherman Kreiner) came under fire.

* The Winnipeg Sun and the Winnipeg Free Press called for a public inquiry.

* Former NDP Premier Ed Schreyer added his voice calling for a public inquiry.


The Black Rod wishes a HAPPY NEW YEAR to....

* Tom Brodbeck who deserves an award for the best journalism in the province.

* Richard Cloutier, who took over from Charles Adler and made morning talk radio listenable again.

* Bob Cox, who is still on probation with us. The new editor at the Winnipeg Free Press hasn't made any noticeable changes yet. And there are as many typos as ever (they even called him Box Cox once). And shuffling beats is not the same as getting rid of deadwood which is the first step in bringing back readers who have been deserting the paper in droves . Maybe next year...

* Bruce Owen and Mike McIntyre, who were generous with their questions to The Black Rod about the Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada connections to a continent wide ephedrine smuggling ring, but who were stingy with credit when it came to their multi-part story about crystal meth.

* Paul Egan, who scalped one of our Crocus stories without attribution, and left before blog became a common word in the Free Press.

* John Gleeson, editor of The Winnipeg Sun, who was the first to mention The Black Rod in print. Unfortunately he got the name wrong, misquoted us and then wouldn't make a correction. Sigh.

* Sam Katz, who narrowly escaped having to resign after botching his "war on mosquitoes". He backed Taz Stuart's refusal to fog for mosquitoes until it was too late and people began showing up with West Nile Fever. Nobody died, but the number of people who got West Nile in Winnipeg is still Top Secret.

* Rod Bruinooge, the Chumbawamba of the Conservative Party. You know.... I get knocked down But I get up again You're never going to keep me down I get knocked down But I get up again...

* Peter Kent, who called their bluffs.

* Bruce Vallance, who had the courage to stand up for Canada against FLQ sympathizers in the highest political office in the country.

* Bernie Bellan, who got the last laugh.

* "A. Journalist", who wrote us lamenting we were too tough on the broadcast media which, he said, is constrainted by "rules" from doing the same reporting we do. He said he wanted to continue a dialogue with us, but has since disappeared.

* Kate McMillan of Small Dead Animals who inspired our work all year.

* Brad Pitt


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