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.

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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: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Post-Election Musings

It was funny to watch Winnipeg's four television stations fall over themselves doing stories on new MP Rod Bruinooge, aka the man who gelded Reg Alcock.

Two days ago they couldn't pick him out of a line-up.

Even funnier was that none of the stories had any comment from Hugh McFadyen, the man who did more than Alcock to keep Bruinooge out of the House of Commons.

CTV's Stacey Ashley gets the nod for telling viewers how Bruinooge's background in movies and advertising helped him win. CBC can count coup for having Bruinooge's concession speech when he thought he had lost an hour before the final tally showed he won.

But coverage of Tina Keeper's victory in Churchill was downright surreal. Every reporter gushed at how she brought out aboriginal voters who put her over the top. Whaaat?

Simple math shows that the only reason she won was because voters split their support between NDP candidate Niki Ashton and Independent Bev Desjarlais, who was the MP for the riding in the last Parliament. Put together, their vote topped Keeper's by about 1,800. Like Elijah Harper before her, Keeper is a one-term MP.

And the ballots had barely been counted before the Free Press started rewriting history. Leah Janzen, with files from Jason Bell, wrote Desjarlais "left the party to run as an independent."

That's news to Desjarlais.

She thought she was kicked out of the party by Jack Layton for failing to vote the party line on same-sex marriage.

We bet she's glad the Free Press set her straight.

And with all the hoopla about Tina Keeper being the aboriginal voice in Parliament, don't you find it strange that nobody mentioned that Rod Bruinooge is an aboriginal too? That's right. The most successful politician in Manitoba is aboriginal. But then he's a Conservative. And you know that aboriginals who are Conservatives don't register on reporters' radar. It's not bias, it's a mind-set.

They just get their minds around the fact that every aboriginal doesn't support the NDP or the Liberals or want government handouts. That would require thinking outside the box, which is not safe in the mainstream media. (Hell, at first none of the media seemed to connect the winner to his Winnipeg International Film Festival. But WIFF didn't stage any government funding announcements, so it didn't get a lot of media coverage in the first place.)

But, then, look at someone who did think outside the box and who is sorry now.

NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis is credited for almost single-handedly sending the Liberal Party into Opposition. It was her longshot complaint to the RCMP that turned Grit fortunes to dust. Look into possible insider-trading as a result of a government leak about the Liberal Party's income trust policy, she said.

Political pundits from coast to coast say the turning point of the election came the day in January when the RCMP told her they had launched a formal criminal probe into her suspicions. The Liberals began dropping in the polls and never recovered.

Who? Me? She now says. I didn't do anything. The Liberals did it themselves.

Anyone else would glory in the spotlight. But "progressive" voters are upset that Judy's tip brought in a Conservative government, and she's thinking its prudent to keep a low profile. She doesn't want them spitting at her when she stops at the North End Sals for a nip and a coke.

In his post-election story in the FP, Dan Lett discussed the controversy over Judy's complaint and how angry it made Liberals, on and off the record.

He should have discussed the controversy over why the Free Press, and almost every other mainstream newspaper and television news, failed to report on the income trust story between her complaint and the RCMP announcement.

He quotes Wasylycia-Leis:

"We studied the spike in marked activity. We heard from other people on Bay Street who said this was unusual. There was this huge hue and cry about what happened."

There was? Not in the Free Press.

The FP had a reporter assigned to Kreskin the mentalist, but not to the income trust story.

It was bloggers who kept the story alive, who dug up evidence of spikes in trading, who uncovered an ever-widening circle of government officials who knew about the announcement.

Even in his election-day-after story, Lett provides none of the evidence that Wasylycia-Leis says she uncovered.
Take, for example, this tidbit posted on one of the blogs.

Read the Bloomberg story.

"Canadian Finance Minister Ralph Goodale will say later today that he is leaning against imposing a tax on income trusts as part of his review of the tax treatment for the high-yield securities, a person familiar with the plan said. "

This reporter was clearly told the content of the Income Trust announcement ahead of time. The story was *last updated* at 16:14 on the day in question, 45 minutes before the announcement was made.
Who was the 'person familiar with the plan'? Am I crazy, or is there a gun beginning to smoke here?
Posted by Clive at January 5, 2006 05:12 PM

It didn't take much digging for any reporter to get enough information for a story on the income trust scandal. Citizen reporters had done much of the heavy lifting. And still the professionals ignored the story which would have such bad implications for the Liberals.

Was that thinking outside the box? Or was it that other thing?

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