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:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Manitoba Tories Jump the Shark

Pity the poor Manitoba Tory caucus.

They woke up Wednesday morning to find they're on a white-knuckle ride to Hell.

They thought they had already weathered the worst hangover of their lives when they realized six months ago they elected Hugh McFadyen, the John Kerry of Manitoba, as party leader.

His first order of business was to scrub the weeks-long Legislature bell-ringing campaign designed to force the NDP to announce a public inquiry into the demise of the Crocus Fund. In its place, McFadyen announced a Crocus task force to root out hidden information on the Crocus scandal. The media promptly went back to ignoring anything the Tories did in the House and have yet to write a single story about the findings of the Don Orchard-led, John Loewen-assisted team of sleuths.

It's so secret, nobody has heard from or about the Crocus task force since.

The Black Rod hacked into Tory computers to find out what's going on, and the best we could do is uncover that Super Spy Don Orchard plans to buy his team secret decoder rings and pens that write in invisible ink for Christmas. But keep that under your hat, okay?

McFadyen next revealed that he intended to breathe life into the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party by turning it into an arm of the federal Liberal Party.

If that hadn't re-energized the caucus, McFadyen's performance this week had them gasping for air. At least that's what it did to us.

He dropped his bombshell on the steps of the Legislature before a rally of 40 disgruntled Crocus investors.
Yes, 40.

If elected, he declared, the Tories would compensate the investors who lost millions to mismanagement of the fund.

Say what?

Crocus investors have launched a class action suit for $200 million.
Exactly how much of that are the Tories prepared to pay?
And why should the taxpayer who didn't invest in Crocus pay a dime to the people who did?

If people who lost money investing in the Crocus Fund want to recover their losses, they can sue the board of directors personally, they can sue the Manitoba Federation of Labour which controlled the board, they can sue their financial advisors for bad advice.

But keep your hands out of the pockets of Manitobans who resisted the socialist siren call of Sherman Kreiner and James Umlah.

Crocus was a private venture capital fund. It was not run by the government. Manitoba at no time pledged to backstop Crocus losses.

Yet Hugh McFadyen, leader of the Conservative Party of Manitoba, has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars of taypayers' money to---what--- literally buy votes. (The same votes he had in his hand, when the bells were ringing.)

That's sure to be a great vote getter.

The Tory caucus must feel like the passengers of the bus in the movie Speed tonight. Trapped. Hostages to a deranged hijacker. Knowing their fate. This doesn't end well.

But there's more.

If one bonehead policy announcement a day is bad, then obviously two are better.

That's known as "Hugh-logic" within the party.

Fearless Leader McFadyen told the Winnipeg Free Press that at this weekend's annual general meeting the Conservatives will be announcing major changes to their top priorities.

Health care is being downgraded in importance to make room for infrastructure and education.

Yep. At a time when the Manitoba health system is in shambles after six years of NDP mismanagement, the Tories have decided its time to shift their attention somewhere else.

A nursing shortage caused by union members who refuse full-time work, rotating hospital closures all summer long, unabated hallway medicine, people dying in emergency wards, wait times as long as ever despite a billion dollars more in health spending, and the Tories want to concentrate on fixing bumps in roads.

We hear that Hugh McFadyen got a tip The Black Rod was preparing this story. He immediately issued a press release.

The 'L' on his forehead is not for Liberal, he said. It stands for his little known middle name, Lemming.

"Follow me, team."
"That's not a cliff ahead. It's a line in the sand and I'm stepping over it."
" Forward."
" March."