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:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

McFadyen has loyal Tories chugging Pepto

It takes a strong stomach to belong to the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba these days.

The annual convention last weekend did nothing to settle the butterflies.

In the six months since electing a new leader, the members have learned:

* Tory turncoats who jumped ship to back the discredited federal Liberals, and who still belong to the Liberal Party, are valued members of the new team, more-so than some of the current sitting MLA's who stuck by the P.C.'s through thick and thin .

* The party will be campaigning on a pledge to use millions of dollars of taxpayers money to reimburse people who got huge tax breaks to invest in a private labour-sponsored venture capital fund.

* Tory fundraisers will soon be knocking on doors to raise for money to get more Liberals in the provincial Legislature through changes to electoral laws. ( Tory leader leans toward green, Winnipeg Free Press, Nov. 5, 2006 ).

Policy-by-poll has otherwise replaced the sloppy process of inviting ideas from the party's grassroots.

If a Free Press poll says infrastructure is the top issue, then infrastructure goes to the top of the Tory list.

If the environment scores high, then the Tories will be greener than Kermit.

A wave of queasiness passed over the convention delegates when leader Hugh McFadyen embraced a Green agenda by going all Churchillian and talking about, *gulp*, the sacrifices he would be asking from voters.

"More needs to be done to ensure we've got clean air, clean water and clean land for our children, our grandchildren, and for generations to come."

"That may mean in the short run there's sacrifices to be made." said McFadyen.

"There's a whole bunch of things that cost money and create inconvenience, but they need to be done," he declared.

Since everyone knows "sacrifices" means "taxes", the delegates were overjoyed that none of the reporters on hand pressed McFadyen for more details.

But it wasn't all gloom. There was levity, too. McFadyen understands that the secret of a good speech is "leave 'em laughing."

As the Winnipeg Sun reported:

"Keeping young people in the province is integral to the future of the province and dealing with the environment is one way of accomplishing the goal, he added."

The loud huzzahs that greeted his statement were actually guffaws from the party's executive members enjoying a hearty inside joke.

For even as the Conservatives campaign on "keeping young people in the province", the youth representative on the PC Manitoba board of directors is openly telling people he's quitting this popstand.

Shae Greenfield is the PC Youth President. He supports the PC Party of Manitoba and the Liberal Party of Canada -- in keeping with Hugh McFadyen's theme of turning the provincial Tories into the farm team for the federal Grits.

On his personal website (, Greenfield states:

I am going to focus on finishing up my degree, which I should have by July. I don't expect that I will stay in Manitoba much beyond that point.

As we said, it takes a strong stomach to belong to the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba these days.

Huzzahs of our own:

Two down, four to go.

Tom Brodbeck gave the rest of the class a journalism lesson when he caught Manitoba MP's Pat Martin (NDP) and Raymond Simard (Liberal) flip-flopping in Parliament. Both politicians voted against Bill C-9, the Conservative Party's new tough-on-crime bill, but back in August, both men were for it before they were against it.

The Black Rod called on reporters to hold all the Manitoba Liberals and NDP MP's accountable for voting against the bill despite their mealy-mouthed bleating about crime in their communities.

Brodbeck skewered two of them. Four MP's have not been asked to explain their vote.

The Winnipeg Free Press' Ottawa reporter Paul Samyn also did a story this week.

It was on Halloween night at Stephen Harper's house.


Good Old-fashioned Legwork

CTV's Crime Reporter Kelly Dehn scooped his newspaper counterparts covering the weekend shooting death of a 16-year-old boy on Flora Avenue. He was first to report that a frantic witness to the shooting hid the handgun that killed the boy in a neighbour's basement.

How did he find out?

He asked around.

Bobby, we didn't know you cared.

The Ryerson Review of Journalism (Summer, 2006, now on the stands) carries a story on the challenge to print journalism from news on the Internet.

"Cyber Siege
Yes, the Internet is a big, scary monster that threatens newspapers. But as and others have shown, the counterattack has begun."

Winnipeg Free Press editor Bob Cox is quoted prominently.

" The biggest danger is people posting anonymously on the Web," says Bob Cox, editor of the Winnipeg Free Press. "

"That's no better than graffiti under a bridge."

Now who do you think he's talking about?

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