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.

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:

Monday, February 05, 2007

Gary Doer barking mad at the Tories

They say dogs can smell fear.

In that case, the hounds must be baying around Gary Doer because he's obviously one scared puppy.

Behind all the sturm und drang at the NDP convention this weekend, was an ugly, inescapable image--a Premier who has resorted to slur, smear and scare to lead his troops into an election.

This is the image of someone who's scared stiff and whistling past the graveyard.

It's said Doer is the most-liked politician in the province, but Saturday he came across as the epitome of what people hate about politicos.

We saw someone who can't simply disagree with those who have different ideas, someone who can't debate honestly his differences with people, someone who refuses to accept that others may have a legitimate belief that there's a better way of doing things.

Instead we saw someone whose first instinct is to demonize his opponents, to dehumanize them, to villify them. On Saturday Gary Doer attacked Conservatives with all the vehemence he could muster. He called them liars, monkeys, and sub-humans.

"They walk into coffee shops ... drag their knuckles a little bit and say they're going to lower taxes," Doer sneered. ""Never, ever let the Tories get back in office." He even alluded to them as Nazi's (with Hugh McFadyen presumably as Adolph Hitler).

"We will fight them on the doorsteps. We will fight them at the plant gates. We will fight them in the farm kitchens," said Doer, full of his own cleverness and riffing on Winston Churchill's famous speech to Parliament in 1940.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender...

Doer didn't pump up the convention by reminding the delegates of the successes of the NDP in office.
And we know why.

What could he put on the table?Hallway medicine?

Dave Chomiak was a disaster in the Health porfolio. Tim Sale was his equal. Six years ago the NDP promised to end hallway medicine in six months. They've tried redefining hallways as waiting rooms. They ordered hospitals to say patients in hallways weren't because there was a bed unoccupied somewhere else in the hospital and they might get there someday. And finally, Gary Doer resorted to outright lying in the Legislature when he delared that the number of patients in Manitoba hallways was "none."

Public Safety? Gord Macintosh was a disaster as Justice Minister. The NDP came into office declaring they would fight crime with a "holistic" approach. The success of that is in the skyrocketing car theft stats, the rampant gang crime, and the crack epidemic that no one wants to talk about.

Education? Other than runaway costs, what is there to show? More pay for less work for teachers? The waste of money from an illegal land development by the Seven Oaks School Division? Or the coverup of the illegal land development by Education Minister Peter Bjornson?

Child Care? If inquests and inquiries are a measure of success, the NDP hit the jackpot. Oh, wait, they're not.So Gary Doer wants to fight the next election on Manitoba Hydro. He's going to the mat to stop the privitization of Manitoba Hydro.

Not that anyone plans to privatize Hydro.

But that doesn't matter. That's what a Straw Man is about. Gary Doer has put on his patented "I'm serious" frown, and he wants you to know he's serious.

He doesn't want you to know he's already selling off Hydro assets. Actually, he's not selling Hydro assets, he's giving them away, but he hopes nobody notices or at least nobody, other than The Black Rod, calls him on it.

It doesn't take a psychologist to see past his insults and his misdirection and realize that Doer is running scared.

He's running out of time. Every government has a best-before date. The NDP's has long past. The polls show a steady decline in NDP fortunes, even though the Opposition is lacklustre at best. Doer's only hope is to buy the election by spending millions upon millions to creat the illusion of a thriving province.

But the clock keeps ticking.

The fourth anniversary of the NDP's last election is in late June. Why call an election before then? He has a majority government and a tepid Opposition. He can pass any legislation he wants, whenever he wants. So why rush to the polls? Better to wait for a federal budget in March to see what goodies can be added to a Manitoba spring budget. Yet the window for an election keeps shrinking.

Ontario will have an election in September. The union help that the NDP depends on will be busy in Ontario through August and September. Does he dare call an election for July, the first summer month when the kids are out of school and everyone wants to go to the beach or the cabin or the lake to get over the brutal winter?Quebec may have an election this year.

It's five year mandate ends in April, 2008, but traditionally governments go to the people after four years. So a Quebec election in May or June, soon after the federal budget in March, would make sense. The NDP has no influence in Quebec, so Doer could hold an election concurrently, although it's also traditional for provinces not to have competing elections.

With April through September spoken for in one way or another, a Manitoba election begins to get pushed later rather than sooner. And it can't begin until the harvest is in... can you say...


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