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:

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Free Press reporter ignores Criminal Code in search of Harper scoop

You expect to encounter blowhards and know-it-alls on the sports pages.
Hell, that's half the fun.

But the arrogance demonstrated Wednesday by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Paul Wiecek transcends all propriety and wanders into dangerous territory.

It wasn't his adolescent reference ( x 2) to the officials who accompanied Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Brier in Hamilton as "turds". That wouldn't get him arrested.

This could:

Wiecek was informed that Harper's meeting with Alberta skip Kevin Martin was a private conversation.

"It's private" said "the clown who demanded I turn my tape recorder off..."

"Now, I've heard Harper's government is paranoid, but when a harmless chat with a famous curler gets classified as a state secret, can it be long before Dick Cheney is declared the deputy prime minister?"

"Of course, I didn't turn off the tape recorder. And the muffled sounds it recorded captured exactly what I thought they'd capture---a socially awkward conversation between two socially awkward people."

Wiecek thinks that his arrogant sense of entitlement allows him to intrude into private conversations as long as he cloaks it in the requisite anti-American and anti-Harper rhetoric.

In other words, he thinks he's above the law.

Because the law clearly prohibits taping private conversations.

Criminal Code
Interception of Communications
Disclosure of information 193. (1) Where a private communication has been intercepted by means of an electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device without the consent, express or implied, of the originator thereof or of the person intended by the originator thereof to receive it, every one who, without the express consent of the originator thereof or of the person intended by the originator thereof to receive it, wilfully
(a) uses or discloses the private communication or any part thereof or the substance, meaning or purport thereof or of any part thereof, or
(b) discloses the existence thereof,is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

By taping the Prime Minister's conversation with Kevin Martin, when he was told explicitly it was private and he was not a party to the discussion, Wiecek transgressed the legal protection that Parliament gave to everyone, including Stephen Harper. By bragging about what he did, he flaunted the law.

The Black Rod has written how the Parliamentary Press Gallery has made common cause with the Opposition leaders (see: )

The FP's Ottawa reporter Paul Samyn is a member of the press gallery and one of those still openly boycotting Stephen Harper news conferences, taking a partisan stand in other words.

Free Press publisher Andy Ritchie has endorsed and promoted Samyn's anti-Harper stand. Now we'll see whether he endorses Wiecek's behaviour. Or whether he will do the right thing and apologize to Stephen Harper and Kevin Martin.

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