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:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring Cleaning for 2007

The first day of spring means only one thing --- our annual spring cleaning issue.

It's the time to clear off the desks at the Baxter Building starting with ...

CBC's News at 6:00 has become a popular topic around town for many of the wrong reasons. If they thought a circus act was what viewers wanted, they got it.

Producers didn't realize how tiny Janet Stewart is.
It didn't matter on CKY/CTV because she just had to stay behind the desk and read the news straight to camera and share duties with Gord Leclair. But at CBC she has to interact with Murray Parker, Mike Beauregard, reporters and guests single-handedly. Putting her next to real-sized people makes her look even more Lilliputian. Seeing not-at-all-tall Mike Beauregard tower over her has viewers fiddling with their tv remotes trying to adjust the screen.

Not that it matters. It's just comic relief from the leaden interaction between Janet and Mike at the best of times. There was zero chemistry between the two from Day One. Murray Parker was supposed to give her someone to play off of. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But he's so uncomfortable on the set he sloughs off her every overture. She feeds him a soft pitch and instead of playing with it, he almost bolts to the next segment.

And what's with the hair? We thought Crystal Goomansingh was wearing a fright wig until we realized it's her own hair and she's chosen that style. Yikes... And Janet Stewart's hair is twice the size of her face. If it gets any bigger she'll turn into the Munster's Cousin Itt. Murray's hair looks like it's been in a climate-controlled trunk since 1975. Like his delivery of the weathercast. These people should be talking to Marisia Dragani.

She went away to Makeover City and came back a swan. Vavavoom. She's made us forget her friend Whatserface completely.

Is that Tory leader Hugh McFadyen flip flopping on the ground like a dying fish?

Last spring, when the Conservative Party caucus was holding up the provincial budget to force an Inquiry into the Crocus Fund debacle, McFadyen stroke into the Legislature and told them to knock it off. Crocus was old news, he sniffed. This spring he's planning to, of all things, hold up the Legislature until he gets an inquiry into Crocus. What's he going to do? Ring the bells again?

Last summer, a Winnipeg Free Press/ Probe Research poll claimed infrastructure was the No. 1 issue on the minds of voters. In November at the annual P.C. convention, McFadyen announced that infrastructure and education were now the new Tory priorities replacing health care.


The latest Winnipeg Free Press/ Probe Research poll says health care is once again the top priority for Manitobans. Expect a flip in P.C. priorities any day now. Or is that flop? **********

The biggest flop has been Don Orchard's secret team of ferrets. The team was announced with great fanfare by McFadyen when he called off the bell-ringing. With full access to Tory turncoat John Leowen's files on Crocus the team, and with former MLA General Don Orchard at the helm, they were going to uncover new leads to embarrass the government and force an inquiry.

But how embarrassing was it when the major leaks in the cabinet coverup came to the Manitoba Liberal Party and the daily newspapers?

Orchard's Irregulars had to read the secret cabinet memos and Finance Department e-mails in Tom Brodbeck's column. The Curse of John Loewen strikes again.

Who's feeling more foolish today? Kristine McGhee who jumped the Liberal Party ship for the Conservative Party shores because she thought she had a better chance as the P.C. nominee in Kirkfield Park? Jon Gerrard who recruited her as a coveted candidate only to have her abandon the party and signal her lack of faith in its future? Or Hugh McFadyen who had to watch McGhee lose the nomination in Kirkfield Park and with her all the momentum her defection brought?

And just how pathetic is the Opposition?

They got a crack at questioning government officials at a rare meeting of the Public Accounts Committee soon after the existence of Finance Minister Greg Selinger's help-Crocus memo to caucus was exposed. The meeting lasted 3 hours. The Opposition spent 1:45 debating motions instead of asking questions. That's how pathetic.

You remember CJOB's veteran broadcaster Roger Currie. He's moved to Regina and he wrote an op-ed piece for the Winnipeg Free Press about his decision. But did you read to the end?

"Why on Earth did I ever leave here 25 years ago? I marvelled at the beautiful greenery and the myriad of great activities there was to enjoy.

At the same time I went to work and read the news out of Winnipeg, most of which was tales of horrible crime, of visitors being mugged and robbed. etc. It almost made me think 'Boy, I'm sure glad I moved away from there.' "

Bet you expected him to talk about Spirited Energy, didn't you? Paging Anita Neville...

And where are all those Winnipeg Free Press columnists who attacked Mayor Sam Katz for saying he felt like Hugh Hefner surrounded by beautiful women (in his case medal-winning women speedskaters). Cat got your tongue? Suddenly there's nobody to defend a woman's honour when one of their own browbeats a "petite" gas station attendant to the point she called the police and that was even before he threw something at her head which he himself said "if my aim had been off, could have hurt someone."

You don't think the Winnipeg Free Press has a double standard when it comes to the Mayor do you?

While the union and the Sun prepare to fight over the loss of 6 newsroom jobs, word around town is that 6 employees have already taken the early golden handshake. The biggest hole will be left with the departure of another weather-beaten veteran of the Winnipeg newsworld, Bob Holliday. With him goes half a century's worth of knowledge about the city, the cop beat and the history of local watering holes. Readers do not yet realize the degree of change coming to the Sun as a result of Quebecor's corporate news policies.

Police have been mum about a recent meth lab bust. Normally a press conference would be expected the next day with police displaying the seized equipment and booty, but in this case a Get Smart-like cone of silence has decended on the case. Surely the media would be intrigued by discovery of a meth lab on a swanky Tuxedo street like Swindon Way.

And finally two comments from our mailbag we haven't been able to respond to yet.
The first from 'M':

Hrmmm... can't find your email on the blog site.

Anyway, I continue to really enjoy your articles on Afghanistan. The link to the Edmonton photojournalistwas a great find.

I continue to swing wildly back and forth on my opinion of your local opinions. Chomiak is and alwayswill be a bust, sure, but I'm not sure about your solution re: car thieves. Yes,possibly,the CFS Act could be extended to these kids, though I imagine that process would take a few hits from the courts. But have you run the numbers to see how many of thesekids are already in CFS or foster care?

Fair number of them, though I can't tell you offhand how many. There's a limited number of beds availablegenerally,and there is only a few handfuls of beds inthe locked facility that's available. That locked facility being easier to escape from than GothamCity's Arkham Asylum.

Kids on the run are going back home, or are staying atfriends' places because they know that the police will find them at home. And they'll steal cars some more.While you may not like the officer's comments on thesekids, it doesn't make them wrong.

While it's legally possible to assign criminal responsibility to kidswith Fetal Alcohol Effects, rehabilitation is difficult. So is the answer then to find someway tolock away these kids forever?

Finally, I'll take a rise in attempted thefts of a car with a drop in thefts of a car most days. Attempt theft cannot turn into dangerous driving causingbodily harm or death. Theft can.


And finally this one from 'R':

Good grief.

So a conversation takes place between two public figures in a public place, and Wiecek has broken the law? C'mon...

I noticed that Harper paused for a few photo ops with Martin too. Either that was another invasion of his privacy, or he wants to have it both ways...

Harper's sneering contempt for the media and their essential role makes him a joke. The fact you agree with him makes you a lapdog for Harper.

Well, I guess we'll hear about Wiecek's arrest any time now. Or will the cops display a "liberal bias" and look the other way?

Which definition fits you - the first or the second?

not quick or alert in perception, feeling, or intellect; not sensitive or observant; dull.
not sharp, acute, or pointed; blunt in form.

It's a good thing you're not a real journalist. All Harper or any other politico would have to say is "this is private, ok?", and you'd put your head back in the sand.


Call us strange, we believe the law applies to "real" journalists as well as to private citizens.

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