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:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The NDP shellgame to get re-elected

With every passing week, another layer of the onion is peeled away and we see how the NDP conned its way into reelection.

This week it was the revelation from the citizens of Magnus Avenue that the NDP's Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods Act is next to useless for anything other than an election prop for Justice Minister Dave "Six Months" Chomiak.

Before that, it was the concession by MPI that the NDP's auto theft laws have been a complete failure and the only solution MPI has left is to blame car owners for lettting thieves steal their cars. So they are making immobilizers mandatory.

Premier Gary Doer said in a debate in May that he "would consider" the idea -- but the next time mandatory immobilizers was ever mentioned by anybody connected to the government, was on the last day of June when it was already fait accompli, weeks after the House had adjourned.

Gary Doer never mentioned forcing immobilizers on the public either during the election campaign, or in the legislature where he could have been grilled.

And before that, we learned that NDP Health Minister Theresa Oswald flat-out lied when she told concerned voters in St. James that there was no possibility the Grace Hospital emergency ward would be closed in the summertime - after the election.

We now know that every time she spoke, she knew there was every chance the ER would close because they had no doctors to fill the shifts.

Reporters attending Magnus Murder No.4 this past week duly noted that it happened outside a "known crack house."

In fact, it was the exact "known crack house" where Magnus Murder No. 3 happened in March.

How could a "known crack house" still be open four months later?

Don't we have tough new legislation to shut places like this down? Didn't the NDP boast throughout the election campaign of the law they brought in? Didn't they claim it had already shut down 200 crack houses, booze cans and whorehouses?

Well, it turns out that, as Police spokesman Kelly Dennison says after every murder on Magnus,

- just because every homeowner on the block knows it's a crack house, and
- just because every kid on the block knows it's a crackhouse, and
- just because there's crack needles strewn around the street, and
- just because there's a steady string of crack addicts coming to the house to buy a fix,

doesn't mean the police can do a thing about it.

They need "proof."

Now the Act says (section 6.1) that a court can make a community safety order if it is satisfied that
(a) activities have been occurring on or near the property that give rise to a reasonable inference that it is being habitually used for a specified use; and
(b) the community or neighbourhood is adversely affected by the activities.

The police, either through experience or supposition, say the burden of proof generally means they have to get inside the crackhouse to get the evidence they need.

So they don't bother.

Okay, they don't say the last part, but its implied.

And even if they did get enough evidence to convince a judge that the known crack house was adversely affecting the neighbourhood, the judge can apply section 6.2.(c) to shut it down and keep it closed "for up to 90 days."

By their claim they've shut down 200 nuisance houses. The NDP wants you to believe these places have been cleared of prostitutes and drugs and late-night drinking that plagued their neighbourhoods. Because there is a provision that the court can give and just order the province to take possession of the house. And the NDP wants you to believe that's what happened every time.

But did it? Or were these 200 places shut down for "up to 90 days", then reopened for business as usual?

Note also that the NDP can only claim 200 nuisance houses shut since the law was proclaimed in 2002. That's less than one a week.

Mayor Sam Katz says he has a list of 250 houses that should be shut down. At the going rate, it will take until 2012 to clear the backlog to 2007. That still might be better progress than Manitoba will make on car theft.

In 2004, then Justice Minister Gord Macintosh declared that the number of auto thefts was "unacceptable". He announced some anti-theft measure that have been long-lost in the ether for their uselessness.

MPI now intends to force every owner of a target car, and everyone knows this will eventually mean every car owner in the province, to install an immobilizer.

The intent is to get the car theft numbers down to the "unacceptable" level of 2004. MPI knows, the police know, and every citizen of Manitoba knows the problem won't be solved until the government starts locking up habitual car thieves for long periods of time. But the NDP refuses to use the provincial legislation they control to go after car thieves, so they will continue to attack law-abiding motorists and make them the enemy.

It may only be a matter of time before the NDP starts attacking another enemy - sick people.

Because if they keep coming to hospital emergency wards, they will make the government look very, very bad.

1. "Fix for ER doctors gets richer" reads one headline.

2. "More $$ for ER docs," reads another.

3. "The shortage of ER doctors in the four community hospitals in Winnipeg alone has grown to 14 full-time jobs today from 4.5 in the summer of 2003," states one story.

4. "In Winnipeg's four community hospitals---Victoria, Grace, Seven Oaks and Concordia-the system is currently working short almost 14 full-time emergency room doctor," states another.

5. "Grace Hospital emergency is currently operating with only one physician during day and night shifts. By June there will be the equivalent of three full-time emergency physicians on staff. Ideally, there should be nine," reads one story.

6. "The Grace ER was facing being short six of the nine full-time doctors it is supposed to have on July 1, and many in Winnipeg's western neighbourhoods feared their hospital ER was going to close," reads another.

Numbers 1, 3 and 5 were written IN 2006.

Numbers 2, 4 and 6 were written last month.

After one full year, with an election in between, NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

Faced with an emergency room crisis, the NDP did what they always do---throw money at a temporary band-aid solution until the next crisis.

What made 2007 worse is that Oswald lied throughout the election campaign about the status of Grace Hospital.

It was only AFTER the election that the province re-opened a contract with ER doctors and offered them a truckload of more money if they would work shifts through the summer.

Dr. Brian Postl, CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, revealed that there were 100 shifts in July and August at Grace Hospital alone which were unstaffed until the new deal.

100 shifts. That works out to 33 days when there would have been no doctor in the ER at Grace Hospital.

Theresa Oswald knew this when she campaigned and deliberately kept voters in the dark until after she was re-elected.

And like the NDP's auto theft policies, the new ER deal will only take hospital emergency rooms to unacceptable levels of staffing. Only one doctor per shift can be guaranteed.

That's a virtual prescription for ambulance re-directions, doctor overload, and unacceptable wait times for ill patients.

"There is nothing more important to us than getting the health care we need," said Oswald the day the new agreement was announced.

Well, nothing except getting re-elected, of course.

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