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:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Memo to MLA's: Car Thieves Don't Take Holidays

Manitoba's lawmakers went back to work Tuesday. They were as giddy as schoolchildren on their first day back from summer holidays.

Maybe it was because the first order of business was a new holiday for Manitoba, one less day for Legislators to work.

The Black Rod couldn't make it to the Legislature. There was a backlog of newspapers to read, and by the time we finished, we couldn't share the bonhommie under the Dome.

Monday, Sept. 24, 2007 Winnipeg Sun
"A St. Norbert widow was in shock after a car tore through a backyard fence and shed before striking the rear of her townhouse early yesterday morning...Nearly four hours after the newer model Dodge Neon tore through the shed...a young man showed up and tried to drive it away."

"...the young man claimed his "friends" had stolen and crashed his family car.""Police expected the driver would face a charge of joyriding..."

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007 Winnipeg Sun
Cop Nearly Run Over By Stolen Vehicle
"A police officer was nearly run over by a stolen vehicle that veered trying to avoid a stop stick late Sunday in Windsor Park."

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007 Winnipeg Sun
"A Winnipeg man was shaken but not hurt when a stolen pickup truck allegedly tried to mow him down after chasing and twice ramming a car in East Kildonan yesterday."

"...the truck chased a white Honda Prelude westbound on Donalda and deliberately rammed it. The truck then turned around and again hit the it was stopped on the boulevard."

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007 Winnipeg Free Press
Woman says driver did it intentionally

The Free Press was treating the incident as a hit-and-run, but every reader saw a replay of last March when jogger Kelly Van Camp was run down on Wellington Crescent and almost killed by car thieves and a 17-year-old girl was deliberately knocked down on a North Winnipeg street by teens in a stolen car.

While car thieves continue to terrorize Manitobans, MLA's promote a new holiday.

And you wonder why politicians are held in such low regard by citizens.

The NDP is confident that the Gary Doer's recent highly publicized delegation to Ottawa, starring Kelly Van Camp in a supporting role, with a cameo from P.C. Leader Hugh McFadyen, has put auto theft to rest as a political issue.

Doer will now deflect all questions about the car theft epidemic with reference to the delegation and he'll claim that its now in the hands of the federal government.

The NDP has done all it can, he will say. Saying anything more is just playing politics.

In this he'll have the full cooperation of the Winnipeg press, which has devoted more time, energy and space to the resignation of Annitta Stenning, an unelected, faceless City Hall functionary, than to the supposedly vital meetings the delegation had with party leaders in Ottawa.

Think about it.

We still have absolutely no idea what happened at these meetings. None of the politicians have reported back to the public. And none of the so-called journalists have even tried to elicit details.

Did Liberal second-in-command Michael Ignatieff leap to his feet and shout,"Now I see how disastrous the Liberal youth justice legislation has been. Can the people of Manitoba ever forgive us?"

Did NDP leader Jack Layton fall to his knees, clasp his hands and beg,"Why, why did we gut the legislation that would send car thieves to jail? Why did we brag that we took deterrence out of the Youth Justice Act? How could we be so blind?"

Tory leader Hugh McFadyen went to Ottawa in the role of spear carrier to Gary Doer. But he had a chance to demonstrate true leadership. He muffed it. He will never have another opportunity as good.

He could have used the trip to confront Jack Layton and his Manitoba MPs. He could have demanded they explain to Manitobans why they worked so hard to undermine legislation that would have toughen the laws against car thieves, laws they now claim to support.

McFadyen could have confronted Ignatieff and demanded a pledge from the Liberals to support changes to the Youth Justice Act.

He did neither. He decided carrying a spear was pretty cool.

Maybe Gary Doer will let him do it again some time.

McFadyen has joined Doer and the Manitoba NDP in contending that there's nothing provincial politicians can do about car theft and youth crime. They're helpless, they say, and we have to beg Ottawa to save us.

Manitoba's legislators want us to believe they're impotent.

But to claim impotence, you have to grow balls first.

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