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, November 29, 2007

Breaking news--an alien concept for Winnipeg's TV stations

God forbid that news breaks out in front of the cameras of Winnipeg's three television news stations. It just spoils everything.

Reporters and cameramen for CKY, Global and CBC T.V.were on the steps of the Manitoba Law Courts getting reaction to the sentencing of murderer Corey Spence who killed Phil Haiart five days before turning 18.

They were listening to Isora Van Dreser, Haiart's girlfriend, when the murderer's mother and some of his thuggish friends began to taunt, insult, and, according to the Winnipeg Free Press, threaten the girl.

Note we have to depend on the Winnipeg Free Press for the news that threats were made because none of the television newscasts broadcast any threats. Which is not the least bit surprising as you'll see.

All three television stations treated the incident as an irritation that detracted from the real news.

The reporters had their stories carefully plotted out. Intro, voice over old footage of the murder, clip from girlfriend, clip from defence lawyer, reporter's standup and it's time to go home to the suburbs for supper.

But then, wouldn't you know it, news happened. Damn.

NOT ONE newscast showed the incident from start to finish. You had to watch fragments of the incident on all three stations to piece together what happened.

It started with a red-haired woman making sneering comments to Isora Van Dresser. A young man and woman behind her are yelling something. A woman tries to shield Van Dreser from the threatening group. A female sheriff's officer steps in to shoo them away. They continue to hurl comments at Van Dreser, and a male sheriff's officer strides over to help his female colleague control the group.

CKY and Global showed the killer's mother interrupting Van Dreser's comments to taunt her over the death of her boyfriend. CBC either missed it or chose not to use it. Global identified her and the thugs behind her as "family" of the murderer.

CKY was the only one to identify the red-haired harridan as his mother.

Apparently none of the television reporters on the scene thought it newsworthy to question the killer's mother or her son's friends about their intimidating outburst. That would involve acting as reporters instead of recorders. Phooey on that.

The television reporters came to the Law Courts to do a story about the sentencing of Corey Spence. And they were going to do that story come hell or high water.

In the process they missed the bigger story--- how easily gang members and their families can threaten witnesses and the families and supporters of victims.

Corey Spence's thuggish friends and family weren't the least bit worried about making their taunts in front of the cameras. There were no police protecting Isora Van Dresser. There were no sheriff's officers separating her from the goons. And the reporters watched in amusement rather than putting the spotlight on the supporters of the murderer.

The Winnipeg television stations deserve thanks, though, for one thing.

They've provided real-time study material for journalism schools across the country into how "professional" television reporters can ignore breaking news in front of their eyes when it interrupts the by-the-book stories they plan to do.

And once again we see that Dave "Six Months" Chomiak is as useless in the Justice portfolio as he was in Health.

Lately he's been puffing himself up to look like a tough gang-fighter.

- Oh, look, there's Chomiak going to Ottawa to pound his little fists on the desk and demand tougher laws against crime. Oh, look, there's the federal NDP laughing at Chomiak and publicly announcing they're going to undercut the changes he wants.

- Oh, look, there's Chomiak announcing more prosecutors. Oh look, there's the Crown attorney's office botching another prosecution.

- Oh, look, there's Chomiak announcing better protection for witnesses... Uh, skip that one.

Because exactly one day later the gangs and their supporters bitch-slapped "Six Months" Chomiak in front of the cameras.

They demonstrated that they have no fear and no respect for the police, the Crown, and the courts. They openly taunted, and maybe even threatened (if the Free Press got it right) innocent people in front of the Law Courts.

Because they can.

Is there one viewer out there that isn't worried about the safety of Isora Van Dresser this morning?

Maybe Winnipeg's T.V. stations should save their outtakes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Murder at the Empire Cabaret: Eyewitness Details

The Black Rod is hearing disturbing reports that may explain why Winnipeg police are having trouble finding the man who stabbed 24-year-old Jeff Engen to death at the Empire Cabaret.

We've collected information from well-placed sources who were at the Empire the night of the murder---a friend of Engen's who was standing beside him when he was stabbed, and a girl who was splashed with his blood before he collapsed and died in front of her eyes.

And the story we're hearing is:

1. There were NO ID SCANNERS at the Empire so "there's no way of knowing who had been in and out of the place all night." People coming in could see themselves on security cameras, but THE CAMERAS WERE NOT RECORDING.

2. Not that it mattered anyway, because, as we're told, THE KILLER WAS A FRIEND OR ACQUAINTANCE OF SOMEONE WELL-CONNECTED TO THE CLUB and was let in through a private entrance bypassing all security measures.

Some information reaching our ears contradicts what's been reported in the newspapers.

For example, the friend of Engen's who was bar-hopping with him that night has said they were literally standing back-to-back when Engen was stabbed. There was no commotion before the attack, according to him, and no apparent trigger for the stabbing.

The girl who thought she was just going dancing with a friend said they were patted down when they arrived at the Empire at about 11 p.m. But after they went to another club and returned about 1:30 a.m. "we were able to walk right through security without so much as a second glance."

On Saturday nights, the Empire Cabaret hosted "The Palacio de la Salsa" on the main floor, with music ranging from Salsa, Cumbia, Merengue, Bachata, and Latin pop. In the basement it was DJ Oxide playing House music for a different crowd.Upstairs, couples were dancing to the final song of the night, Boyz II Men's On Bended Knee, when a dying Jeff Engen staggered onto the dance floor.

A blog post by J.A. picks up the story:

"... all of a sudden a guy stumbled past me and collapsed into M. She either pushed him or he just fell on the floor. Confused, I looked the the guy, who was on the floor on his back a few feet from us. His chest was covered in blood and his eyes were closed and he was moving slowly, gasping. I looked at M and she was covered in blood. Her chest and arms, her shirt, all down both of her legs. She was looking at him and back down at her arms and clothes repeating "oh my god."

I looked down at my own hands and saw that I had blood on my shirt, forearms, and hands. I walked over to M and kept watching the guy on the floor as a crowd formed around him and people tried to help him. Someone lifted up his shirt to find out where he was bleeding from. He had a cut down his chest that was gushing blood. Another person who was holding his hand against the man's neck said, loudly "he's got no pulse, he's gone" just as the man gasped and moved his head. M and I both yelled "he's not dead! He's moving!"

...M was drenched and we needed to get cleaned off. I grabbed our stuff and we went down the back spiral staircase to the basement where the bathrooms are. There was what I assumed was a barback or some kind of staff member standing at the top of the stairs who told us that we couldn't go down. M told him "I'm covered in blood, move," or something to that effect, and we went downstairs. Each step had a pool of blood on it. It was terrifying. We cleaned up and I realized that I had left my bag on our table so I ran upstairs to get it. I considered briefly going back up the bloody staircase, but I saw some bewildered staff member starting to mop up the blood and a bartender yelled at me not to use those stairs, so I ran to the front stairs.

When I got upstairs the lights were on and people were everywhere. I grabbed my bag and watched as a security guard yelled at someone who was trying to give the man on the floor CPR that he was doing it wrong. A woman stepped in and started to take over. I watched as she pumped his chest and instructed the security guard to breathe into his mouth. I was frozen. I went back downstairs, sure that I had just seen him die."

Police gathered about 20 people in a bus and took them to the Public Safety Building to get videotaped statements from them. But the process took hours, leaving J.A. to suspect the delay was deliberate.

"I realized afterward that they were probably leaving us in there for so long to wear us down, so that any attempt at hiding the truth would be thwarted by our sheer exhaustion and overwhelming desire to get the fuck out of that tiny, claustrophobia-inducing room."

But if it was deliberate, it may have been counter-productive.

"Why did we have to wait in cells for 7 hours before we gave our statements (at which point I had forgotten a bunch of details that I would have remembered had I been questioned right away)?"


Crips and Bloodz true cultural anchors of Winnipeg's aboriginal gangs

The Black Rod's exclusive expose of the connections between six Winnipeg murder victims and a network of street gangs brought us this feedback straight from The Street, correcting some of our research. We couldn't dream of editing it, so we present it as received:

you have my homie lester(R.I.P) listed under CKrabz. he aint no muthafucken CKrab he a strait up BLOOD PIRU * Lester Gonzalez(BLOODZ), 19, was stabbed to death outside after leaving the Empire Cabaret on Main Street bar in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve. Crips killaz. this shit is wrong it fucken pisses me off to see this shit.. and dat shit wit andrew nobess he aint no muthafucken blood he just some guy trying to get down with us and elliot flett was no blood either we don't even know these muthafuckers. also we are not a "aboriginal Gang" as you put it. 50 percent of the familia is natives like me 25 percent latinos the res asian,white,and black. so now that i straiten it out about the notorious and youngbloodz. change dat shit you got all wrong on your muthafuCKen article. Let a blood kill a crip and let tha tru color drip YOUNGBLOODZ OSV FAMILIA fo lyfe

Monday, November 26, 2007

War In Afghanistan 2007 Week 46 and 47

Short and sweet, the headline told the whole story.

"Troops capture Taliban's birthplace"

"Canadian troops pushed the Taliban out of their birthplace in a storm of artillery shells and rockets on the weekend..."

Canadian soldiers had driven Taliban fighters out of Sangisar, described by the Globe and Mail as "a stubborn enclave of insurgents where the Taliban's supreme commander, Mullah Muhammed Omar, founded the armed movement in 1994."

The significance of that action can't be oversold. When the Canadians forced a humiliating retreat of Taliban forces from the Panjwai district of Kandahar province in 2006 it was like NATO setting up camp in the Taliban's back yard. With the capture of Sangisar, we've moved into their living room.

By the account of G&M reporter Graeme Smith, it was a hard fought battle highlighted by the Taliban's use of children as human shields and Canadian forces calling down artillery and air strikes so close to their own positions that they were peppered with shrapnel.

See combat video at - Battle for Sangisar - Afghanistan/

Major Richard Moffet, the battle group commander, said direct fire from his troops killed a dozen insurgents. Another 20 to 30 were killed by the artillery fire and aerial bombing. Helicopter gunships, snipers, and French Mirage jets swept Taliban positions for nearly two days before the engagement ended.

Two Canadian soldiers--Cpl. Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp, 28, of the 5th Field Ambulance in Valcartier, and Pte. Michel Levesque, 25, of the 3rd battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment, Valcartier--and an Afghan interpreter, whose name we haven't been able to find, died when the vehicle they were in hit a roadside bomb. Three other soldiers were injured.

The troops were riding in a LAV III Light Armored Vehicle, a particularly easy target for insurgents.

Roadside bombs have killed 24 Canadian soldiers this year. Only two have died in combat situations--one hit by a mortar and the other a photographer killed when a U.S. helicopter was downed in Helmand province. (The other Canadian fatalities were a suicide, an accidental shooting and an accidental fall off a tower while conducting surveillance.)

By contrast, in 2006, IED's killed six Canadians, suicide bombers killed 10, and 14 died in combat.These casualty figures are an indictment of the officers in the Canadian military. When you lose fewer soldiers during a major combat operation than in the reconstruction that follows, it's clear we're better off taking the fight to the enemy than waiting patiently for him to bring death to us.

With four years of ground fighting in Iraq as a precedent, how can it be that Canadian forces have done next-to-nothing to offset the threat of IED's other than to make bold promises of new equipment whenever a roadside bomb kills more soldiers. Husky replaces Nyala replaces LAV and still troops die and die needlessly.

Through October, the number of improvised explosive devices, including car and suicide bombs, totaled 1,932, up from 1,739 for all last year, according to military statistics.

Wasn't anyone paying attention to the style of fighting in Iraq before we set off for Afghanistan? Where were the new tactics? The best equipment? The brainy scientists with fancy solutions? How can we accept a ratio of one combat death (not counting the photographer) to 24 deaths from IED's? Answer: we can't and we shouldn't. Someone has to be held accountable?

Back to the fighting...

The timing of the Sangisar push may not have been an entirely independent decision by Canadian planners. Unreported in the Canadian media is the push on the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala that started one week earlier. Was Sansigar a diversionary assault to draw off potential reinforcements?

Early this month, a column of 50 British armored vehicles from the Scots Guards pushed into Taliban-held territory in northern Helmand province, encircling the town of Musa Qala. It may be the final push to drive the Taliban from the town they've held since February and to hammer the final nail into Taliban claims of success in 2007.

The British left Musa Qala in the fall of 2006 under the fig leaf of a peace agreement that would see local elders keep Taliban fighters under control once the NATO forces were gone. Ha Ha. As fully expected, the Taliban simply swept in and took over when they chose, turning Musa Qala into a base for attacks south into British-held Helmand and Canadian-held Kandahar provinces, and east into Dutch-held Uruzgan province.

But they've known the day of reckoning is approaching. Since September, U.S. special forces have been chipping away at Taliban insurgents in the Musa Qala district. Coalition forces lured Taliban fighters into remote valleys were they were decimated by superior air power. 5 major engagements since September killed an estimated 250 insurgents. According to, most of the recent fighting has been several kilometers south of the city in a rugged valley known as the Musa Qala Wadi.

The British assault is tempered to give time for negotiations with one of the militias occupying Musa Qala. One of the four senior Taliban commanders in the area, Mullah Abdul Salaam, has indicated he wants to defect with up to a third of the forces defending Musa Qala, another indicator of which side the Afghan people think is winning.This comes as shocking news to mainstream media reporters who love to point out that the Taliban is "resurgent" and the insurgency is spreading.

This, from Reuters, is an excellent example:
Despite the high casualty rates among Taliban rebels whenever they clash directly with Afghan and foreign troops, the insurgency shows no sign of abating, but instead has spread from the south and east to areas previously considered safe.

What they ignore is that the Taliban are being attacked in their backyard for the second year running and are being driven out by NATO forces (Panjwai, Sangin, Sansigar, Musa Qala). The old commanders who came from Kandahar have been humiliated and have lost their influence. The new commanders are concentrating their attacks on the east and north, where they think they can make gains against NATO countries like France, Germany and Italy who refuse to fight and depend on U.S. forces to hold off the insurgents.

"We have sent hundreds of new and fresh Taliban suicide bombers to Afghan cities for attacks on occupying foreign troops and their Afghan slaves," one Mullah Hayatullah Khan recently told Reuters "by satellite telephone from an unknown location."

"These Taliban suicide bombers were sent from Taliban camps to Afghan cities, including cities in the north of Afghanistan to find good targets," he said. Next year, he said, would be even worse. "Next year, 2008, will be the bloodiest year for U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan and we will make the Afghan land a graveyard for foreign forces," he said.

The last "commander" to make the same boast, Mullah Dadullah, was last seen wondering where the rockets that blew him to pieces came from.

Still, more than 200 people have been killed in at least 130 suicide bomb attacks in Afghanistan this year. A suicide bombing in Baghlan province, north of Kabul, this month left 77 dead and 100 wounded. The carnage was so great nobody has taken credit for the attack, although from the bragging by Mullah Hayatullah Khan, it's obvious. The deadliest attack previous to this was in June when a suicide bomber killed 35 people in an attack on a police bus.

Last Friday a suicide bomber attacked Italian troops inspecting a bridge near Kabul. One Italian soldier was killed along with nine civilians, including four children. But in most instances the attacks follow this pattern:

HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) - A suicide attacker blew up a car bomb near an Italian military convoy in Afghanistan, killing only himself, an Afghan general said, in a blast similar to others by the Taliban. The attacker detonated the explosives about 100 metres (yards) from the convoy in the western province of Farah but the vehicles drove off unscathed, General Dayan Andarabi said.

KABUL (AFP) - A suicide bomber blew himself up near a convoy of NATO soldiers in Afghanistan on Saturday, causing only minor damage, the alliance's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) In another in a stream of attacks, a suicide bomber blew himself up near an ISAF vehicle in Helmand's Gereshk area, Andiwal said.There were no other casualties.

The British Ministry of Defence released this account of a suicide bomber's attack on a patrol returning to base:

"The incident, which lasted a matter of seconds, happened as the soldiers, from 473 Special Observation Post Battery, 5 Regiment Royal Artillery, were heading back to the camp in Gereshk. A white Toyota Corolla, which contained a suicide car bomber, suddenly pulled out and attempted to drive into their convoy of Pinzgauer vehicles.

The first Pinzgauer swerved to avoid the car and the top cover sentry, Corporal Lee Wilbor, fired a single shot through its window, causing the driver to collapse at the wheel. But the Toyota carried on, swerving erratically into the path of the rear vehicle, whose soldiers opened fire causing the car to veer out of the way before it dramatically exploded.

Describing the incident, Captain James Ashworth, said: "Initially I thought 'what is this guy up to', as the local traffic usually pulls over. I then shouted a warning; fortunately my top cover sentry, Corporal Wilbor, was in an ideal position to fire a single well aimed round. The rear vehicle then opened fire on the target and the bomb detonated. Luckily it was now between our two vehicles and we were sufficiently far apart from the blast not to sustain any serious injuries."

Corporal Darren Clark, the driver of the front vehicle, said;
"As soon as I saw the car heading towards us, I knew it must be a suicide bomber, I veered off but he still managed to clip the rear of the Pinzgauer, at the same time, Frodo [Corporal Lee Wilbor] got a round off at him and then the rear vehicle opened fire. The white vehicle then detonated; I felt shrapnel flying over our heads; I was told to stop but the explosion had blown the brakes, so it took me a while. We then jumped out and got to business in clearing up."

Corporal Sandy Blunt, Top Cover sentry of the rear vehicle, said; "I had just noticed some kids waving at me and I waved back. It was then it happened; I heard a crash and then a shot rang out from the front vehicle. I turned and saw the white vehicle heading toward me. We then as a team opened fire on it.

"When the white vehicle was about 10 metres away, it exploded. Corporal Bayliss and I were flung to the floor by the blast. I jumped up and thought the Sergeant Major and driver must be dead. But to my amazement, the 'Boss' was on his feet, calm as you like, and round the vehicle to see if we were all ok."

The blast caused only slight damage to the vehicles and some of the patrol sustained minor blast injuries like nose bleeds. They secured the area and took care of those needing medical attention. The medics also attended to an Afghan motorcyclist who had been trying to pass as the bomb was detonated, unfortunately he had died instantly.

The Officer Commanding 473 Special Observation Post Battery, Major Tony Phillips, added:
"This proves the training works. The key thing is we went in and performed a role of which we are highly trained and able to react to any given situation. I am extremely pleased and delighted with the performance of my troops on this and all the other missions they have completed. There is a real confidence throughout the Battalion for all the scenarios that they will encounter on this tour."

The British news offers some of the best snapshots of the action in Afghanistan. Recently the return home of one Army regiment offered a barometer to the fighting, the success and the future of NATO's mission.

How Royal Anglians killed 1,000 Taliban Daily Telegraph (UK) 16/11/2007 Thomas Harding
The intensity of combat in Afghanistan has been laid bare as one Army regiment revealed that it had fired one million rounds, killed 1,028 Taliban and lost nine men in a six-month tour of duty.


At times, fighting saw 1Bn of the Royal Anglians having to "winkle out the Taliban at the point of a bayonet", said Lt Col Stuart Carver, the commanding officer, at the battalion's medal ceremony.


Lt Col Carver said his men had fought conventional trench warfare, engaging a well-trained enemy from, at times, 15 feet away.
"There was some pretty fierce fighting in conditions you would sometimes see in World War Two, clearing buildings and trenches."
The enemy was highly trained and well equipped, although others were poorly trained fanatics.
"The good ones are extremely good, religiously motivated and will stay and fight until the last," Lt Col Carver said. "Sometimes they had to be winkled out of buildings at the point of a bayonet."

He said the Taliban mounted more than 350 attacks on his troops.

"By the end of the Anglian tour, three quarters of shop fronts had been restored to Sangin, which had previously been a ghost town. A school for 500 boys and girls had opened and the population had electricity. The security threat had also dropped to 'Northern Ireland levels'."

Northern Ireland levels. Lt. Col. Carver may have just set the standard for measuring progress in Afghanistan.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Et tu, Jack? Et tu, Joe?

The federal NDP Monday brushed Manitoba Premier Gary Doer aside like a bug on a windshield in their rush to oppose changes to the Youth Justice Act.

No sooner had the Harper government announced amendments to the law to make general deterrence and denunciation key principles in sentencing, than the federal NDP declared such ideas "useless".

It was barely two months ago that Gary Doer's All-United Travelling Salvation Dog-and-Pony Show descended on Ottawa, with the mayors of Winnipeg and Brandon scattering rose petals in Brother Doer's path, and his hand-picked merry men, Hugh McFadyen and Jon Gerrard, skipping behind him like giddy schoolgirls going on a picnic. They had come, one and all, to seek changes to the Youth Justice Act and the Criminal Code through stronger penalties for gang crimes and auto theft.

And all seemed peachy at the time, according to the Winnipeg Free Press account of the trip:

Doer made his anti-crime pitch directly to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a one-on-one meeting that Doer called "extremely positive."

"We had very strong indications that there will be changes coming forward," he said. Doer rejected the suggestion that minority gridlock could make it tough to get much action on crime. He said the non-partisan delegation from Manitoba serves as a good model of co-operation, and he said he wouldn't shy away from criticizing any party -- including the federal NDP -- that stymies crime legislation.

But NDP justice critic Joe Comartin, who supports Manitoba's proposals, said he's worried some measures might get sidelined if the Tories decide to focus on drug crimes this fall.
(Manitoba posse hits Ottawa, Demands toughening of crime laws; Fri Sep 21 2007; By Mary Agnes Welch)

And so there would be no mistake, Mary Agnes Welch polled the individual parties on their positions regarding the Doer mission.

No firm commitment, but Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said he would take a serious look at Manitoba's proposals.

The federal NDP has been criticized for holding up crime legislation, but Leader Jack Layton said he was supportive of Manitoba's proposals.

Deputy Leader Michael Ignatieff did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

But no sooner had the provincial bumpkins left the capital, than it was business as normal.

On Monday, Joe Comartin, the NDP's justice critic, told Don Newman, host of Politics, CBC's daily political interview show based in Ottawa, that deterrence and denunciation don't work and the NDP opposes their inclusion in the Youth Justice Act.

The Toronto Star quoted Comartin saying the amendments are "basically useless" and a "political" move "because our judges are already dealing with the detention of youth when appropriate using the same type of criteria that's in that part of the bill."

Talk about a slap in the face.

Here's how the Manitoba NDP's own news releases have been trumpeting the very principles that their federal counterparts scoff at (emphasis ours):

March 21, 2007
Strengthening Federal Youth Criminal Justice Act Key Piece in Manitoba Auto Theft Strategy: Chomiak

"Manitoba has been a consistent advocate for a stronger YCJA," (Justice Minister Dave) Chomiak said. "Stronger federal law will mean tougher sentences and meaningful consequences for youth who commit crimes in our communities."

Chomiak said reform of the federal YCJA is a key missing link in Manitoba's fight against auto theft. He noted Manitoba has repeatedly called on Ottawa to tighten up the YCJA to provide stiffer consequences that will deter youth from engaging in serious and repeat criminal behaviour, and will allow for sentences that reflect the severity of the crime.

Oct.4, 2006
Building on the province's auto-theft strategy, Manitoba will call for important amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Criminal Code that would bolster sentencing to send a strong deterrent message to would-be auto thieves and enhance the ability of the justice system to deal appropriately with repeat offenders.

"Strong sentences send a strong deterrent signal to young people thinking of stealing a car," Chomiak said. "A federal commitment to sentencing auto thieves is a key component of Manitoba's tough approach on auto theft."

When the slightest concern was expressed in the Manitoba Legislature that Gary Doer couldn't count on the support of his federal counterparts, "Six Months" Chomiak leaped to the defence:

Oct. 2, 2007
Auto TheftAnti-theft Programs
Mr. Gerald Hawranik (Lac du Bonnet): The federal Conservative government has pledged to increase penalties for auto theft, provided, of course, Jack Layton and the federal NDP will let it go through Parliament. It's now time for the Minister of Justice to do his part and look to best practices in other provinces that have been extremely successful in curbing auto theft. Provinces have substantially reduced auto theft without changes to the Criminal Code.

So I ask the Minister of Justice: Why has he failed to follow the lead of other provinces with respect to auto theft?

Hon. Dave Chomiak (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): In point of fact, Mr. Speaker, the member ought to know, and perhaps his leader could inform him, that the Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson, and Stockwell Day indicated that Jack Layton and the NDP supported the crime initiatives of the Conservative parties, and so he should check with his own leader.

As fully anticipated, the NDP's tough-on-crime talk has turned into soft-on-criminals action when it matters. The Manitoba NDP government introduces a new Speech from the Throne today when its expected to announce more tough-on-crime measures.

What we won't see is the Manitoba NDP denounce Jack Layton, Joe Comartin, Judy Wasylysia-Leis, or Pat Martin.

The Manitoba NDP MPs have demonstrated how powerless they are in caucus, if they even bothered to promote Manitoba's crime agenda. They have been dead silent in challenging Layton and Comartin and defending Manitoba's call for tougher laws for youth crime.

The reporters didn't get Wasylysia-Leis or Martin on the record supporting Doer and Company in September.

And we're betting they won't be chasing either of them for comment on why their leader is spitting in Manitoba's face.

Et tu, Judy. Et tu, Pat.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to...

... a time when scientists suspected atom bombs were changing the weather, when they feared global warming would lead to a new Ice Age, when they confidently predicted satellites and computers would have all the answers, and when the year 2000 was so far, far away.

The Date: January 1, 1966
The Magazine: Maclean's
The Story: What's Changing Our Weather?

Scientists now admit man's conquest of matter may upset the climate

What's causing this crazy weather?
Freak storms, massive droughts, killer hurricanes, snow in July....It's "those damn atom bombs," many people have muttered. "Nonsense," snapped the weathermen, but now some of them are beginning to change their minds.

Cutline: The chaotic weather of recent years is enough to make a rattled TV forecaster turn in his chalkboard.

And, experts ask, though it's warming up, can a new Ice Age be far behind?


Since implications are tremendous for birds, fish, animals and plants---and therefore for our whole economy---North Americans were posing a basis and vital question when they asked, "Is our weather changing?" Meanwhile, scientists were asking a question that is even more ominous, "Is it something that man is doing that is altering weather patterns?"

Chief Walking Eagle, an aged Indian who has predicted the weather accurately for the past five years, is certain of it. At Rocky Mountain House, Alta., recently, he explained, "The white man is getting too big and rich. Manitou does not like this and he gives bad weather."

Others, however, believe nuclear tests---the latest of these being China's atmospheric blast last May---may be the culprit. For years climatologists labeled such suggestions "idiocy", pointing out that more energy is released each second of an ordinary thunderstorm than in an entire nuclear blast. But many citizens doggedly go on insisting that "those damn atom bombs" are the real cause of our crazy climate.Lately, some authorities have begun to think the laymen might be partly right...


In 1961 and 1962, the U.S. and the USSR detonated a series of nuclear bombs, one of them (Russian) exceeding fifty megatons---the biggest man-made explosions in history. The following winter was Europe's worst ever. Snow even fell on the French Riviera.

These two series of events could be mere coincidence or they could be related. Many authorities, including Dr. A.B. Meinel, of the University of Arizona, think there is a connection; that only our ignorance of high-altitude wind patterns prevents us from predicting where and when the effects might show.


Dr. Walter Mitschfeld, head of the Department of Meteorology at McGill, ...contends that nuclear explosion in the upper atmosphere could---because of the lower pressure there---electrify dust particles over a vast area. That could upset the delicate balance of ultra-violet reaching earth. Since this form of radiation has its greatest effects on the equatorial zone, where tropical cyclones and hurricanes are born, the possible effects are enormous.


...there is general agreement among all climatologists that the world's climate is getting warmer. But whether we are comfortably in the middle or a warming cycle or near the end is another matter.


Robert M. White, head weatherman for the United States government,...believes computers may soon give answers to these questions, which would otherwise require centuries of weather observations to determine.


The first regular weather observations in Canada began in 1839 in Toronto. Records since show that average winter temperatures in the city rose about three degrees between 1895 and 1950. During the latter part of this period an increase in the rate of warming was also noted by weathermen in cities as far apart as Vancouver, which claimed an average winter rise of almost one degree over about fifty years, and Montreal, whose average winter temperature rose a significant three degrees in only eighty years.

But far more tangible signs indicate the trend. Between 1900 and 1935 the mean January temperature of Dawson City, Yukon, rose a startling ten degrees. (Oddly, however, it is now almost back to the turn-of-century low.) At Point Barrow, Alaska, residents were astonished to find the harbor thawing earlier and freezing later, giving them today a shipping season of ten weeks instead of six.


The possible causes and effects of this warming trend are intriguing subjects for speculation, particularly for Canadians. Science's most popular theory about the cause is that the sun, our sole source of heat, is a variable star whose own output of warmth continues to flucturate. Until 1957, and the first satellite, there was no practical way of measuring the sun's heat without having the earth's stored heat interfere with the results. Now such a measurement can be made, but it will be some time before enough data can be obtained to indicate whether the sun's heat does fluctuate enough to affect the earth's temperature.

The effects of new warmth could be startling. On the one hand it could encourage the northward march of man, animals, plants, fish and birds, opening great new areas to the concentrated populating that now makes, say, southern Ontario such a boom region. On the other hand it could mean the virtual end of civilization. For, as the late British climatologist C.E.P. Brooks has calculated, a worldwide rise of only two degrees in the annual temperature would melt enough ice to flood most of the world's coastal cities.

Two eminent U.S. scientists, geologist William L. Donn and oceanographer Maurice Ewing, take Brooks's deductions one step further. They believe the melting of the Arctic ice would, ironically, precipitate a new ice age over North America. Their reasoning goes like this: The glaciers did not spread south from the pole as is generally assumed. They began one dreary winter when more snow fell than melted and continued till snow was falling all year round. The deepest snow was around Hudson Bay, in the direct path of the northerly winds blowing from the Arctic Ocean, which must have been open water to give up so much moisture to the winds.

"Therefore," says Donn, " the rapidly thinning six feet of ice over the Arctic Ocean is all that's saving us from another ice age."

Oceanographer Ewing confirmed this theory by applying evidence found in the ocean bed that eleven thousand years ago an abrupt change occurred in Atlantic marine line, from cold-water to warm-water organisms. The reason, he believes, was that so much water had evaporated from the Arctic Ocean that the ocean sank below a land bridge connecting Iceland and Greenland. Cut off from warmer Atlantic water, the Arctic Ocean froze, and in turn, cut off the wind's supply of snow. The sun did the rest.

Greenland Eskimos now take big catches of cod where only fifty years ago cod stayed five hundred miles south of the island. This means that warmer Atlantic water is again moving north, hastening the melting of the ice crust. Will Donn's predictions of a new ice age soon become reality?

It may be a hundred years till this bleak prospect materializes, but we have enough to worry about till then. What, for example, could be causing the fantastic drought over the northeastern United States and the Maritimes, now in its fifth consecutive year? How much longer will this change continue--till the whole area is a desert?


Some of the hottest arguments between weather experts have arisen over temperature changes. Experts begin by agreeing there is at least one non-nuclear human activity that could be affecting the weather: the burning of plant-remains such as coal and oil.


Some U.S. physical chemists insist that the quantity of carbon dioxide in the air has risen by thirteen percent in the last century. By 2000 A.D. , they claim, there will be enough to raise much of North American's temperature as much as six degrees. snip

What really vexes weathermen, however, is their inability to build a model to study climate under laboratory conditions as other scientists do in such "simple" fields as physics, histology, cybernetics.


When the computers take over, things of course will be different. Then, when you've got that big annual picnic to plan, you'll just feed a machine with the basic data--the location and a choice of dates. One push of the button and the machine will look ahead several weeks and pick the ideal day--guaranteeing the balmy weather you need. Unless Mother Nature happens to decide at the last minute that snow would be nice in July, for a change.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bulletin- Anti-Semitism 101 at Sturgeon Heights Collegiate

The Hate Crimes Unit has been called to the investigate the harassment of Jewish high school students attending the University Fair at Sturgeon Heights Collegiate Thursday.

In a scene straight out of 1964 Mississippi, the Gray Academy visitors ran a gauntlet of coins being thrown at them, on their way to board a bus taking them back to the Asper Campus. The harassment, which started inside the school, didn't stop when they reached the sanctuary of the bus- as the vehicle was rocked and one public school student was seen flipping a switchblade near the tires.

Sturgeon Heights Collegiate is no stranger to the attention of city police, as a 17 year old student identified as a member of a street gang was arrested for brandishing a metal pipe only a week ago, and two students told the Winnipeg Sun, ""There are always cops here, all the time,".

Thursday, November 08, 2007

War In Afghanistan 2007 Week 45

For a brief, shining moment the mainstream media was excited about the fighting in Afghanistan. You could hear it in their voices on TV and sense it in their written words.

Taliban forces were sweeping through the northern approach to Kandahar City, outsmarting the Canadian and Afghan troops who were tied up protecting the southern and eastern access routes. It was surely Tet all over again.

But a day later...poof. The same dull tones returned to the news from Afghanistan. Canadian and Afghan forces had routed the Taliban without breaking a sweat, killing, wounding and capturing a third or more of the attackers and sending the rest running for their lives. Phooey.

Among the worst offenders was Graeme Smith of the Globe and Mail.

"The Taliban have opened a new front in their push toward Kandahar city, invading a previously secure district and holding parts of their freshly gained territory in a bloody seige that continued into the night." he wrote.

Well, it was sort of accurate. Note the carefully crafted buzz words. "New front." "Invading" "Previously secure" "Freshly gained." "Bloody seige."

As it turned out, a force estimated between 150 and 300 Taliban, scared lightly-armed police from a few checkpoints in Arghandab district and swept through a village that had been home to a highly regarded tribal leader who supported NATO forces in the region.

The "bloody seige" was them being killed by the dozens.

Reporters grasped at any slender reed they could to retain credibilty. Sure, the Taliban didn't capture Kandahar, but those wily fighters outwitted the Canadian forces by sneaking away to fight again. Just look, wrote one, at the small number of captured enemy fighters, eight.

"There are a lot of wild stories going on here. Some people say there are 250 Taliban and others say it is 1500..." an aid worker told CP. Maybe, just maybe, there weren't all that many Taliban to escape.

A couple of days later, the Globe reported that it looked like the Taliban hadn't actually intended on sweeping through to Kandahar City. More likely, they wanted to show the flag and maybe search for hidden weapons in the village they overan.

Maybe even shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles from the war against the Russians in the 80's. It made for a great story except that the villagers said there never had been a stash of weapons. And the fragile electronics on 20-year-old Stinger missiles might not be so good any more."

But the view from afar can only be one of confidence being displaced by doubt at our military success if settlement so close to the south's major city are this Taliban-vulnerable," wailed National Post writer Don Martin. Never one to give up the slightest chance of defeat, he added "Military brass at the Kandahar Airfield were spinning victory from the troubling scenario after the Taliban were routed by heavy fire, apparently fleeing farther north."

Yes, that's right. We have to "spin victory" after routing the enemy, imposing heavy casualties, taking none ourselves and only one soldier and three police officers for our Afghan allies, keeping the Taliban far from the "south's major city" and sending the message loud and clear: we're here and we're staying.

Somehow these journalists overlooked the fact that when fighting broke out, the people ran for help to the Canadians. They didn't stick around to help the Taliban. They've chosen which side they're on.

It appears that many in the Press have as well.

The MSM had their own second front this past week, too. General Rick Hillier said it will take at least a decade until Afghanistan has a fully trained military which can handle security in the country without major U.S. and NATO help.

The usual suspects, starting with the Toronto Star, the CBC and the Globe and Mail, pounced at once. Wasn't Hillier contradicting Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government since the Speech from the Throne said Afghans will be able to defend their sovereignty by 2011?

The Globe seized the torch and ran with it, reporting major division between Hillier and the government.

"Tone it down, Ottawa tells top soldier 'Marching orders' issued over Hillier's controversial remarks"
BRIAN LAGHI ,OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF, With a report from Alan Freeman
November 1, 2007

Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff, Rick Hillier, has been told to tone down his political interventions after he spoke out last week on the direction of the Afghanistan military mission, sources have told The Globe and Mail.

It sure sounded informative, until you actually read the story and discovered that the "sources" turned out to be, count 'em, one unidentified person in an undisclosed position who may or may not know a thing.

No problem. The Globe even ran a follow-up story reporting the Opposition had slammed the Conservatives for "trying to muzzle" Hillier.

"Mr. Robillard (Liberal MP Lucienne Robillard...ed) was commenting on a Globe and Mail story that Gen. Hillier was told to refrain from stepping into the polical realm..." wrote Brian Laghi.

Told by whom? Why, the single unidentified "source." Journalism at its best in Canada.

And the alleged division? The coalition of U.S. and NATO forces is well on its way to training enough Afghan soldiers to take over security in Kandahar province, where Canadian troops are stationed. Two Afghan National Army battalions of 500-600 men are already operating in Kandahar and gaining experience by the day. Remember, Canada's fighting force in Afghanistan is only about 1100 soldiers, with the rest of the 2500 personnel in support. Training an army of 70,000 will take longer.

The quality of the ANA has been highly criticized in the reporting from Afghanistan. The quick and effective reaction to the Arghandab incursion showed how the Afghan army has matured.

"This was one of the first truly joint operations between Canadian and Afghan forces operating together as equal partners," said Lt. Commander Pierre Babinsky, spokesman for international troops in Kandahar Province. The Taliban forces were thrown out on their ears by 350 ANA troops with Canadian mentors, 200 Afghan police with American mentors and 300 Canadian soldiers. Local residents complained to reporters that Afghan troops had to do all the fighting because there weren't enough coaltion troops. And they obviously did a good job.

Army Lt. Col. Karl Slaughenhaupt is senior advisor to 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps, of the Afghan National Army. His team supports ANA troops as they patrol Zabul province, through which runs the Kabul-to-Kandahar highway

."The ANA on more than one occasion demonstrated incredible tenacity by rallying back after being ambushed and inflicting heavy losses on the enemy by fire and maneuver," he said. "Bottom line: that when the ANA gets in a fight, they win." he told the American Forces Press Service.

He described a recent week-long operation which foiled a Taliban attack on a forward operating base.

"Afghan soldiers tracked nearly 100 Taliban fighters as they approached the coalition base, the colonel explained. They then pinned down the enemy in rugged terrain, blocking any chance of escape. U.S. commanders verified insurgent' position using an unmanned aerial vehicle then called in airstrikes by two F-15 fighter jets, Slaughenhaupt said. Meanwhile, U.S. and Romania ground forces, Afghan National Police officers, coalition special operations teams, as well as provincial reconstruction, civil affairs and medical teams, rushed in to assist, he said.

"This is a great example of full-spectrum, counterinsurgent operations, combining kinetic and non-kinetic operations to simultaneously defeat the insurgents while reaching out to the Afghan people," he said. "This is a decisive victory in what has been traditionally considered an insurgent safe haven."

Afghan National Army Defeats Taliban in Key Southern Province,
American Forces Press Service David Mays, 11/02/2007

In search of something positive, the Taliban this week were trumpeting the taking control of three districts in Farah province in the west of Afghanistan. Control, though, turns out to be a slippery term.

On Sunday they announced they had taken the Khaki Safed district of Farah. A closer look at the details told a different story. The insurgents in about 40 trucks chased the police away at 1:30 A.M A couple of hours later, at 3:30 a.m. when Afghan forces arrived, the Taliban were gone.

They do still apparently hold the Bakwa and Gulistan districts in Farah province which they took without a fight last week. Even then, an examination of the situation suggests some interesting angles.

Gulistan is close to Musa Qala, a district of Helmand province next door, which the Taliban overran in February and have held as a base ever since. U.S.-led troops have been conducting reconnaissance missions and ambushes in Musa Qala district for weeks now, suggesting that the taking of Gulistan is an attempt to take some of the heat off the defenders in Musa Qala.

Farah is on the border with Iran and Farah provincial police chief Abdulrahman Sarjang said there were "many" Iranians and Pakistanis fighting among the Afghan Taliban.

And, maybe most tellingly, locals in the two districts of Farah overrun by the Taliban have complained that NATO is no helping Afghan forces retake the territory. Farah province is under command of the Italians who, like the troops from most European countries, are unwilling to fight, thereby giving the insurgents free reign until the Americans come calling.

Otherwise the week has been a bleak recitation of same old, same old.

- Four Taliban killed in a firefight in Badghis province in the far northwest of the country.
- Four police killed in Ghazni province by an IED.25 Taliban killed in a major operation in Uruzgan province.
- A suicide bomber blew himself up in Paktika province. Nobody could figure out what his target was. There were no coalition troops or convoys. The only injuries were to four taxi drivers.
- A Dutch soldier was killed by an IED in Uruzgan.
- Three police died in an IED blast in Nangarhar province.20 Taliban were killed by NATO planes in Badghis province.

And a suicide bomber walked up to a delegation of visiting lawmakers in the town of New Baghlan, in northern Afghanistan's Baglan province. The explosion killed at least 26, including six members of Afghanistan's parliament.

"Most of those killed are elders who gathered to welcome these parliamentarians in front of the factory, and schoolchildren, and especially children who were there to sing," said Commander Kamin, a police officer.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Free Press accidentally exposes the sham of Judicial Inquiries

Ouch...Hot. Hot. Hot.

That's what you get for grabbing a smoking gun.

The words "judicial inquiry" entered everybody's vocabulary this week as the province roiled over the controversial prosecution of a police officer responsible for a woman's death in a car crash.

So it wasn't unexpected to see a column about judicial inquiries by Winnipeg Free Press reporter/columnist Dan Lett. ("Inquiry could show inner workings of justice system", Oct. 31, 2007)

But what he wrote had us falling out of our chairs in surprise.

The Black Rod has written about previous judicial inquiries, namely those into the murder convictions of Tom Sophonow and James Driskell. We pointed out that the mainstream media always fails to explain that these were not independent, unbiased examinations of what led to the convictions of the pair; they were the modern equivalent of show trials, where the verdict is determined first and the evidence supporting the verdict is presented in a charade of an inquiry.

Imagine our shock to see Dan Lett verify everything we believed, in spades.

"Although inquiries are intended to be objective, definitive examinations of a miscarriage of justice, their mandate is vulnerable to influence by the affected parties. In the case of the recent inquiry into the wrongful conviction of James Driskell, counsel for Driskell negotiated the mandate directly with the deputy justice minister. Those discussions resulted in the final format of the inquiry."

And there was more...

"Many times, it's at this early stage that decisions are made about who will (or won't) be on a witness list, what questions will (or won't) be asked and what issues will (or won't) be tackled."

So, according to Lett, the Driskell camp held secret, backroom negotiations with government representatives over the process of an inquiry that targetted specific police and prosecutors.

Do you call that justice?

And now we have an explanation for the absence of crucial witnesses like Ashif Madatili Kara (Another missing piece of Driskell Inquiry puzzle; Black Rod, Feb. 9, 2007)

We wrote:

"Kara was a witness for the prosecution at Driskell's trial for murder in June, 1991. On the stand he testified that Winnipeg City detectives threatened him, intimidated him, wrote up a phony statement and forced him to sign it without reading it. He also testified that in a private conversation James Driskell told him he was furious at Dean Harder for "ratting on him."

"I want to get even with that guy. I'm going to kill him."Kara was not called to the Driskell Judicial Inquiry.

Neither was Ray Zanidean, the chief witness against Driskell at trial and the person the commission needed to discredit the most.Driskell's attorney was free to attack Zanidean at every turn without concern that Zanidean could respond, or at least have an attorney present to protect his rights.

The NDP has rewritten the definition of fairness.

Somehow we suspect that counsel for Derek Harvey-Zenk will not be given a chance to negotiate the mandate of the public inquiry into his prosecution, and he will not get to infuence who will be called as a witness.

Is that's the case, then it means Manitoba has two kinds of judicial inquiry---one for people the government favours and one for people it doesn't.

What's wrong with this picture?

The Axworthy Effect is spreading.

We've noted how the number of incidents of threats to schools mushroomed after Lloyd Axworthy's ill-advised news conference following the discovery of a still-undiscosed message on the wall of a washroom at the University of Winnipeg.

Our correspondents tell us we can add schools outside the Perimeter to the list of copycat threats.


Regarding your November 1st story on The Black Rod, I thought it may interest you to note that the so-called "Axworthy Effect" has also made its way to my city, Steinbach, Manitoba.

Our local high school, the Steinbach Regional Secondary School (aka: SRSS) has been evacuated at least 3 times within the past two weeks, dues to threats similar to the ones at the University of Winnipeg. Additionally, a school in the nearby small town of Landmark, Manitoba, was also evacuated within the past week, also due to a threat found in the restroom at the school.

Here are some sources, in case you'd like some more information regarding these incidents...

2007-10-30, Steinbach Regional Students Back To Class:

2007-10-26, Threat At School In Landmark:

2007-10-24, Hanover School Evacuated:,

Steinbach Regional Evacuated:

Steinbach Online's Home Page:

It certainly is interesting to watch how wide-spread this problem is becoming after gaining media attention.

The little hoodlums nowadays don't even need any creativity to commit their crimes... they simply copy whatever seems to be the latest fad from the news! I'm also amused at the various school's attempts to show that they are doing something about the situation. As you so rightly noted in your article, speculation is endless.

Anyway, I'd also like to say how much I enjoy reading your Black Rod columns. My only wish is that you could post more frequently than you do!

Keep up the great work,

Name withheld

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The 12 Steps Update and Feedback

It was two weeks ago that The Black Rod rose to the challenge of Ron Evans, Grand Chief of the Manitoba Association of Chiefs. If natives are to blame for social ills, he said, he would welcome help to fix the problems.

What he had in mind was a "roundtable" with, of course, all levels of government. Lots of talk, coverage on the television news, and a declaration or statement at the end. Then it's off to the casino for a little r 'n r.

We said waitaminit.
Why waste time and money?

Everyone already knows the problems and the answers. And we offered Ron Evans our 12 Step Program ( ). FOR FREE.

Sadly, we have to report it doesn't appear the AMC wants to change its ways.

Within days Ron Evans was in the news again, signing on to A NEW STUDY of aboriginal life in Winnipeg. And it will lead to A NEW REPORT.

The AMC and a Winnipeg think tank, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, would like the report out next May. Once they find the $100,000 it's going to cost.

Our consolation was in the flood of emails we got,and comments on fellow blog Small Dead Animals, which linked to our story, some of which we'll share with our readers:

A) Yahooooooo
When I read your article on the Manitoba Indians I thought I had died and gone to Heaven, man oh man finally somebody had the balls to speak out. This problem has been getting bigger and bigger every year yet our fine politicians, judges, social services, police chiefs etc etc have sat back on the gutless assess (sic) for years.

Please, please get over to Saskatchewan and see the exact same situation over there only worse. Keep writing and telling it like it is, but also be very careful.

This is the first time in my 45 years of adult life that I have seen and read the truth about native people. The first 15 years I thought all people like me were raised in honest loving homes, how naive. Keep up the excellent work.

B) Fantastic. Well done. Kudos. Thank you for saying very well things that most of us would like to say but cannot find the words, or string them together properly.

C) Bravo. Not politically correct, but the public does not want 'politically correct" anymore.

D) Wow, that's the most explosive yet sober and accurate commentary on aboriginal affairs I've ever read; kudos to you!

I suspect the pushback you're going to get if any of the native leaders actually read your blog will be unprecedented. Please make sure to let us know.


Memo to the Grand Chief was linked by Small Dead Animals and here's a sampling of the posts that appeared on the comment page.

Read it all at:

1) As a ex-Winnipegger, let me echo this...
"It's not because of racism, it's not because your daddy went to a residential school, and it's not because you're poor. It's because you're stupid."
Posted by: T...
(Read Memo to the Grand Chief for the context of the quote...ed)

2) Two thumbs way up. The quote given by T... should be a quote of the month or year.The whole thing should be published in the G&M, Star and NP.
Posted by: M.P.

3) Absolutely the best 12 step for Indians that one could possibly come up with. Kudos.That post should be read by every Indian and every politician in Canada.
Posted by: J.W.

4) It's tough to read, but I am glad he wrote it. Every single word the unabashed truth. So rare! It's saddening to know he will be hated by most for just writing it.
Posted by: D.M.


And this we received via email:

Why do you hide behind the name black rod?
Why don't you identify who you really are; what are you afraid of?
A person should be willing to give their real name when writing stories about the kind of things you do.

The use of pseudonyms is a social convention of the Blogosphere where rules for the new journalism and citizen reporters is still evolving.

We are simply following a long tradition of Manitoba journalism where dispatches from "Justicia" kept newspaper readers in Toronto aware of what was happening during the Riel Rebellion, and "Nor-Wester" and "Riviere Rouge" stirred up the letters pages of Montreal newspapers.

BTW, there's a radio show on CJOB by a guy who calls himself Charles Adler. Did you know that's NOT his real name? Go get 'em tiger.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lack of success doesn't deter Lloyd, Glen or Brad

You can blame the Law of Unintended Consequences or you can call it an extreme example of bad judgement, but Lloyd Axworthy has a lot to answer for.

Ever since his grandstanding performance in September as the Great Defender of the University of Winnipeg from scrawls on bathroom walls, there's been an unprecedented spike in threats written on bathroom wall at Winnipeg schools.

And it appears the Axworthy Effect has spread to other cities in Canada.

On Sept. 20 Axworthy, President of the U of W, announced with great fanfare that a threat (of an undisclosed nature) had been written on the wall of a toilet in the university which apparently included "a threat of an occurrence on the morning of Weds, Sept. 26."

Police flooded the university, keeping watch for a week, even as police spokesmen claimed that they couldn't find a single extra police officer to patrol high-crime neighbourhoods where shootings and stabbings were a daily occurence. Sham searches of students' bags and backpacks were held for the television cameras to show the heightened security.

Axworthy declared he couldn't be pushed around. He wouldn't bow to scare tactics. That's why more than 25 percent of classes were cancelled on Sept. 26 and he managed to scare away between 30 and 50 percent of students from the university that day.

It might only be graffitti, he said, but you can't be too careful.

He sure set the example.

In the next month approximately 20 copycat threats have been discovered at schools throughout Winnipeg, particularly, say students, on Thursdays so that the scrawlers can get the Friday off. The mania got so bad that schools banned Halloween costumes because toilet scrawls said something bad would happen Oct. 31. And you just know that's not the end of it.

But then this past weekend the National Post carried a story about prank 911 calls that have led to lockdowns at 30 Ottawa schools. They started Sept. 21, the very day after Axworthy's news conference got national coverage. What a coincidence!

But, but, but...

What if the threat was real? Wasn't Lloyd being prudent and taking reasonable precautions? Weren't school principals acting reasonably?

That's a stupid argument.

What if Freddy Kruger really intended to attack the day AFTER the date scrawled on the wall when the police were called off?

What if he was going to attack another school as police resources were tied up at the U of W?

What if, what if, what if... Speculation is endless.

If you're truly concerned about a school shooting, then educators have to learn the lessons of previous shootings.

And the tragic example of Dawson College, Virginia Tech and Columbine teaches us that the surest way to prevent a massacre is for someone with a gun to confront the armed intruder as soon as possible, and to put a bullet or more into him without delay.

If you're serious about stopping a school shooting---arm the teachers and security staff.

Anything less is showboating.


Former Mayor Glen Murray is coming back to town to make a couple of speeches--the first at a conference sponsored by the Plug-In Gallery on visual art and the second at the Laurier Club, which the Hill Times calls the Liberal Party's "elite donor club."

Murray, who quit as Winnipeg's mayor mid-term, leaving behind a raft of unfinished projects, now styles himself as an "urban visionary" who flits from city to city spreading his wisdom into how cities should be run.

Freed of the constraints of voter approval and budgets, Little Glen lets his inner visionary loose on all and sundry.

Speaking at a recent conference in Missassagua, Murray advised the city fathers on public transit.

"Why not sky trains? Why not gondolas?" asked Murray. "My God, this would be fun, and you'd have a spectacular view. It would be a lot sexier than riding the bus and would knock down some of those class barriers of riding the bus."

And as for the age-old problem of streets and traffic...

"I think congestion is a great thing in a downtown," he said. "All great cities have terrible transportation systems in their cores." Force people to get out of their cars and walk or use the bus, he gushed. Or the gondola.

Murray has only contempt for politicians who concentrate on the 3 P's---police, potholes and pipes. You know, the stuff taxpayers want their money spent on.

At the Amazing Possibilities Conference in Guelph last year Murray lamented how his popularity dropped when he had his epiphany and began promoting a doubling of arts funding, "cultural renewal" and "creative economy" to "retain and attract creative people who drive the knowledge economy."

" 'Open for business.' When you hear that in your city plan start crying." he said.

Murray had the gall to cite the new Provencher footbridge as one of his successes. "But this is a bridge you can walk on, drink martinis on, have a meal on. It's the first inhabited bridge built in the world since 1770, the first of the public works as public art.

It appears on every postcard that the politicians who came after me send out. It is the new photo op. No one complains about the cost anymore. Can anyone guess why?

It makes money. It's the only bridge that we don't have to go to the taxpayer to raise taxes to fix, to remove stone, to repair, to do anything on because that restaurant made more money in the first three months - because there was no parking and who's so stupid to put a restaurant in the middle of a bridge? Who's going to walk that far? Everyone loves to walk there and it's been a huge success."

Reality check:
The bridge was six million dollars over budget.
Murray wanted a fancy French restaurant with a chef from Gay Paree to move in.

Instead, the location sat empty for a year -- until Mayor Sam Katz got involved and made a deal with Salisbury House, a deal castigated by every hoity-toity publicly-funded organization in St. Boniface.

Success? It was certainly not Glennie's.As for the postcards...simple.

Murder Capital of Canada is not exactly what you want on your tourist material.

Funny how Murray avoids his real legacy to Winnipeg.


For the record ...

Brad Pitt's movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, partly shot in Winnipeg, is a certified BOMB.

The $30 million movie, highly acclaimed by critics, has grossed only $2.8 million in six weeks of release.

Entertainment Weekly said that some days the temperature in Winnipeg (during shooting in October, 2005) "plunged to -13."

"That's like throw-a-cup-of-coffee-in-the-air-and-it-freezes-before-it-hits-the-ground cold," said director Andrew Dominik.