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:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Labeled a perjurer by NDP, Zanidean cleared by Regina police

The NDP government's manipulation of the justice system for political purposes has reached disturbing levels.

The latest example is the belated revelation of the results of a police investigation into high-level allegations of perjury by key prosecution witness Ray Zanidean at the trial of James Driskell for the murder of Perry Dean Harder.

When the federal justice minister ordered a new trial for Driskell in 2005 he said it was, in part, because " For 11 years after Mr. Driskell's trial, the Crown failed to disclose information that Mr. Zanidean likely committed perjury at the trial."

The same day, Manitoba's then-Attorney General Gord Mackintosh announced the government would stay charges, instead of holding a new trial, in part because, as a letter from his office stated:

"There is a basis to believe that Zanidean may have committed perjury at the first trial in at least two areas. For that reason the issue of possible perjury will be referred to an outside police agency for further investigation and a prosecutor from outside Manitoba will be retained to provide advice to them."

Well, it turns out the results of that "further investigation" have been known to the government for months but have been kept secret.


Because the investigation determined THERE WAS NO PERJURY.

The investigation by Regina city police, concluded -- and a Winnipeg special prosecutor concured -- that there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell of successfully prosecuting Ray Zanidean for perjury despite the impression left by the federal and provincial justice departments.

You can bet the lynch mob will continue to perpetuate the myth by using the weasel word "likely" committed perjury, even if it can't be proven.

Of course they'll scream, uh, bloody murder if anyone says Driskell "likely" committed murder even if that can't be proven either, despite the fact there's more support for that proposition. After all, the evidence against Driskell was presented to a jury which convicted him beyond a reasonable doubt, while Zanidean has never even been charged, has undergone cross-examination under oath on his statements, and has withstood two year's worth of police investigation.

The fact that authorities cannot substantiate the claim of perjury comes as no surprise. More than a year ago The Black Rod predicted the outcome of the investigation simply by examining the evidence from the show trial (aka the Driskell inquiry) of the police and prosecutors who compiled the evidence to convict Driskell. See for yourself at:

The NDP knew it in 2005 when they announced with great fanfare that Zanidean would be investigated. They knew it in 2006, before the phoney investigation into Driskell's conviction, when they announced, with faux embarassment, that the investigation wasn't yet completed; in fact it hadn't even started due to come sort of (snicker) "miscommunication".

But it's clear now that the "miscommunication" was designed to delay any investigation in case the results were what they turned out to be.

Instead, the Driskell "Inquiry" was allowed to proceed, with the lawyers given free reign to accuse Zanidean of perjury on the record without fear of contradiction.

Zanidean, by the way, was not given the chance to challenge the lawyers because inquiry counsel Michael Code said everybody knew what he was going to say and he was a liar anyway.

The NDP says they have to keep the police investigation secret to protect the reputation of an innocent man.

Yeah, after they allowed him to be slandered daily at the Driskell inquiry.

Shamefully, the NDP had no such concerns about the slander of others at the inquiry.

The Winnipeg Free Press went so far as to fabricate a quotation, allegedly from the inquiry, to support a story slandering former crown prosecutor George Dangerfield for condoning the non-existent perjury. See the details at:

The Winnipeg Free Press, wouldn't you know it, hasn't published a word on the update of the perjury investigation.

The FP did, on the other hand, publish another not-altogether accurate story on the justice system featuring none other than former Justice Minister Gord Macintosh.

"Youth act made even worse, say ministers," read the headline over the story by the FP's new Ottawa reporter Mia Rabson. She wrote:

"A federal bill amending the Youth Criminal Justice Act makes an already bad piece of legislation even worse, provincial justice ministers said in Ottawa Friday."

Somebody should review basic grammar with Little Mia, particularly the distinction between singular and plural. While she and the headline writer cited "ministers", only one minister made an appearance in the story, Huff 'n' Puff himself, doing what he does best, blaming Ottawa for his failures.

Macintosh, representing current Justice Minister Dave Chomiak, declared the Conservatives were sticking it to Manitoba, particularly after a much-touted all-party-and-then-some delegation went to Ottawa last September with a list of the changes they wanted to see in the act.

"This is the first legislative expression on youth crime from the Conservative government and it's a troublesome signal," he said.

"Not only does the bill not reflect what was asked, it some ways it makes it worse," said Macintosh.

His beef?
Apparently, it's these proposed amendments adding to when a judge can deny bail:

· when the young person is charged with committing an offence that endangered the public by creating a substantial likelihood of serious bodily harm to another person;

· when there is a substantial likelihood that the young person will, if released from custody, commit a violent offence or an offence that otherwise endangers the public by creating a substantial likelihood of serious bodily harm to another person.

Macintosh says that linking bail to a "substantial" "likelihood" of "serious" "bodily harm" creates too many hurdles for the Crown to meet.

And he's right.

The Manitoba delegation wanted to see tougher bail laws particularly to corral car thieves. Theft of an automobile is not considered a violent offence in federal law and the proposed amendments will have no effect on the young criminals Manitoba wants most to see off the streets.

What was missing , though, is where the proposed amendments reflect exactly what the Manitoba delegation wanted.

"Clause 2 of the bill, by amending subsection 38(2) of the YCJA, adds the following two principles of sentencing:
· denouncing unlawful conduct; and deterring the young person, and other young people, from breaking the law."

There's a very good reason why Macintosh wants to deflect attention from the major amendments to the Youth Justice Act which topped the list of changes wanted by Manitoba.

You see, the federal NDP is foresquare against them.

When the Supreme Court ruled, in a Manitoba case, that deterrence cannot be considered in sentencing young offenders, federal NDP justice critic Joe Comartin crowed victory.

Youth crime bill pushes deterrence
Nov 20, 2007 04:30 AM
Tonda MacCharles
Ottawa Bureau


It reintroduces as a sentencing principle for judges the idea of general deterrence and denunciation. This comes more than a year after the Supreme Court of Canada found it was not a valid consideration for judges under the revamped act. The high court noted there is "much controversy" over the concept, and said Parliament had already made the "policy choice" to take "general deterrence" or denunciation out of the mix for sentencing young people.

It also makes it easier for a judge to deny pre-trial bail to an accused young person. A judge may consider "any pending charges," whether the charges are for a serious violent crime, and if the person is a repeat young offender, has a history of breaching release orders, or is a risk to cause "serious bodily harm" to another person.

Mackinnon said the provision puts "too much of the decision-making back in the hands of police officers" because it encourages officers who want to ensure a youth is jailed to jack up the number of charges they lay in an incident.

NDP justice critic Joe Comartin (Windsor-Tecumseh) said the measure is "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."

and he elaborated further:

Monday, November 19, 2007 7:53 PM ET

MP Joe Comartin, the NDP's justice critic, told the CBC's Politics, a nightly political interview show based in Ottawa, that he was skeptical of the proposed changes.

"Denunciation doesn't work," he said. "We know that from any number of studies done around the globe."

Deterrence is not a principle that's viable either, he said, adding that if the Tories really wanted to do something, they'd be looking at prevention, putting more police officers on the streets and more programs in place.

Think he's changed his mind ?

We learned just this past week that when the Manitoba delegation went to Ottawa it met with federal NDP leader Jack Layton---and Joe Comartin.

How Comartin must have laughed up his sleeve to listen to the Manitoba bumpkins pitch adding deterrence to the sentencing guidelines for youth.

There's talk of a federal election soon, and Macintosh knows the federal NDP will be painted as soft on crime, particularly in Manitoba, when they fight, as they will, to keep deterrence out of the young offenders act. So he's tried to turn the blame on the Conservatives to give the federal NDP a cover for opposing changes to the YCJA.

Macintosh and his Manitoba NDP colleagues are willing to sacrifice the very amendments they claimed to want, for the success of their federal cousins.

Or, as we said, manipulating the justice system for political purposes.

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