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:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Forget Crocus. Now its about S-E-X

Is a sex scandal about to engulf Manitoba premier Gary Doer?

That's one sentence we never imagined we would be writing.

But there it is. And the teflon premier has only his handpicked Minister for Healthy Living to thank.

It all started a week ago with a puff piece in the Winnipeg Free Press about Kerri Irvin-Ross and her amazing weight loss. She had, she said, lost 75 pounds and she was a new woman. "I walk taller." (Cue Burton Cummings music.)

Readers didn't know whether to be more shocked that the five-foot-eleven Irvin-Ross admitted to being 75 pounds overweight or to the surprise revelation deep in the story that her 17-year marriage had ended. And ended badly, according to official documents.

It turns out that Irvin-Ross was watching her marriage disintegrate even as she campaigned for re-election during the 2007 provincial election. Between knocking on doors, Irvin-Ross filed for a protection order against her husband five days before the election. (It was denied.)

And she told the court her husband called her bad names. Names like slut and whore, which, according to independent observers a.k.a. other women, address behaviour rather than character issues.

But behaviour with whom? Her husband never responded to her allegations in court filings. So it's left to the Legislature grapevine to offer up answers to the question.

One name is already leading the pack.

WFP healthy living columnist Shamona Harnett may have provided a clue with this odd side-note in her story:

"Within a year or so she managed to lose 50 pounds. (Irvin-Ross says rumours that someone in the premier's office asked her to lose weight are unfounded.)"

A rumour that "someone in the premier's office" is concerned about a cabinet minister's weight ? You don't say.

Kerri Irvin-Ross was appointed to be Healthy Living Minister in September, 2006 (not 2005 as the Free Press story said).

She was already losing weight, she told the FP, and she continued to sweat off the pounds in a 2007 Winnipeg Sun contest.

Would one of the NDP's strong women in cabinet be so shallow as to care that much about her public appearance? Damn right if there was a new man involved.

As usual, the question is what does it matter if a public official, or two, are having extramarital affairs? (Is it extra-extramarital if both parties are married?)

Bill Clinton wasn't impeached for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky; he was impeached for lying under oath about his adultery. It's called perjury.
New York Governor Elliot Spitzer resigned over his involvement with a call-girl, but not because of the sex; because he spent taxpayer's money to facilitate his sex sessions. Bad boy.

Which raises the question in Manitoba, was public money used to bring boy and girl closer together? Did certain people travel together on the public dime? Were all those conferences necessary, or convenient?

Will this be only a dog-days of summer flash in the pan? Or has a fuse been lit which will burn all the way into the next session of the Legislature?

This is Manitoba. Forget about unwashed blue dresses. Follow the receipts.

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