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:

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Black Rod federal election wrap-up


Like you, we've spent the past few days reading election stories on the internet. We've appreciated the comic relief.

Election coverage in Winnipeg was the worst in living memory. In place of examining issues or, at the least, trying to reflect the mood of the electorate in various ridings, the primary election news source, theWinnipeg Free Press, devoted its space to its own faux-polls, which were nothing more than internet surveys of a tiny sampling of readers of the newspaper. This is what passes as journalism today.

The post-election analyis across the Web has at least been amusing. And, if you search hard enough, informative.

With the Free Press on strike, we'll pick up the slack and give you highlights.

The Conservatives won the most seats, but now they have to compromise.

Say what? Yes, this was a popular theme of stories on the day-after.

It's still minority, opponents warn
Don't rule with same attitude, including using non-confidence motions, Harper told

Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, October 16, 2008

Opponents said Wednesday they would work with Prime Minister Stephen's Harper's minority government, especially on the economy.
However, they also warned a minority is a minority and they expect Harper to compromise.


New Democratic leader Jack Layton, whose party added seven seats for a total of 37, said Wednesday that Harper must abandon the "my way or the highway" tactic and be more flexible.

"I think he should realize that far more Canadians voted against his government than voted for it. He should respect Parliament and respect the results of the election and we'll proceed in the recognition of that fact," Layton said in Toronto.

Layton did not highlight specific elements of the Conservative agenda that should be changed to make the new Parliament work, but acknowledged the NDP's positions are well known on controversial issues such as Harper's plan to toughen youth criminal justice legislation.

Bloc leader expects more compromise from PM
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 1:33 PM ET
CBC News

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe says Tuesday night's election results mean Stephen Harper will have to compromise more with the opposition parties, and he also says the prime minister should respect his own fixed-date election law by waiting four years before calling another vote.

The Bloc won 50 of Quebec's 75 federal seats. "That's the reality. It's been six consecutive times that we've had a majority. I don't think there's another party that can claim that," Duceppe told a news conference Wednesday morning.

Duceppe said Harper will have to compromise with the Bloc and the other opposition parties to reach agreements on policy.
That means softening on unpopular promises, such as beefing up the Criminal Code to crack down on young offenders, Duceppe said.

The Toronto Star
EDITORIAL Federal Election
PM must work with other parties

Oct 15, 2008 04:30 AM
Now that the voters have spoken and elected a minority Parliament, it behooves the leaders of all parties to drop the partisan political games and work together to solve Canada's problems.


To push a governmental agenda through the minority Parliament will require compromise and negotiation with the opposition parties.

Get it? The Conservatives won the election, so now they have to compromise with the losers.

The Bloc Quebecois wants to break up the country and Canada has to compromise with them? In what alternate universe?

Taliban Jack Layton is so deluded about his importance that he wants to sit at the big-folks table. Prime Minister Stephen Harper should hold meetings with all the party leaders and give them briefings on government policies, he's declared.

The last person convinced of his own brilliance was Layton's very own right-hand, none other than celebrity thief Svend Robinson, who admitted to the judge about to sentence him that he was certifiably nuts throughout his political career. Layton just hasn't confronted his own truth yet.

The Liberals and the NDP reached out to the extreme fringes of the lunatic fringe for support. Former Liberal leader Stephane Dion (c'mon, face facts) at least had the guts to dump his 9/11 nutbar candidate once her conspiracy beliefs were revealed, but Layton publically endorsed his 9/11 supporters. The NDP's electing some MP's doesn't somehow make their supporters' batshit crazy views less batshit crazy. And it especially does NOT give him any moral authority to insist the Conservatives must compromise with people who share or give support to these insane conspiracy theories.

The opposite is true. The losers must compromise with the winner. Their visions and platforms were rejected by the electorate. The winning party has a mandate to govern and to pass the legislation it ran on. If you're willing to have another election immediately to clarify that principle, vote against the legislation and bring down the government.

If Dion has to quit, shouldn't Stephen Harper have to resign, too? He can't win a majority.

This one is especially rich. You have to wonder how stupid television interviewers feel having to ask pundits this question. But, for the stupid, let's spell it out...

1) Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada.

2) He led his party into government for the second time in a row, with a stronger vote of confidence from the voting public.

3) He's shattered the Opposition. The Liberals are broke, leaderless and demoralized. And that's the good news. They're about to spend more money they don't have to tear the party apart as they pick a new leader who will have to prepare a new election platform that repudiates the last Liberal leader and Liberal campaign.

4) Harper hasn't got a majority, but the next two parties together can't cobble together a majority either.

Yep, what a loser.
It's a crisis. The voter turnout was the worst ever.

Doesn't anybody bother to look at the facts anymore?

According to Elections Canada, there were 990,641 fewer votes cast for the major parties this election than last.

But pay close attention to the following:

Support for the Liberal Party of Canada dropped by almost 850,000 votes.

That's 85.7 percent of the missing voters

There's no crisis. Liberal voters sat this one out. They couldn't stomach Stephane Dion and/or his Green Shift taxes. That's the simple story you're not hearing anywhere.

For the record, in the federal election of 2008 compared to the election of 2006:

The Conservatives lost 168,737 votes.
The NDP lost 75,522 votes.
The Bloc lost 173,636 votes.
The Green Party gained 276,679 votes.

Now you tell us.
Election coverage in Winnipeg may have been particularly abysmal, but what do you call non-coverage?

In the days following the election, we're learning about all sorts of things that were never reported during the campaign.

Did you catch the network election reporter who casually mentioned that Stephene Dion would call Stephen Harper a liar "eight or nine times" in every speech he gave? Funny how none of the big-name reporters mentioned that in their stories.

But remember how many times you heard that Harper was running a negative campaign, that he was mean, that the Conservatives were turning voters off with their personal attacks? Uh, huh.

And what about this gem that showed up in a National Post story:

"Ipsos Reid survey last month revealed that almost two-thirds of respondents viewed Liberals as dishonest; 80% deemed them stale; 63% thought them phony; and 66% perceived them "out of touch with Canadians like you." By the time Tuesday night's numbers rolled in, their popularity finished at an all-time low."

Never heard about this Ipsos Reid survey before did you? Who knew about it and held it back from the press. Goodness knows the newspapers lived on polls during this election.

The Separatists are back as strong as ever.


The Separatists lost 173,600 votes in Quebec, more than the Conservative lost in the entire country.

The Bloc won only 38 percent of the popular vote in Quebec. In 2006 they had 42 percent. And way, way back in 2004 they had 49 percent.

Choose Your Canada

Remember when Paul Martin criss-crossed Canada bellowing "Choose your Canada"? The election of 2004 was all about values, Martin said. Canadian--read Liberal---values were being threatened by the American-style Conservatives.

You know which set of values won.

There was less talk about a contest of values this time around, but it was still there, particularly from the losers like Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh.

"The vast majority of Canadians philosophically are small 'l' liberals. I think we need to go back to those roots and those values and rebuild that coalition." said Dosanjh the day after the election.

Dosanjh just couldn't understand why voters rejected the Liberal values.

Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason wrote, after talking with Dosanjh:

"Many believe he was hurt by the Liberals' support of Insite, the controversial safe-injection site in the Downtown Eastside. It's widely accepted that the Lower Mainland's Chinese population philosophically opposes Insite, a sentiment that has benefited the Conservatives, who want it shut down.

"I don't think that was a big issue," Mr. Dosanjh said. "It was no different in 2006 and I won by a large margin then."

Of course, that was when Dosanjh thought he had won by 700 votes.

Things changed quite a bit in 24 hours.

Recount ordered for Dosanjh's Vancouver South riding
Source: CBC News Posted: 10/16/08

Elections Canada has ordered a judicial recount of votes in the riding of Vancouver South, where incumbent Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh won a close race on Tuesday's federal election.
When electoral officials validated the results on Wednesday, the difference between the two leading candidates was officially 33 votes, less than one one-thousandth of the 42,076 ballots cast, an Elections Canada news release said Thursday.

As results came in on election night, Dosanjh trailed Conservative candidate Wai Young through the evening, but he overtook her at the end. Those initial, unofficial results showed the former B.C. premier taking 16,774 votes to Young's 15,995 after all 184 polls had reported.

But Wednesday's validated results give Dosanjh 16,101 ballots to Young's 16,068. Elections Canada did not explain the change.

The mainstream press has never examined this clash of values, no doubt because they agree with the Liberals. But this election has stripped bare the Liberal Party's claim to be the defender of Canadian values.

The Liberals won 76 seats, half of which came from Ontario. But almost all of their Ontario seats are within the Greater Toronto Area. In short, it appears that Liberal values are synonymous with Toronto values.

Quick. Take the Black Rod Reader's Survey.

Hands up everyone who thinks Toronto speaks for Canada?


We thought so.


What they promised

In 2006, the Conservatives had five major promises in their election platform. Judge us on how we carried out our promises, they said.

Cut the GST by two percent? Lunacy, said the Opposition. We need massive surpluses or else the government can't spend on new programs.

A $100 a month child care benefit? Pandering to the right-wing, screamed the Opposition. We have to have a national child-care system.

Two years later, nobody was running on returning the GST to 7 percent, nor on eliminating the child care benefit.

The public did judge the Conservatives on how they implemented their election promises in the face of unrelenting opposition from the Opposition parties -- and returned the Conservatives to power with an even greater plurality of seats.

In this election, the Conservatives made only one major promise--to overhaul Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act. Already, as you read higher up, the NDP and Bloc are promising to derail the proposed changes, which the public has overwhelmingly approved. The Liberals, you can bet, will oppose any changes in principle, since the exisiting Act is their creation.

But individual MP's like Winnipeg's Judy Wasylycia-Leis claimed they were in favour of toughening the youth crime laws.

Will they support the Conservatives' changes or will they toe the NDP line.

Will they campaign on one policy in Winnipeg and vote another in Ottawa?

We'll be watching closely.

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