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 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:

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Campaigning by Limo, the NDP duo Jack Layton and wife

Imagine you have two stories to pick from.

One is about Stephen Harper reading a speech five years ago that sounds like a speech given by a politician in Australia.

The other is about NDP leader Jack Layton defending his wife's use of a chauffered limousine to do her campaigning in the current election.

Which story do you pick for the CBC National?

Awww. You peeked.

Yep. The CBC thought the five-year-old speech was dynamite election news.

The NDP leader's wife campaigning in a chauffered limousine----not so much.

We beg to differ.

The contrast between the leader of a political party trying to portray himself as Everyman and The Little Guy's Friend, and his wife stopping the limo to spread the message to that same Everyman is priceless.

Layton was asked to comment on his wife's little perk during a news conference Sunday. So far we can only three references to the Layton Limo story.

* "Limousine Liberals, Champagne socialists or neither?" on the Toronto Star's online Campaign Notebook at

* "No such thing as a dumb question?", in a Globe and Mail blog by someone called Douglas Bell. Douglas Bell is described as "a Toronto-based writer and occasional actor. He wrote for and acted in CBC TV's The Newsroom."

* And a single line in a Rob Granatstein column in the Toronto Sun "Layton's not in power, but in power's face", September 20, 2008.

"For Layton's editorial board meeting at the Toronto Sun yesterday, a three-car motorcade brought in the guy who used to ride to class on a bike."

"As many as eight RCMP officers surrounded Layton. It's not clear whether his wife, NDP MP Olivia Chow, is allowed inside the security bubble, although she also gets RCMP protection as wife of the leader and therefore is in a limo herself."

Douglas Bell, who, as an occasional actor obviously knows a lot about news judgement, wrote that his eyeballs rolled into the back of his head at hearing Layton asked about wife Olivia Chow and her election transportation. The "press core" laughed. (Note to Dougie. Bone up on homynyms, something every writer should know something about.)

The Toronto Star also scoffed at the story and cheered Layton's retort. He and his wife would rather, he said to the cheers of the crowd, campaign on bicycles, but the RCMP insists, insists he said again, that, as a potential Prime Minister, for safety's sake they use limousines.

The last time we saw such delusion in an NDP'er was in convicted ring thief Svend Robinson who admitted he was barking mad right up to the day he was sentenced in court. Then, the moment he learned he wasn't going to jail, he was miraculously cured. And he wanted to take God out of the constitution...

Two stories. Two approaches. If we didn't know better we might think the press corps (see Doug) was protecting one candidate and not the other, almost as if they had an anybody-but-harper pact...


The CBC"s National News internet reporter Susan Ormiston had a piece Tuesday night on top election bloggers. There was Liberal Jason Cherniak, of course. And, naturally, Steve Janke (aka Angry in the Great White North representing the Conservative side of the fence.

And Devin Johnston, of Winnipeg.

Yeah. Who?

He's apparently an NDP supporter whose father is running for the Greens. And the boy has a blog.

We repeat, who?

Devin did come to the defence of 9/11 Truthers on Cherniak's blog, though. Maybe that's how CBC found him.

He wrote, almost as if he was one of their own:

Devin Johnston said...
Jason, I have good friends who are Liberals and I don't think that necessarily makes me corrupt. As is clear in the video, most 9/11 Truthskateers are also active in opposing continental deep integration, a position that is shared by the NDP.


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