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:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Winnipeg Free Press and CBC finally hint at spiralling cost of Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Did they think we wouldn't notice something this momentous?

This week two major Winnipeg news outlets oh-so-casually made reference to "the $300 million" Museum for Human Rights planned for the city.

Except that the museum's official website still says (as of midnight Nov. 13, 2008) that the project will cost $265 million.

What do they know that they're not telling? wrote:
Human rights museum questioned on green building policy
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008
12:11 PM CT
The Manitoba government appears to be ignoring its own green building policy as it funds the $300-million Canadian Museum for Human Rights

And the Winnipeg Free Press wrote:

Rights Museum will be 'green;: spokeswoman
Thursday, November 13, 2008

"...How environmentally friendly the new $300 million museum will be took centre stage yesterday after a media outlet reported the Doer government appeared to be ingnoring its own green building policy in the museum's design and construction."

So the newsrooms have finally acknowledged that the CMHR is not immune from the construction cost inflation that's hammered every project in the province for the past few years.

The next step is to concede that the cost overrun is already beyond the capacity of the museum's board of directors to overcome.

When the federal government became a partner in the construction of the museum in April, 2007, it capped the cost of the project at $265 million. The museum's board committed to Parliament that they would be responsible for any cost overruns.

(The Black Rod blew the whistle on the museum scam way back last spring when the CBC and Free Press were still promoting the party line. See details

In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary in their own newscasts, the Free Press and CBC have for years peddled the illusion that the human rights museum was untouched by the skyrocketing costs of steel, concrete and labour.

Let's take a quick trip down memory lane.

Water plant may bust budget
Rising costs may require more than $214M: report

By Mary Agnes Welch
The Winnipeg Free Press
Saturday, October 9, 2004
- CONSTRUCTION of the city's new water treatment plant is on a very tight schedule and could blow its budget, a city report warned yesterday.

"We feel we have to warn councillors," said Tom Pearson, manager of water services. "It's a little too early in the process to say whether we will come in on budget or we won't."


To reduce the risk of cost overruns, the city has hired a construction manager, who will tender smaller, more manageable parts of the work and oversee the process.

(Pearson) is still confident the army of engineers, consultants and construction experts will build the water treatment plant on time and on budget.

"We didn't hire rookies," he said.

The water treatment plant is still unfinished and is currently costed at $300 million, a 40 percent increase over budget despite every cost-control measure known to mankind and a few invented purely for the project.

February 16, 2006
According to a recent analysis conducted by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of BC (ICBA), construction costs rose 45 per cent in the province in the last five years, and will continue to jump 10 per cent annually over the next five years.

New CAO suspends new City of Winnipeg construction
Last Updated: Friday, September 28, 2007 9:23 AM CT
CBC News

New construction projects in Winnipeg are being put on hold for at least the next week while the city reviews its capital budget.

The city's recently appointed acting chief administrative officer, Alex Robinson, has asked for a review of all new city projects, saying project costs are spiralling out of control.

Coun. Harry Lazarenko, a longtime member of the city's infrastructure and public works committee, told CBC News it was time to put on the brakes.

"We were projecting to do a lot of the capital work that is required, especially infrastructure, but it was unforeseen, the high cost," he said, noting cost overruns have been between 20 and 30 per cent.

"It would be a hard hit to the taxpayers to go ahead and just to go blindly into it. We have to revisit and to take a look and hold back."

Portage Place seeking developer
Apartments would fill need in core area
Winnipeg Free Press
Monday January 21 2008
By Murray McNeill

... All three developers said one of the biggest obstacles to overcome will be soaring construction costs, which Thorsteinson said have increased by 40 per cent in the last two years.

Steelmakers forge profit from soaring prices
CBC News July 30, 2008

ArcelorMittal SA, the world's largest steel producer, posted quarterly profits that blasted past analysts' forecasts and continued a trend of stellar news in the white-hot steel sector.

For example, the price per metric tonne of cold rolled steel coil, $985 US, soared 41 per cent between April 2007 and this April. The same is true for hot rolled steel plate, which recently hit $1,065 per tonne, 35 per cent more expensive than last April.

You can't say there weren't enough red flags.

As for the board's ability to cover the cost overruns---don't make us laugh.

The private sector still hasn't raised the $105 million they're committed to before construction will begin.

* Between December '06 and December '07, private sector contributions to the museum were roughly $13 million.

* Between December '07 and now, private sector contributions have been roughly $14.6 million.

* They're still $7.4 million shy of their allotted share of the costs.

* That's why the hinted-at construction date has slipped from February to "early spring."

But at that rate, it will take another two years to cover the extra $35 million the news agencies are reporting.

And if history is any guide, the final cost of the project will actually be at least 40 percent over budget.

Roughly $80 million.

Where's that figure come from?

Well, a well-placed source with intimate knowledge of the museum project has informed an internet community that the actual cost of contruction has climbed from its original $90 million estimate to $200 million today.

And that's without a single spoonful of earth moved.



Plans to "green" the CMHR include installing photovoltaic cells in the glass around the building. That's technology to create electricity from the sun. It's also the most ineffective and most costly "green" technology out there.

And, if the true cost of the CMHR project is now reaching $380 million, that means the museum will be worth as much or more than the whole Canwest Global empire.

August 1, 2008,

Globe and Mail
Asper considers taking CanWest private

CanWest shares have plunged 83 per cent in the past 18 months, leaving the company with a market value of just $366-million...

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