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, February 20, 2009

Memo to Gordon Sinclair: Northcott's stress = Porkgate cover-up

Put down that phone.

The call to the Pope will have to wait.

Apparently city councillor Justin Swandel and Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gordon Sinclair have launched a campaign to have "Winnipeg Harvest boss" David Northcott declared a saint.




But, but, but, he works so hard; he cares so much, he drove himself to a heart attack, sniffed Sinclair on Friday.

It was the stress, including the stress of "watching the number of hungry mouths that were diminishing slightly at the beginning of last year suddenly climb by three per cent at the end of 2008," wrote Sinclair.

What he so carefully failed to write was what happened during the time of Winnipeg Harvest's greatest need, at the end of 2008.

At the very time that Harvest was scrambling to meet the demand for food for the needy, highly-paid employees of the Winnipeg Free Press were scrambling to load their freezers with 1500 pounds of prime pork meat that had been donated to Harvest to feed the poor.

The FP employees and union have refused to say where the pork, nicely packaged with Winnipeg Harvest labels, came from. They've given a series of different stories on how the meat-for-the-needy was delivered to the picket line last October four days into their strike against the FP.

Gordon Sinclair never wrote a single word about how his colleagues wound up with food that was intended specifically for the poor and disadvantaged. Nor did he write how David Northcott applauded the delivery of the food to the strikers instead of the poor.

At the time, Northcott claimed in a CJOB radio interview he had no idea how the food made its way from Winnipeg Harvest freezers to the picket line other than a stop at an unidentified local food bank along the way. And, he said, he didn't care. It was a humanitarian gesture which he supported.

So maybe the stress on Northcott wasn't so much from feeding the poor, but rather from explaining why well-paid strikers got food before the poor and hungry.

Maybe it was having to deflect questions about why Winnipeg Harvest has no controls over the food it collects, allegedly for the poor, but which can obviously be distributed to whomever.

Maybe it was the exposure that his political priorities (making sure strikers are supported and fed) take precedence over the truly needy.

Maybe it was the revelation that meat given to Harvest in prime condition can be allowed to spoil before it's handed out.

And maybe it was because the cover-up got bigger than he ever expected.

Way back on December 18, "in response to a concern raised by a local radio station", the Winnipeg Health Department stated that, contrary to the Free Press union's own claims, only "350- 1 kg meat packages" or about 750 pounds of pork was delivered to the picketers. Where did they get that figure?

The answer was provided only this week by none other than Mayor Sam Katz, who said the information came from Winnipeg Harvest.

But how would Winnipeg Harvest, i.e. David Northcott, know exactly how much purloined pork was in the mystery pick-up truck? How, unless someone told him.

And who would be the most likely informant?

Obviously someone from one of the 40 or so food banks and distribution outlets that Northcott allegedly questioned back in October when he was allegedly trying to find the source of the pork.

Someone came clean. And Northcott decided to keep the secret.

Just like the employees of the Winnipeg Free Press, including columnist Gordon Sinclair.

To watch Sinclair now pretend he cares so much about the hungry that he wants to promote a fund-raising campaign to take the pressure off David Northcott is obscene.

If he really cared, he would start by getting his union to pay for the food it took out of the mouths of those hungry.

Then he would plug the leaks in the Winnipeg Harvest distribution system that sees strikers with jobs paying $70,000 to $90,000 a year get priority over the poor.

But instead he's shopping for a halo--- for a fellow conspirator.

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