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:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Is this what the NDP is trying to hide in the photo radar scandal

The NDP is being unusually obdurate in the face of the firestorm of outrage over the improper use of photo radar.

Premier Gary Doer is taunting the Opposition for making political hay out of it, gambling that public anger will fade by the time of the next provincial election two years hence. Of course he may be planning on resigning as leader by then and letting some other sucker stick his neck in the noose, but that's another story for another time.

Still, behind the public uproar the central question remains unanswered---how the hell did this happen?

The pundits have an easy answer---it was a cash grab; motorists were set up, tricked into speeding in construction zones when no workers were present just to raise millions in fines for the province and the city of Winnipeg.

We don't buy it.

To begin with, as sure as porcupines have pines (in the words of Justice Minister Dave "Six Months" Chomiak), something is not quite right with the way the province has responded to the matter.

Chomiak has done everything he can to blame the city, including propagating an obviously false story that the province couldn't appeal nine tossed out speeding tickets because of some belated discovery that the city failed to properly mark the construction zones where the tickets were issued.

As reported exclusively in The Black Rod, Justice of the Peace Norman Sundstrom said the exact opposite in his written decision dismissing the nine tickets.

"In all the cases herein being considered, there was appropriate signage designating a "construction zone" set up at each end of the zone."

How the MSM allows Chomiak to get away with blatantly misstating the truth day after day escapes us.

So, we did what these professional reporters should do; we went back to Square One, in this case, the written decision by Justice of the Peace Norman Sundstrom. And we hit paydirt.

Sundstrom ruled that his reading of the Highway Traffic Act supported the defence lawyer's contention that photo radar speeding tickets could only be issued in construction zones if workers were present. All nine tickets in question were issued when no workers were in the construction zones.

But Sundstrom didn't stop there. He discovered, he wrote, "an unfortunate glitch in the legislation".

Provincial law allows the use of photo radar only in school zones, playground zones and construction zones. But another section of the law states that the commissionaires manning the photo radar can only lay charges of "speeding" and NOT "speeding in a construction zone", which carries double the usual fine.

The implication is obvious.

All tickets for speeding in a construction zone issued as a result of photo radar were invalid.


Only police officers could issue tickets for speeding in a construction zone.

Anyone who got a photo radar ticket charging the motorist with speeding in a construction zone, not just speeding, was falsely charged under provincial law.

All those motorists must get a refund of their fines.

Is this what Chomiak doesn't want you to know?

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