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.

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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: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The NDP's election fraud coverup is unravelling

Manitoba's Justice Minister Dave Chomiak, the man responsible for upholding the laws of the province, is at the forefront of the NDP's efforts to deflect attention from the 1999 NDP election expenses fraud.

He's also, it turns out, a prime suspect.

Manitoba's Finance Minister Greg Selinger, the man responsible for ensuring tax money is spent properly, admits he's known for six years of the scheme by the NDP to defraud the province of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He never went public, although he did insist on a letter from the NDP executive in 2003 exonerating him from blame.

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, under whose watch the NDP conducted the illegal expenses rebate scheme for three elections, says he sees nothing wrong with Elections Manitoba letting the NDP buy their way out of getting charged for deliberately falsifying election expenses.

These three may be at the top of the rogue's gallery in the scandal, but as you will see, there are more to be added.

The cover-up is beginning to unravel, though the NDP is confident they can keep the lid on for another week until the Legislature prorogues and the MSM loses interest over the summer months.

It is, after all, a complicated fraud scheme, something reporters find too confusing to understand or too hard to explain.


And unlike the Old School legislature reporters, the new crop hasn't got the will or the cajones to keep digging.

Here, in a nutshell, is how the NDP election fraud worked:

A. Unions supplied election workers for 13 NDP candidates.

B. The NDP campaign office paid the respective union the regular daily salary each worker would normally earn. The unions then kicked back the exact same amount as a "donation" so that the actual cost to the NDP campaign was zero.

C. The campaign agents for each candidate listed the workers as unpaid help -- donations-in-kind -- which are not eligible for a legislated 50 percent subsidy from the province. But the paperwork was first sent to a central auditor. There, the official election expense statements of the 13 campaigns were altered so that the union workers were listed as paid help.

D. The altered documents were returned to the official agents who, seeing no changes to the bottom lines, signed them and sent them in to Elections Manitoba. The trick was that now the NDP would be reimbursed from the public purse for half the "expense" of the union help.

Talk about unforeseen consequences.

As a result of the Monnin Inquiry, which the NDP credits for their 1999 election victory, Elections Manitoba was given additional powers to look into party financing. Using these powers, the auditors tripped over the NDP's orchestrated election expenses fraud.

Shortly before the 2003 provincial election, Elections Manitoba had a private meeting with NDP officials.

The jig's up, they were told; we know what you're doing, and how you do it; it's illegal and it's going to stop.

Dave Chomiak describes this meeting as when the NDP learned they had made an "accounting error."

NDP election officers then called together the 13 candidates and their agents to inform them that, er, there had been a slight problem with the election expenses, and they would have to sign revised statements or they would face legal problems.

Finance Minister Greg Selinger was at the meeting and he knew the seriousness, legal and political, of what he was hearing. One agent says Selinger was "so upset he looked like he was about to have a stroke."

During a scrum in the Legislature on Wednesday, Selinger spilled a lot of beans.

The scheme "had been going on for an extended period of time," he said.

Was it deliberate?, asked one reporter.
"Yeah, as I understood it."


Selinger wasn't going to take the heat, legal or political.

"I asked for a letter from them to take responsibility for the issue, they did and they resolved it with Elections Manitoba."

The Opposition is demanding to know why the NDP was allowed to repay $76,000 to the Manitoba treasury to "resolve the matter", with no charges laid against any election official. By contrast, three Conservative candidates and agents were charged with filing improper election returns.

The NDP deflects the question by saying they have full faith in Elections Manitoba, which, in turn, refuses to discuss its investigation or its decision.

But all the signs point to one thing---a plea bargain.

The NDP would return their ill-gotten money and promise not to do it again. NDP provincial secretary, former Ontario CAW union leader Tom Milne, would fall on his sword and resign. In exchange, Elections Manitoba would agree not to investigate similar fraud in the elections of 1995, 1990 and maybe even earlier.


Deal? Deal.

Dave Chomiak hinted at the reasons for the bargain at a recent meeting of the Legislature's Legislative Committee (yeah, that's what its called) where the expenses fraud was exposed in detail.

Mens rea, he babbled at one point.

Mens rea. Legal babble for intent.

* Elections Canada couldn't charge the agents or candidates for 13 ridings because they couldn't prove they intended to file false election expenses.

* And that was because the NDP's scheme was carefully designed to provide these people with plausible deniability---the alterations were done at central HQ by someone else and the agents simply signed the documents without knowing they had been falsified.

It's almost as if the scheme was designed by a lawyer who knew how to circumvent elections law.

Hmmm.

Dave Chomiak is a lawyer.

And he was co-chairman of the 1999 election campaign.

Hmmm.

* Richard Belasko, Chief Electoral Officer with Elections Manitoba, confirmed indirectly that the investigation by his office went no further than the official agents.

He told the Legislative Committee:

Mr. Balasko:
I wouldn't have a knowledge of how the NDP internally would've managed the returns. Our point is that returns are publicly filed with Elections Manitoba signed by the official agents, and that's where we begin our review, and at the end of the day when returns were refiled with Elections Manitoba, again, they were filed by the appropriate-signed, sorry, by the appropriate officer of the campaigns and the central political party. So, from our perspective, Mr. Goertzen, we're dealing with the return before us, the publicly disclosed return, which is signed by the appropriate officer.


In other words, their only concern was the agents who signed the false returns.

* Elections Manitoba made no effort to identify WHO altered the election returns, nor did they interview the agents to ask what they knew.

Why?

Isn't it obvious?
It was 2003, and there was a provincial election on the horizon.

Enmeshing the ruling NDP in an election expenses investigation could affect the vote.

So Elections Manitoba chose to wrap up its investigation and call it even -- with the return of the $76,000.

They then waited until after the election to make a teeny tiny public notice of the repayment, in an obscure government publication on Monday, Dec. 22, three days before Christmas Eve.

Uh huh.

Nothing suspicous there.

* Elections Manitoba did something else, as well. They parted ways with the forensic auditor who discovered the NDP fraud.
It had nothing to do, they profess, with a letter from the NDP's provincial secretary who demanded that the auditor be removed from any further dealings with the NDP because they believe he was biased against them.

Yeah, biased because he caught them red-handed breaking the law.

Still, out he went. For other reasons, said Belasko. Not because of the NDP pressure. Nope. Nothing to do with it. Purely coincidental.


Yup. Coincidence.

We think that if there had been a proper investigation, the trail would eventually have led, and may still if there is a public inquiry, straight to the desk of the NDP's 1999 campaign manager, a certain Brian O'Leary.

Longtime readers of The Black Rod know the man who gave his name to the scandal known as O'Learygate.

For the unitiated, a short recap:

-- The Seven Oaks School Division, under Superintendant Brian O'Leary, decided to buy a whack of land in 2001 on the pretense they needed it for a school. They would then subdivide it, and build a housing subdivision, something forbidden by provincial law.

-- When an astute resident started asking questions, the school board called an emergency meeting to backdate documents and induce amnesia on who approved what and when.

-- After the illegal land development scheme was exposed, the school board came up with two sets of books. In one, they admitted they lost $300,000 on the deal. In the other, they said that if they sold the remaining empty parcel of land to themselves for an imaginary school for four times what they paid for it, they would make a profit of half a million dollars.

-- The provincial auditor said such Enron math was okay by her.

Before that, O'Leary made the news with another scandal. (There's a theme running through here---the contempt for rules and the assurance that the NDP will back whatever you do.)

-- In 1998, Brian O'Leary was the principal of Maples Collegiate, and a staunch opponent to the mandatory student testing policy of the Filmon government. The day before a mathematics test at his school, he breached department directions and broke open a packet of tests, taking one away and giving it to a teacher in the school.

- When the teacher who would be in charge of administering the test the next day found out what O'Leary did, he reported the tampering to the Department of Education.

-- O'Leary retaliated by having the teacher transferred to another school to teach a course he was not trained to teach, and he got a letter of reprimand inserted in the teacher's file -accusing him of insubordination and unprofessional conduct.

-- The teacher filed a grievance, and, eventually, won his old job back.

That teacher was Jim Treller, who became the NDP's official agent for Rossmere riding in the 1999 election campaign.

On Tuesday, he stood on the steps of the Legislature and called for a public inquiry into the NDP's elections rebate scheme. He had been suckered into it, he said, by unnamed Party officials who tampered with his carefully calculated election return. And he's still angry.

Treller hasn't changed a bit since 1998.
He, then, did what was right.
He was determined to uphold the rules.

In return he was vilified by Brian O'Leary, who was supported by an investigation by an education department official--- NDP policy analyst John Wiens.


Treller paid a heavy price before he was finally vindicated after filing a Labour Board grievance. But he never backed down.

We're betting Brian O'Leary never changed either.

A public inquiry into Rebategate will tell if we're right.

******

For the record…the 13 ridings where the NDP falsified election expenses in 1999 and their candidates.

The Maples: Chris Aglugub
St. Vital: Nancy Allen
Riel: Linda Asper
Fort Garry: Lawrie Cherniak (who lost to Joy Smith PC)
Gimli: Fran Frederickson (who lost to Ed Helwer PC)
Springfield: Leonard Kimacovich (who lost to Ron Schuler PC)
St. James: Bonnie Korzenioski
The Pas: Oscar Lathlin
Burrows: Doug Martindale
Lakeside: Paul Pododworny (who lost to Harry Enns PC)
Rossmere: Harry Schellenberg
St. Boniface: Greg Selinger
Southdale: Iris Taylor (who lost to Jack Reimer PC)

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