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Showing posts from August, 2009

The CBC catches fire, but here's one story they will never report

The CBC is on fire.

CBC-Television News broke from the pack this week, and it wasn't only its coverage of the Hillary Wilson-Cherisse Houle story.

The day of ignition was Monday, the day the Winnipeg Free Press reported that murder victim Hillary Wilson had known Cherisse Houle, a prostitute also found dead on the outskirts of Winnipeg one month earlier. (A reader has pointed out that CTV"s Stacey Ashley actually broke this detail on Sunday's 6 o'clock newscast - ed.)

From then on they did something exceptionally unusual in Winnipeg---they followed the story every single day, advancing it bit by bit throughout the week.

Sure, some of the scoops were bunk. The two dead girls both testified, reported CBC, at the trials of members of an Asian gang that traded crack for sex from as many as 20 young aboriginal girls.

It turned out the "gang" was six Vietnamese men in their mid-50's, half of whom were deported upon conviction.

And the "mysterious van" foll…

Gary Doer's out. He's in. Who?

The answer---
Lloyd Axworthy.

The question?
Who will replace Gary Doer as leader of the Manitoba NDP and as Premier of Manitoba?

Forget the knee-jerk professional pundits. The so-called potential candidates are either waist deep in delusion (Steve Ashton), shoulder deep in scandal (Greg Selinger) or nose deep in obscurity (Nancy Allan).

Gary Doer's parting gift to his once-heralded-heir, Bill Blaikie, was a knife in the back Sicilian-style with a declaration on how out-of-touch Old Lefties (like Billy) are with the electorate.

The party brass could appoint an interim Premier---nice-guy Gord Mackintosh fits the bill---to carry them over the winter while the leadership "race" steals the spotlight from the Opposition. Or they could seize the brass ring now, install his Lloydship and dare the Opposition to challenge his holiness.

Axworthy is no stranger to the Manitoba Legislature.He was elected as a Liberal in Fort Rouge in the 1973 election and re-elected in 1977. He was th…

Gary Doer's ethics cabinet

It was all he could do to keep from laughing out loud.

But Gary Doer was laughing up his sleeve every minute of it.

The time: Jan. 30, 2001
The occasion: Manitoba's Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections

The NDP was taking another opportunity to humiliate and torture the Tories over the scandal that cost the Conservatives the 1999 election.

Leading the hectoring was Steve Ashton, then the Minister of Highways, who took aim at what he called the win-at-all costs school of ethics.

ASHTON:
I want to ask some questions that directly follow from some of the aspects we have seen in the last number of years in terms of elections, sort of, if one was to describe it, the lack of ethics that seems to have characterized the Conservative Party's approach in both the '95 and the '99 elections...

There was a cover-up engineered by senior PC Party officials of that specific incident. I think we are going to be asking today some questions as to whether there was a cover-up on a…

Gary Doer---Gittin' while the gittin's good

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer went for a checkup this summer and got some bad news.

His teflon was gone.

Internal polling showed that NDP support had gone softer than jell-o. The day when his personal popularity could carry the party through times of trouble were over.

The NDP has been running a stealth election campaign for over a month. We saw it, but couldn't figure out what was going on. By the new law of fixed election dates, the next election isn't until October, 2011. So how, we kept asking ourselves, could they precipitate an early election?

With Doer's resignation as Premier, we now know the game.

The NDP had to change its public image with or without Doer at the helm.They launched their '11 election campaign early, counting on the momentum to carry them through the dark days ahead.

- Gary Doer is telling everyone he's leaving because he's been Premier for 10 years and its time to revitalize the party. Don't believe it.

He's bring driven out of office by…

Stop The Madness

Attorney General Dave "Six Months" Chomiak looked dour, as if he was attending a funeral. Winnipeg Police Chief 'Elvis' McCaskill yammered something about listening to the community or hearing the community or dancing with the community; nobody listens to him anymore, so it hardly matters.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Bill Robinson did most of the talking.

The province was setting up an Integrated Task Force for Missing and Murdered Women, he said. It's job: find out who's killing native prostitutes and dumping their bodies outside Winnipeg.

The news media swooned. It was official. They could now give themselves orgasms by saying "task force" as often as possible.

The unit is made up of three RCMP officers, two RCMP analysts and four Winnipeg police officers. And they're all experienced. Wow, imagine that.
How's it going to work, the reporters begged.

Well, said Robinson, they're going to review all the files of unsolved homicides involving fem…

more from court: The Law, and the Law of Unintended Consequences

Unions claim they exist to improve the lives of employees. Tell that to Gail Eckert.

She had been working for Canstar Community News Ltd. for 15 1/2 years when the company was unionized by Media Union of Manitoba. She had worked herself up through the organization and held the position of manager of sales development. She earned a base salary of $85,000 a year plus commissions.

The bargaining unit didn't include Eckert's job. But her Spidey sense tingled and, fearing the worst, she asked to attend the ratification meeting. She was barred by the Media Union.

And, you guessed it, at the eleventh hour Canstar and the Media Union added Eckert’s position to the bargaining unit. They changed her title to account executive at a base salary of $42,175, with a right to earn an additional $16,000 per year if certain sales objectives were met. Canstar guaranteed Eckert the additional sum for one year only.

In March 2008, she quit, claiming that she had been constructively dismissed without c…

All rise, court is in session...

So many good court stories are going unreported, we've decided to step in and do the job ourselves. Welcome to the Black Rod Court series.

Battlin' Mayors

The City of Winnipeg threw a hail mary pass to get out of a $2 million breach of trust lawsuit launched by the Aquatic Hall of Fame and Museum.

But a Court of Queen's Bench judge has knocked it down and told city lawyers to suit up and bring their best game to court.

The city filed a motion for a summary judgement---a ruling that essentially says, look, everyone knows there's really nothing to this lawsuit, so let's toss it out before we have to go to the expense and bother of a trial.

Madam Justice Lori Spivak, in a written ruling, said the hall of fame has enough evidence on its side, including an almost-forgotten signed agreement with the city in Mayor Steven Juba's day, to warrant a full trial.

The city plans to call its own former mayor, Susan Thompson, to dump on the aquatic hall of fame.

The trial will be a k…

The CMHR---what, exactly, as we getting for $310 million?

With attention now focused on the never-ending cost of building the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, something is being lost.

What's going to be in the building?

We know that construction is eating up almost 90 percent of the $310 million new, new, new, new budget of the CMHR. What's the other 10 percent or so buying?

Sooner or later every discussion about the museum hits a wall of competing special interests. How will the Palestinian story be told, if at all? Will the Armenian genocide have as big an exhibit as the Holocaust? What about the starved Ukrainians? The Hutus and Tutsis? Homosexuals? Trans-sexuals? Trans-sexual homosexuals?

The museum proponents know these catfights are senseless, but they've chosen to stay silent and not correct any misconceptions.

Is it because the truth might be more controversial than the baseless speculation?

To start, purge any idea of a traditonal museum from your minds. The CMHR will only have one major permanent exhibit--on the Holocaust. C…

CMHR won't be able to revise this history

He ducked. He dodged. He weaved. But in the end, he coughed up.

A drop-dead number. On the record. In stone.

CJOB radio host Geoff Currier sparred Thursday morning with Arni Thorsteinson, chairman of the board of trustees for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and with Gail Asper, chairman of the fundraising campaign by the Friends of the museum.

It was carefully choreographed with scripted questions and absolutely no fielding of calls from the public. But in an uncharacteristic display of journalism, Currier wouldn't let Thorsteinson get away without answering if the museum project had a "ceiling," a cost that wouldn't be exceeded no matter what.

"We're at that point now," Thorsteinson finally said. "We've got our final budget. We're highly confident that we will complete the project at that cost."

That cost: $310 million. Write it down. Print it out. Paint it on the wall.

Because Thorsteinson and Gail Asper must be held to account to th…

Somebody's talking

The arrest of five Indian Posse members in one day, mostly for a string of shootings dating back two years, means only one thing---somebody's talking.

That could be a major breakthrough in the fight to break up Winnipeg street gangs which have become more brazen and reckless by the day.

Among the trio of Indian Posse gang members charged Tuesday with a two-year-old murder is Travis Arnold Personius, who is currently in prison in Saskatchewan. The name was unfamiliar, so we went digging for more information, and found it in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

Personius was sentenced only one month ago to five years for jamming a gun into a stranger's chest and telling him "One shot to the heart and you're dead."

The 23-year-old from the Opaskwayak Indian Reserve near The Pas, pleaded guilty to using a firearm in an attempted robbery; he had demanded the man's tie. The April 20, 2008, incident was defused, court was told, when a friend walked over and Personius said he wa…

Shame. Gail Asper sexed up the tourist benefit of the CMHR

Gail Asper will be lucky if she's not sued by Burger King for copyright infringement given the number of whoppers in her Wednesday op-ed defending the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Regular readers of The Black Rod could immediately spot her newly-spun pair of nose-stretchers, and it only took us five minutes to expose her biggest mugging of the truth. The desperation in her article to stop the bleeding of her credibility tells how rapidly her house of cards is collapsing.

"Weigh the museum's costs, and benefits" read the ironic headline in the Winnipeg Free Press, because, really, the absolute last thing Gail Asper wants is for anyone to actually make that comparison.

"The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will "provide significant economic benefits for the citizens of Winnipeg and Manitoba which, but for the creation for the museum, would not exist in our province," wrote Asper.

What delusional arrogance. Spending $300 million on any construction proje…