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:

Friday, August 21, 2009

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 cause, primarily due to the reduction in her salary. She sued for wrongful dismissal.

Tough luck, said Court of Queen's Bench judge Perry Schulman in tossing the case.

"The issue on this motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim for damages for wrongful dismissal and interference with contractual relations is whether the fact that the plaintiff was dragged against her will into a union and into a collective agreement regime exempts her claim from the principles articulated in the case of Weber v. Ontario Hydro, [1995]..." he wrote.

And? Nope, he said. Case dismissed.

Solidarity forever.


The winner of the Nice Try Award of the day goes to ....Joseph William Zadworny, who sued MPI for his $200 deductible after a tree fell on his parked car.

The car was written off and he was paid $1,940 by MPI. He went to small claims court for his deductible back, arguing that pamphlets distributed by MPI---"The Guide to Autopac" and "All about Deductibles"---state that deductibles are waived for a wildlife collision.

He lost, but appealed to the Court of Queen's Bench asking the judge to interpret the word “wildlife” to include vegetation. He even quoted from dictionairies to support his proposition.

Nice try, but....

The court doesn't recognize dictionaries as legal authorities.

And the regulations governing MPI actually says deductibles don't have to be paid if you run into any "wild animal or bird listed in Schedule A of the Wildlife Act”. Yes, they have a list.

The claim was dismissed.

And Zadworny had to pay $100 in court costs.


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