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

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kaj to Toronto: Don't Trust Glen

MTC may have the hit play The Drowsy Chaperone, but we have our eyes on a real-life drama that's downright Shakespearean.

A mighty visionary struck down by those he trusted most. His past sins risen as ghosts to haunt him at him on the eve of possibly his greatest success. Unbridled ambition. Bitter betrayal. If only the Bard were alive to chonicle the tale.

Glen Murray, a legend in his own mind, is running as the provincial Liberal Party candidate in an Ontario by-election. His short stint as mayor of Winnipeg, along with his blinding urban visionary powers, are prime elements of his resume for the job.

He sees himself as the unchallengable front runner.

He's gay. The former MPP for the riding was gay.
He's gay. The riding has the largest gay constituency in the country
He's gay. And, as his fellow gay visionary, Richard Florida, has written, the future of cities depends on, well, you know.

Imagine his surprise, then, to find himself blindsided by one of his biggest fans, an emulator who ran for mayor of Winnipeg himself, and is, yes, gay. Enter Kaj (pronounced K'eye) Hasselreis.

Upon hearing that Murray was in line for the nomination to run in Toronto-Centre, Kaj rushed out a warning for Toronto voters about his role model: don't trust him.

Titled "A Queer's eye-view of Glen Murray/From a Winnipegger who knows him well", Kaj's clarion call was printed in xtra.ca ("Canada's source for gay and lesbian news").

Kaj wrote how excited he was when the man he had known as co-founder of the city's pioneering AIDS clinic and as an NDP city councillor became the mayor of Winnipeg.

"In 1998, I moved into a house down the street from Murray, and a few months later, he was elected mayor. When I went to his inauguration with my lesbian roommate, he proudly showed off his big, shiny chain of office and we swooned, "That's our mayor!" To which he responded, "Now I just need earrings to match!"

"Murray succeeded in inspiring Winnipeggers to think of our city as world-class. He was also a positive role model for young queers."

But it wasn't to last, he wrote. Sniffing a better opportunity, Murray dumped the NDP, joined the Liberals, dumped his job as mayor and ran for a seat in Parliament because he had been promised a cabinet post.

That's the kind of guy he is, said Kaj. He's the guy always looking over your shoulder in case there's somebody better to talk to. He's always looking out for #1.

"I have a lot of good things to report about Glen Murray, but I have to end this column with a warning to the voters of Toronto-Centre: Don't believe that he won't dump you, too, if a hotter offer comes along."

And he revealed that Murray already has his eye set on his next vision---for himself.

"...he still considers himself a Winnipegger, and says he'll return one day to run for MP again. At least that's what he told me a few months ago, when I interviewed him at a Winnipeg coffee shop. I have no doubt that Murray sincerely wants to serve the people - he's just always keeping his options open about which people to serve."

His bottom line?

"Take it from a Winnipegger: The man... is a charismatic, commitment-phobic, power-hungry, eager-to-please crybaby who can't be trusted. But he deserves every vote he gets."

Okay, so its not exactly "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."

Still, we know Glen Murray's obvious retort, and to him will go the final words.

Et tu, Brute?

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