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:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who will apologize to Marty Minuk?


Do you hear it?

There it is again.

It's unmistakeable. The sound of dead silence.

No screams of outrage. No chanting mob. No sneering headlines. No contemptuous lectures. Dead silence.

If there's nothing to hear, there's lots to see. See, for instance, the difference between a real court of law and the mock courts the NDP uses for its show trials, notably the persecution of Derek Harvey-Zenk.

"A speeding motorist who had alcohol in his system when he struck and killed a 12-year-old boy walking down a darkened Manitoba highway will not go to jail for his crime. Pernell Guimond was give a two-year conditions sentence…" wrote Mike McIntyre in a story published Jan. 13 in the Winnipeg Free Press.

Oh? we said. That's on all-fours with the case of Crystal Taman who was killed when a car driven by off-duty East St. Paul policeman Derek Harvey-Zenk smashed into her car as it sat at at red light. He had been drinking with colleagues after his shift the day before and likely still had alcohol in his system. Like Guimond, he refused a breathalyzer. Zenk was also convicted of dangerous driving causing death and also sentenced to house arrest.

So we waited. We waited for the reaction of the mainstream reporters, columnists, and broadcasters who had turned into a salivating lynch mob in the Zenk case. Surely they would be howling for the head of the prosecutor, the RCMP who made the arrest, or the judge who sentenced Guimond. Surely.

Last Saturday, McIntryre returned to the Guimond case. As in his first story, there was no mention of Taman or Zenk. Instead, he suggested the case was botched by the prosecutor who failed to call evidence from the senior RCMP officer she had been dating at the time Guimond was arrested and who would have testified to Guimond's refusal of a breath test. The romance had ended by the time of the trial.

The case actually fell apart at a preliminary hearing when Judge Mary Curtis disallowed evidence of a roadside breath test that Guimond failed. (Quick legal analysis from The Black Rod: Without the roadside test results, the Crown couldn't show a legal reason for demanding a breathalyzer, which is why the boyfriend's evidence couldn't be introduced to support a charge of refusing a breathalyzer. A Crown attorney might be boning up on libel law.)

We would have expected the media mob to be up in arms, again. After all, here was another example of a case botched by the RCMP. And here was clear evidence of drinking from Guimond's drinking partner who said they polished off most of a two-four of beer before Guimond decided to race another car.

Instead, silence.


Because the Guimond case is a direct repudiation of Roger Salhany, the commissioner at the Zenk show trial (disguised as a public inquiry).

Years ago, then-judge Salhany invented some new law for Ontario on drunk driving. Laws requiring proof that a motorist was impaired were antiquated, he said. All you needed to send a motorist to jail was evidence that he or she had been drinking, and had alcohol in their system. The level of alcohol was irrevelent. Forget .08.

And, he said, in the case of dangerous driving, the court needn't look for evidence of erratic driving prior to an accident; if you could show the driver had been drinking before he got behind the wheel, the judge can throw the book at him.

Using his own rulings as precedents, he smeared the reputation of special prosecutor Marty Minuk. Minuk accepted a plea deal for Zenk that included a joint recommendation with defence counsel of no jail time. That decision brought the administration of justice into disrepute, thundered Salhany.

The Guimond case vindicates Minuk, who argued he relied on Manitoba Court of Appeal precedents in sentencing. That wasn't good enough for the media mob which lumped him into an imaginary police cover-up to let one of their own escape justice.

Justice Joan McKelvey of Court of Queen's Bench, presiding over a real court, rejected Salahany's bizarre, self-amendments to the law, despite his near-canonization by the press pack, when she sentenced Guimond on the same principles Minuk relied upon.

And the media mob has said nothing.

Why? Because it's politically incorrect to demand the jailing of an aboriginal man? Or because Guimond is not a policeman and their contempt is reserved only for police?

Silence --- the sound of hypocrisy.

Watch them discover their voices when Salhany presides over his next show trial, the "review" into the murder trials prosecuted by former Crown attorney George Dangerfield.


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