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.

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:

Sunday, April 04, 2010

David Asper hitches the Blue Bombers to the NDP bandwagon

With a barrage of insults aimed at the leader of the Manitoba P. C. Party, millionaire moocher David Asper has politicized the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team.

Asper was spitting mad at Opposition leader Hugh McFadyen on CJOB last Thursday for expressing doubt that Asper could repay the $90 million that the NDP is lending him to build a new stadium and become the team's owner.

"Everybody needs to stay focused... and not get distracted by Mr. McFadyen's cheap slogans," hissed Asper.

"It's so incredibly disappointing, frankly, to hear the scope of how uniformed or ill-informed he is."

"You really have to wonder the value of his contribution to this debate."

"It's a fundamental, fundamental, misunderstanding by Mr. McFadyen of what this deal is all about."

"I just find it very disappointing and, you know, I think that Mr. McFadyen certainly has the education to be a smart person but..." Asper sneered, condescendingly, before throwing his current, and the Blue Bombers' future, support to his champion, NDP leader Greg Selinger.

"... you juxtapose that---you sort of compare that to the guts that it takes from the Premier and the Mayor to actually make something good sure takes guts to make something happen..."

By turning the Winnipeg Blue Bombers into a partisan political football, Asper, and Selinger, have poisoned the well of goodwill that's fed the team through good years and bad.

They have made supporting the Bombers synonymous with supporting the NDP and the team may pay the price for that if Asper becomes its owner.

McFadyen's sin? Simply asking the obvious question: why should we believe David Asper?

Asper has already failed to live up to his grandiose plan to build a high-end shopping centre at Polo Park and use the profits to finance a new stadium for the Bombers. He came begging to the team for an extension of time last fall, then in the winter, he came begging secretly to Selinger for an infusion of government money to finance his pet project.

Selinger, the dirtiest politician in Manitoba, knowingly allowed his protege Rosann Wowchuk to present a phony budget to the Legislature, a budget which contained not a word about financing a stadium for David Asper.

A week later, Selinger announced his government was borrowing money to bail out a millionaire to the tune of $90 million.

But even that's not completely true. Hugh McFadyen is absolutely correct that the true figure is $105 million.

The NDP is also picking up the University of Manitoba's end of the stadium deal, $15 million. The University says it will pay back the money, through naming rights, for example. But not until five years after the stadium is built.

Yep, they will pay to build the stadium five years after its built. That's New Democonomics.

Adding $105 million to an already bloated deficit of $545 million is an increase of 21 percent---in one week.

Will any MLA ask that Selinger be named in contempt of the Legislature for submitting a misleading budget?

McFadyen wondered if Asper's still-to-be-built shopping centre can turn a big enough return to repay $90 million over the next six years, when the payback clock stops, plus interest of about $5 million a year.

Is Asper's frantic response a sign of ... worry that McFadyen's right?

Haven't we seen this picture before?

Remember ......... the Canadian Museum for Human Rights?

Spearheaded by David's sister and fellow leech, Gail, it was supposed to be privately funded, until expenses went wildly out of control, and it was foisted on the taxpayer as a national museum (that nobody wanted). Then the museum's backers promised a Senate subcommittee that taxpayers would never, ever be on the hook for any construction overruns.

Except, when they confessed they were at least $45 million in the glue, who did they go running to for the money? You know it---the taxpayer.

David Asper proposed to build a stadium at his own expense with minimal contributions from government. Now government is paying the whole shot (yeah, yeah, Asper is supposed to come up with $10 million dollars; hands up those who believe we'll see that). And if Asper fails to repay the loan, Selinger proposes to take the property and school taxes on the shopping centre land away from Winnipeg homeowners and students, and use it to repay Asper's debt instead.

Asper's nose was out of joint at McFadyen's merest suggestion that the best developers would have trouble squeezing $90 million in profit out of a mall in its first six years of existence (not to mention it doesn't exist yet.)

Nonsense, "coming from somebody who's never done a business deal in his life, which is Mr. McFadyen..." snorted Asper, who proceeded to claim great expertise for himself and Creswin Properties in developing shopping centres.

In fact, he said, the world's largest shopping centre convention occurs in Las Vegas in May, and Asper will have a display there.

Eat that, McFadyen. David Asper will have a booth at a shopping centre convention. If that isn't the sign of a professional, what is?

"And I can tell you that at the moment we have about 1.2 million square feet of interest that has spoken up for what is 640,000 sq. ft shopping centre." he told CJOB.

Wow. All that "interest." That's almost like all the "asks" that Gail Asper had out a year ago and which, she said, would begin pouring millions into the CMHR any day now.

Any day now. Any day. Now. Any. Day.

But David Asper certainly has his business acumen to fall back on.

* He was, for example executive vice president of Canwest Global when it stiffed about 60 former employees, including local favourites Meera Bahadoosingh and Andrea Slobodian, of their vacation pay.

The company did, however, squirrel away $9.8 million to pay bonuses to executives.

* And he did try to start up a hip hop radio station. We wrote about that in The Black Rod:
"Phat David bought up the private owner of 'Flava' and set up a company called YO Management to run the station. He promised the CRTC everything under the sun to let him keep the license, including taking over all the debts to former staff owed by 'Flava'."
Devol Dryden, a DJ and Flava radio host, believed David Asper and took him at at his word. When he tried to collect $10,000 he was owed after winning a federal Labour Board order, only to get the royal Asper runaround at every turn.

He finally wrote to the CRTC during the hearing process to plead his case. Frank Magazine found Dryden's letter in the CRTC files, from which we quoted:
"I was supposedly a student representative on the board. For the record, I was never a student in any affiliated school course," he wrote in his intervention. "I was never invited to a board meeting, I never saw or approved minutes of a board meeting, and I was never invited to an Annual General Meeting."
"I see that the new supposed management of Harmony Broadcasting includes David Asper. Mr. Asper is behind a museum of human rights that going to cost a few million dollars. Human Rights? Here I am being treated like a black slave, being cheated out of my wages by someone Mr. Asper wants to reward with a high-paying guaranteed job, and he's sitting there saying 'Nothing personal, boy. Just business'."
* And remember those big plans to turn Portage and Main into a mini-Times Square?

Yeah. We barely do, too.

* Oh, and according to a legal document for a mortgage on a shopping centre in Arizona, cited on David Watson's blog Waverly West And Beyond:

Westpoint Crossing: Barclay Creswin Retail LLC

"Creswin Properties Ltd. (formerly known as Asper Properties) is headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and serves as the real estate division of CanWest Global Communications Corp. ("CanWest," NYSE: CWG), an international media company."

How, exactly, does the break-up of the Canwest Global empire affect its "real estate division"?

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