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:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The case to elect judges: Exhibit A

Somebody get the man a crying towel. Then show him the EXIT door.

One of Manitoba's biggest bleeding heart judges was all weepy this week at having to sentence a local idiot to prison.

“I unfortunately have my hands tied,” bleated Judge Brent Stewart before imposing a mandatory minimum four year prison sentence on Jordan Flett.

Boo hoo hoo.

Stewart, you see, is from the hug-a-thug side of the fence. He was the founder of a Christian street ministry in The Pas and he started the Restorative Justice Program at the Peguis and Fairfort Indian reserves; you know, that deal where victims are supposed to give criminals a big hug and forgive them because the criminals said they were sorry.

Stewart couldn't bear putting stupid Jordan Flett behind bars. And for what?

For simply shooting a man down because he was in the way of Flett's original targets, his ex-girlfriend and her new beau.

At the time Flett was 18 and had never been in trouble with the law, to quote Winnipeg Sun reporter Dean Pritchard. So he just decided to skip all the intermediate steps and go from zero to homicide in one easy step.

Flett had been knocking back the beers for hours at a house party when his ex showed up with her new boyfriend, Stewart was told. The big baby was "inconsolable at that point,” said Crown attorney Rustyn Ullrich.

So he did what all these geniuses do in the circumstances. (Stop us if you've heard this a dozen times or more in the past year.) He told everyone he was going to get a gun. The other Einsteins at the party didn't call the police. Flett got a rifle then returned to the party.

We're not told what he had planned for his replacement and his former girlfriend, but when two pals tried to calm him down, he took aim through the gun scope and shot one of them in the upper leg.

Hey Judgie. We have two words for you. Femoral artery.

Luckily the bullet missed this main artery and the victim didn't bleed to death. Instead, Flett got to plead guilty to discharging a firearm with intent to cause bodily harm. And Stewart got to impose the mandatory sentence, but not without first whimpering “In my opinion, this is a perfect example of why minimum sentences shouldn’t be forced on the court without some discretion.”

Stewart is a prime candidate for Remedial Judge School. He needs a refresher on the principle called deterrence.

That is what mandatory sentences are about. They are the voice of the people who are sick and tired of watching criminals play the system. They exist to send the message that judges refuse to send.

Not that Judge Stewart doesn't understand deterrence. Only he's selective about when to apply it.

Last year he accepted a joint recommendation of 18 months house arrest for a man who sexually abused his daughter on a Hutterite colony.

“The concern I have is the message that would be given to the general public and perhaps other colonies,” Stewart said at the time. “I don’t want the message to get out that this type of conduct, ever, is acceptable to our society or theirs.”

But when it comes to near murder at a drinking party...? Eh.

Why is it that judges are always whining about their loss of discretion when having to impose mandatory prison sentences on violent criminals and drug dealers but there's nary a peep over the mandatory sentencing provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act that keep even the worst of young criminals on the street?

Where did Flett get a rifle so easily? Who knows? Apparently Crown attorney Ullrich didn't think that was important enough to tell the court.

Was anyone charged with failure to secure the weapon and ammunition? Or did Flett refuse to "rat" on the gun owner?

Is that a sign of a rehabilitated criminal? Or will four years behind bars refresh his memory.

The gun control debate has flared up again in Parliament and across the country and yet, here, a Manitoba judge does what he can to attack the legislation intended to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. He also wants Flett out of prison as soon as possible and in the minimum security Rockwood Institution, to undermine further the deterrent effect of the mandatory sentence.

Another two words spring to mind---elected judges.

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