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, September 30, 2010

Election Financing Scandal ignites in Mynarski ward

An election financing scandal with the potential of disqualifying all NDP-endorsed candidates in the Winnipeg civic election has erupted in Mynarski ward.

Comments made by NDP candidate Ross Eadie at an all-candidates forum on Monday have prompted a formal complaint to Elections Manitoba. The charges involve such a serious breach of election laws that any investigation must also include everyone running under the NDP banner in the election.

It will be the first test of Elections Manitoba since the retirement last April of former chief electoral officer Richard Balasko who helped the NDP cover up a scheme by the party during the provincial election of 1999 to file phony candidate expense forms and fraudulently collect rebates from the public purse.

During the all-candidates' forum at the Norquay Community Centre, Eadie...well, why don't we let an eyewitness tell the story.

AlexLV, as he calls himself, posted this play by play on the Winnipeg Free Press website Wednesday night:
Posted by: AlexLV

September 29, 2010 at 6:36 PM

Ross Eadie disrespected the people of point douglas and his fellow candidates at the debate on Monday. I was sent to this debate to cover it for a local community paper...Eadie's outburst followed a lot of theatrics, screaming and shaking, but it began when a question was posed to Polsky about party politics in city hall.

Eadie interrupted the candidates response by standing and yelling at the top of his lungs that he wouldn't have been able to run without the financial support of the NDP, but once he was elected he would drop his NDP ties.
Here's the problem---for Eadie and potentially all NDP-endorsed candidates. The Municipal Conflict of Interest and Campaign Financing Act passed one year ago (on October 8, 2009, to be exact) bans financial contributions from unions, organizations and political parties. Only individuals living in Manitoba can "make a contribution to a registered candidate."

If Eadie has been getting any sort of contribution to his campaign from the NDP, he's in big trouble.

But, then, Ross Eadie is no stranger to scandal and controversy. Remember O'Learygate?

O'Learygate, the quick summary:

In 2005, the Seven Oaks School Division, whose chairman was the former NDP campaign manager, Brian O'Leary (hence the name of the scandal), decided to go into land speculation to raise money for a new school (which had been rejected by the Public Schools Finance Board). This was illegal since the law stated school monies could only be used for school purposes which does not and never did include land speculation. So the school division, with Ross Eadie sitting as a trustee, bought land and subdivided it without telling the Schools Finance Board.

A local resident caught on and reported them to the Education Minister, who proceeded to a) lie to the whistleblower, then b) stall until the school division could hold a panic meeting to backdate documents to authorize the secret land dealing.

The provincial auditor was called in to investigate and she determined the school division lost $300,000 on the land development, but if you pretended the empty lot they were left with was an invisible school filled with invisible children, then you could pretend it was worth $800,000 to the school division and thus, presto, she said they made a profit.

Ross Eadie the school trustee has never explained what he knew about the illegal land development that lost the school division 300G's.

But now that AlexLV has filed a formal complaint with the elections organizers, he may have to explain what contributions he's been receiving from the NDP that allow him to run for city council.

Eadie responded on the FP website to comments about his behaviour but, pointedly, did not deny what he said about financial support from the NDP.

By all appearances, the Norquay all-candidates' forum was, before it blew up in their faces, supposed to be a tidy set-up to knock Jenny Motkaluk out of contention.

First the organizers failed to invite Motkaluk formally, citing, instead, a pro forma notification that the event was taking place, as the alleged invitation. Then the organizers made public comments disparaging Moktaluk and threatening to run their own campaign against her.

Who was behind this set-up?

Well....look what we find when we scan Ross Eadie's webpage.

First on the Supporters list is ... Sel Burrows, the former chairman of the Point Douglas Residents Committee and the former media contact for Steve Ashton when he was running as leader of the NDP in Manitoba.

"Ross Eadie has the best understanding of how to prevent crime in the North End." declared Burrows.

And who is the current executive director of the Point Douglas Residents Committee, you ask?
Why, government employee Chris(tine) McCarville. As the local newsletter put it:

"Chris McCarville was introduced as the new Executive Director, replacing Karen Peters who is home with her new daughter. Chris has extensive experience in community development, having worked as a board and staff member for LITE and as a co-op development officer with the Province of Manitoba. "

The candidates' forum degenerated into farce when Eadie wouldn't stop interrupting and speaking. Moderator Rob Galston finally had enough. He threw down his microphone and stormed out.

Eadie's response came in a comment posted with the Free Press last night:
"Either the moderator was to green to know how to run a forum, or he was in the camp of one of the candidates."

He concluded:

" At least I did not create a big lie around being invited."

A gentleman to the end.

The meeting was covered by both the NDP and the Winnipeg Free Press whose subsequent stories had nothing about Eadie's explosive revelation. Nor did they mention this slice of life in the neighbourhood which was reported belatedly in the FP comments by another attendee:

Posted by:
September 29, 2010 at 7:32 PM
I found the side show of entertainment offered very interesting. Outside the back door of the gymnasium, we had banging on the door, screaming, and when we went outside at the 1/2 time break, being bombarded by stones, with one hitting one of thr candidates and my wife's car that was parked there, all adding to the character of the area.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Have you no shame, Judy

It had to be the most cringeworthy political appearance in the current civic election.

Mayor Sam Katz and his challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis were asked to attend a candlelight vigil last night for Darren Walsh, the 24-year-old North End resident who was shot to death on a quiet Sunday afternoon while minding his own business waiting for a bus on Main Street just off Euclid.

Both attended, but Judy Alphabet (as she's known in media circles) must have chewed her lips raw at what she heard from Walsh's grief-stricken mother.

“Repeat offenders need to be kept behind bars longer and we need to get hold of the drug problem,” mother Nancy Goulet said.
Balderdash, thought Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

As an NDP Member of Parliament, Judy Alphabet fought against keeping criminals in prison. She fought to release as many as possible on house arrest, so they could stay home and watch television all day, and go out at night to roam with their criminal friends.

The NDP applauded the Youth Criminal Justice Act which replaced endless probation for jail sentences for young offenders. They bragged they kept the principles of deterrence and denunciation out of the Act to reduce the sentencing power of judges. And they are on record as rejecting deterrence as a legitimate principle of sentencing for adult offenders, too.

Having represented the second-most crime ridden section of Winnipeg, the issue most on her mind the year before she quit to run for mayor was banning flavoured cigarette papers.

Even the NDP government knows when to abandon social-worker justice. Faced with an epidemic of violent crime at Manitoba Housing residences, the social housing agency has announced it will be installing another 500 surveillance cameras.

That's crime cameras to identify and prosecute criminals, not social workers to hold their hands and discuss their traumatic family lives.

While the Mayor offered his emotional support to Goulet, Wasylycia-Leis used the vigil as a campaigning opportunity, twisting Goulet's message to promote her own hug-a-thug philosophy. As the Winnipeg Free Press reported:

"Wasylycia-Leis said city officials need to take note of Goulet's message about the importance of giving youth opportunities that will steer them clear of drugs, violence and gangs.
"We've got to find a way to stop the cycle of violence and crime on our streets," she said."

Winnipeg has had 11 years of social-worker justice under the provincial NDP, the people guiding JustJudy's campaign. They started their term in office in 1999 promising to attack the root causes of crime and revisited the well-tilled ground in Throne Speeches for years, always bragging about the non-judicial, anti-gang measures they had added this year to those last year and the year before. How's that worked, by the way?

The man arrested for the murder of Darren Walsh was a proud graduate of the NDP school of justice.

At 24 he would have spent almost all his teenage and early adult years under the NDP.

What did he learn? That there were no consequences under NDP Ministers of Justice for repeat criminal behaviour.

At the time of his arrest, he was banned from owning a gun because of a prior conviction. He's alleged to have ridden a bus, carrying a loaded shotgun, to the Main and Euclid location, then deliberately crossed the street to shoot the unarmed Walsh in broad daylight.

If only there had been a basketball court nearby where he could have checked his illegal gun and worked off his aggressions, eh, Judy.

Not only did JustJudy dishonour Darren Walsh by the hypocrisy of her attendance at the candlelight vigil, but she compounded the slap at decency by turning the event into a campaign stop.

Have you no shame?

Oh, wait. We're talking the NDP candidate for office. That answers that.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

End the City Hall Charade

What a golden opportunity.

After the last civic election, politicians and pundits moaned and groaned over the low voter turnout, 38.2 percent, the worst in 20 years.

While it was more a reflection of the unelectibility of the challengers to Mayor Sam Katz---a man-hating feminist and a man-loving homosexual activist---it also demonstrated how little engagement there was between the citizens of the city and their alleged political representatives.

Barely more than one in three thought it worthwhile to vote. It sent a bad signal to city hall.

Over the next four years city councillors pretty much ignored the wishes of Winnipeg taxpayers to do whatever they wanted, comfortable in the thought they would never be held to account.

Of course they paid lip service to "public consultations", holding sham surveys of public opinion which they then used as an excuse to ram their own pet projects through.

And all the while they cried crocodile tears at the poor turnout in civic elections.

Well, you know what they say about wishes---be careful what you wish for, it might come true.

We have one tiny golden opportunity to double the voter turnout of the last election.


The law permits city council to ask the province to add non-binding plebiscites to the ballot. And what a better time than now?

There are a handful of important and costly decisions that have been debated at city hall, with no final resolution. This October, we can be able to say with certainty what the public really thinks about these matters. No more guessing. No more pontificating. No more alleging.

1. A new stadium
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz and unelected Premier Greg Selinger, the dirtiest politician in Manitoba, have signed on to a deal to build a new football stadium at public expense for the benefit of one man, failed businessman David Asper.

If that isn't fishy enough, the deal calls for Asper to have the exclusive right to buy the land where the existing stadium stands and the exclusive right to buy the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for a bargain basement price. If he doesn't exercise either option, then the public taxpayer will bail him out of the deal and pay his share for the stadium.

Asper has already reneged on a public pledge to cover cost overruns on the new stadium and he doesn't have the money to either buy the team or buy the land at Polo Park.

But Sam Katz and Greg Selinger remain committed to the deal, although at this point nobody knows how much a new stadium will cost, what it will look like, or who will pay what share.

Two proposed ballot questions:

Should Winnipeg be part of any agreement to build a new football stadium without knowing how much it costs or what part of the cost the city is responsible for?
Yes No

Given that the existing deal to build a new football stadium benefits a sole entity with no explanation why, should we issue a new bid for proposals for a new stadium, open to everyone.
Yes No

2. BRT or LRT
Phase One of a bus rapid transit line to the University of Manitoba is almost finished. Phase Two was estimated to cost $189 million which would be co-funded by the province.

The Mayor says costs have already exceeded the estimate. He wants to replace Phase Two of BRT with a LIght Rail Transit (LRT) line. LRT will cost $325 million at least, but the Mayor believes he can get the federal government to pay part of the cost.

Should we finish Phase Two of bus rapid transit?
Yes No

Should we delay Phase Two of BRT until we know how much it would cost the city to install LRT instead?
Yes No

How long should we wait for an answer?
One Year? More (fill in your answer)

3. Disraeli Bridge

The existing Disraeli Bridge must be replaced very soon. The public was given three options of a replacement. The public chose Option Two which would cost $140 million. The city, without further public consultations, decided to build two bridges simultaneously, one for bicycle traffic only, at a cost of $195 million (and counting) with the province contributing $55 million. The benefit will be that the bridge can remain partially open throughout construction which could take a year and a half.

Given that the public chose the mid-priced option for a replacement bridge..
And given that they were aware of the bridge closure during construction...
And given that the provincial contribution is just taxpayers' money from a different pocket, and won't cover the entire cost of the double-bridge project....

Should the Disraeli Bridge replacement project be capped? Should there be a top price which, if exceeded in the tendering process, would trigger a reversal to the public's choice of a $140 million bridge?
Yes No

You get the point.

Let the people speak.

There's no reason to trust the politicians to make your point for you, not when they've got their hands deep, deep in your pocket.

City council can put a series of questions on these expensive matters on the ballot.

By doing so, they can stimulate public discussion and involvement, reverse the decline in voter turnout, and see true democracy at work

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Monday, September 20, 2010

The ABC's of Judy Alphabet's Tax promises

Surprise. Surprise. The NDP candidate for mayor of Winnipeg wants to raise taxes.
Now that's a shocker. NOT.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis, aka Judy Alphabet (as media people call her) , aka JustJudy (as she wants to be called) announced last week she thinks taxes are too low in Winnipeg. She wants to raise them at least 8 percent (two percent a year for four years).

By declaring her lust for higher taxes, JustJudy managed to demonstrate:

A - her ignorance about how the city raises and spends tax dollars.
B - her slavish adherence to the NDP party line, and
C - how, despite both the above, she's still managing to score points against incumbent Sam Katz.

JustJudy just won't let the facts get in her way. If she had bothered to do any research, such as speaking with Councillor Gord Steeves she would know:

* Winnipeg's operating budget is growing by 4 percent this year, eight times the rate of inflation (0.5 percent). That's EIGHT times inflation.

* Winnipeg's capital budget has grown 250 percent since 2001. In simple words that even a former NDP MP can understand, we're spending two and a half times more today on city infrastructure than we spent in 2001.

She never bothered speaking with Transcona Councillor Russ Wyatt, the city's former infrastructure czar who's on the outs with the NDP establishment for his attitude while supporting Steve Ashton for leader of the party.

He would have told her of the reports he received putting Winnipeg's infrastructure deficit into numbers: $380 million to fix the potholes, sidewalks, bridges and broken watermains each year, plus $360 million per year to build new roads, new sewers and new bridges to keep up with the growth of the city.

This year we're spending $430.6 million on infrastructure. Last year we spent even more, $476 million. We're more than keeping up with infrastructure repairs. Or, at least, we could be.

If we're not fixing potholes fast enough, it's not because there's no money; it's because the politicians have spent the money somewhere else.

And starting in 2013, Winnipeg will see the end of the tunnel of debt built up in the Norrie years.

Between 2013 and 2017, we'll pay off the last of the debt, said Steeves, leaving the city between $40 million to $45 million in pocket which has been going to interest payments. That's the equivalent of a ten percent increase in taxes.

JustJudy wants to raise about $9 million a year from higher taxes, a number city engineers snort at when pencilling in the cost of each city project. The Provencher Bridge was at least six million dollar over budget. One water plant was $30 million over. IF we could bring projects in on time and on budget we could fix what needs to be fixed, add what needs to be added, and still cut taxes.

But that's not the NDP way. Raising taxes and spending money willy nilly is.

So how does JustJudy intend to spend the money from higher taxes? She's already told us.

She wants to waive the $9 million a year the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is supposed to pay in lieu of city taxes. In other words, she wants to raise the taxes on your house so millionaire Gail Asper and her millionaire friends don't have to pay their taxes on the museum nobody wanted in the first place. The tax money will go to subsidize the taxpayer funded museum.

JustJudy failed to mention that her NDP pals on Broadway have been interfering with city planning for years. Winnipeg city council this spring formally adopted a list of 11 infrastructure priorities which could be financed from federal stimulus money. But the NDP insisted that $212 million be spent to build CentrePort Canada Way, a four-lane divided expressway linking the inland port at the airport to the Perimeter Highway, a project not on the city's priority list.

And Winnipeg is spending almost $1 billion on water plant upgrades forced upon us by the provincial NDP most of which is to be finished in time for their reelection campaign.

Today, Monday, JustJudy added a new reason for her proposed tax increase---the alleged "harm" done by the 13 years of a tax freeze. This is a mini-version of the provincial NDP's excuse for its spending orgy of the past decade--- blame Filmon.

You would think that Sam Katz would take the golden campaign issue handed him by his challenger and run with it. You would be wrong. Katz fumbled badly.

Asked his position on city taxes, Katz, despite a week or more to prepare an answer, said he had none. He was waiting for a committee report which won't be available until after the election, he said.

Maybe Katz should step aside and let the committee run for mayor.

The public demands a simple answer from every mayoral candidate---where do you stand on taxes. Katz lived down to JustJudy's blast that he's not a leader.

He failed to demonstrate a smidgeon of leadership in the tax debate and playing catch-up is a sure way to lose support.

Katz muttered something about maybe, possibly, having higher taxes if they are dedicated for something or other. Instead of saying what he meant( i.e. you want more police, it will cost this much, I think you are willing to pay $30 a year for more police) he thought he could get away with playing politician and smoothly ducking the question.

He's wrong.
He was even more wrong by using the day to pledge a $1.2 million fund for community centres.
That might have been a big deal once upon a time.

But people have heard Katz declare that his personal priority for Winnipeg is not recreation for children, but a trendy electric train for south Winnipeg commuters to play with. The bill? $325 million to start. Add the usual 30 percent cost overrun and you're looking at $422 million to fund Sam Katz's legacy.

By his own accounting, it costs $50 million a kilometre to build the light rail transit line he has his eye on. That's 50 years of community centre funding. FIFTY YEARS.

Your lifetime and half your childrens' lifetimes to fund one single kilometre of an electric train to the University of Manitoba.

And how does he intend to pay for it? By borrowing money.

You know, like Bill Norrie did to lock us into a generation of debt which we're just about to pay off.

Is Judy Wasylycia-Leis the irresponsible one?

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Brooms sweeping top dogs out of 510 Main before civic election

What's going on?

First, Winnipeg's top bureaucrat announces he is leaving the big city to go back to Hooterville.

Then, yesterday, the head of the Winnipeg Parking Authority took time from polishing the award he got in May, for doing such a bang-up job here, to deliver his resignation.

It was Biebermania for big folks when Glen Laubenstein was hired in 2008 to be Winnipeg's Chief Administrative Officer, the man responsible for turning the levers that make the city run. Councillors swooned in his presence. They wrote poetry over his plans to rewrite the book on running a city.

And then....poof. Gone. From reading multi-million dollar contracts he's reading the bus schedule to Wood Buffalo (nee Fort McMurray), Alberta, population 64,000 counting coyotes.

And what about the parking authority's Dave Hill. Four months ago he was collecting the award for "Parking Professional of the Year," at the International Parking Institute Convention & Expo in Las Vegas.

"It's the Academy Award of parking," he said at the time.

Today he's Lindsay Lohan. Two weeks notice before they black out his name on the marquee and replace it with TBA.

St. Boniface Councillor Danny Vandal mused that Winnipeg is just a dysfunctional city that makes it impossible for city administrators to thrive.

Or is it that the city administrators are too dysfunctional to make the city thrive?

Lest we forget that Laubenstein was the bureaucratic power behind the Disraeli Bridge Fiasco and the New Stadium Disaster, projects that are going to wind up costing us tens of millions of dollars more than expected.

City councillors gave Laubenstein carte blanche authority to handle the job of replacing the venerable Disraeli Bridge. By the time he got through with it, the public's wishes had been flushed down the toilet and the final design reflected the opinions of a tiny lobby group that somehow got his ear. And the cost was, well, unknown ---but somewhere far, far north of the most expensive option specifically rejected during the farcical so-called "public consultations."

Exactly how big a hole Laubenstein left in the budget won't be known until the bridge is built in a year or two.

By then we may also know the size of the stadium disaster. What we know so far is that the city is a partner to a facility nobody can describe being built at a cost nobody knows. But we've agreed to pay millionaire moocher David Asper millions of dollars in profit for his construction company to build the thing even though he's reneged on his promise to cover all cost overruns and wants to stick the Winnipeg taxpayer with the bill.

You can understand why Laubenstein doesn't want to stick around for that cheque.

Dave Hill, also known as the man who thought putting parking meters in residential areas was a peachy idea, was supposed to be raising money to pay for Laubenstein's follies. But to do it, he got "creative."

Like when he ordered tickets for parking on Saturday after 3.30 PM, and on civic holiday Mondays. When people complained that weekend parking was free, he sneered 'It's a custom, not a law.'

So is tarring and feathering, but the public has restrained itself so far.

The decapitations at the top of two of the city bureaucracies may be a signal that the working model of the city is under review.

You have to look beyond the trees to see the forest.

Under Sam Katz, the city was slowly being decentralized. The running of the city was being spun off from City Hall to obscure independent agencies.

Dave Hill ran the parking authority. There's a transit authority. Council last year approved a water authority to handle water and sewer services, and a garbage authority. And goodness knows how many other "authorities" there are and what they do.

We know what they're supposed to do---take the heat off the city councillors. So the transit authority would set bus rates, and the water authority would determine your water bill and the garbage authority would ultimately decided how your garbage was picked up and how much it would cost you, because, don't kid yourself, pricing garbage removal is the ultimate goal.

As these decisions were farmed out to "independent" agencies, city councillors couldn't be held accountable. Just like the Disraeli Bridge fiasco.

What, exactly, would be role of city councillors under this model? Sitting around and pontificating about "vision" or "the big picture?"

Puh-lease. Between the pet projects of the Aspers and Sam Katz's grandiose plans electric trains we're already being bled dry.

Hooterville looks better every day .

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

JustJudy just missing real crime platform

By now the Left knows its losing the election for mayor of Winnipeg--- bigtime.

There were two ways for the election campaign to go. For the anointed candidate of the Left, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, to win, the election had to be focused on incumbent Sam Katz, his record of secret backroom deals, and his grandiose plans to spend half a billion dollars on a legacy project to use electric trains as public transit.

Instead, JustJudy (as she wants to be known) is fighting Sam Katz's fight over the #1 issue in Winnipeg, crime and public safety.

It's a fight JustJudy can't win. She spent 11 years as an NDP member of Parliament during which she worked against the interests of Winnipeg when voting on every crime bill presented by the Conservative government. She opposed every effort to keep criminals behind bars and supported every move to let criminals on the streets earlier.

When the government tried to make criminals convicted of major crimes ineligible for house arrest as their sentence, the NDP voted to defeat the proposed change.

As a result, you could still get "sentenced" to stay home and watch television for the following crimes (by section of the Criminal Code):
1. subsection 88(1) (possession of weapon for dangerous purpose)
2. section 144 (prison breach)
3. section 221 (causing bodily harm by criminal negligence)
4. subsection 249(3) (dangerous operation causing bodily harm)
5. subsection 252(1.2) (offence involving bodily harm)
6. subsection 255(2) (impaired driving causing bodily harm)
7. section 264 (criminal harassment)
8. section 267 (assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm)
9. section 279 (kidnapping, forcible confinement)
10. section 279.02 (trafficking in persons — material benefit)
11. section 281 (abduction of person under 14)
12. section 283 (abduction)
13. section 334 (a) (theft)
14. paragraph 348(1)(e) (breaking and entering with intent, committing offence or breaking out)
15. section 349 (being unlawfully in dwelling-house)
16. section 435 (arson for fraudulent purpose)
17. paragraphs 5(3)(a) and (b), Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (trafficking)
18. paragraphs 6(3)(a) and (b), Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (importing and exporting)
19. paragraphs 7(2)(a) and (c), Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (production)
20. section 75 (piracy)
21. section 78 (taking offensive weapon or explosive substance on board aircraft)
22. section 98 (break and enter to steal or with intent to steal a firearm)
23. section 98.1 (robbery to steal or with intent to steal a firearm)
24. section 119 (bribery of judicial officers)
25. section 120 (bribery of officers)
26. section 240 (accessory after the fact to murder)
27. section 344 (b) (robbery)
28. paragraph 346(1.1)(b) (extortion)
29. paragraph 348(1)(d) (break and enter, dwelling place)
30. section 434 (arson, damage to property)
Why did Judy Wasylycia-Leis side with criminals during her stint in Parliament? Because the NDP doesn't believe in deterrrence as a principle of sentencing.

NDP justice critic Joe Comartin is on the record in Parliament and out as declaring "deterrence doesn't work." Comartin spoke for his Parliamentary colleagues including JustJudy. She's trying her best to deny it now, but she never uttered a peep to contradict Comartin during her years in Ottawa.

Katz has demonstrated he's at least listened to the people on crime matters. He's promised more police, some dedicated to fighting gangs and some to street patrols, the latter being an initiative that's topped every neighbourhood's wish list for years.

JustJudy, demonstrating her tin ear on public safety matters, has rolled out her public safety platform---more social workers and more social engineering.

She's promised more recreation workers to encourage kids to skip and play at community "hubs" instead of joining gangs. And this week she pledged to hire dozens of unskilled gang members to work for the city fixing back lanes, pruning elm trees or boarding up derelict buildings for the city. It would keep them out of gangs, she said. And they would all become dues paying union members, said union boss Mike Davidson, president of JustJudy-backing CUPE.

"Their efforts could help the city tackle its backlog of infrastructure-renewal projects and also provide relief for the city's labour shortage, Wasylycia-Leis added", according to the Winnipeg Free Press.

(What city labour shortage? Put up a Help Wanted sign, Sam, and you'll need a big stick to beat off the applicants. And they'll all have better work records than gang members fresh out of prison.)

The only reason JustJudy isn't laughed out of town is because the news media is running interference for her as much as possible.

They have failed to report her voting record as an MP. And they have failed to explain that her public safety platform consists of dusty planks from the provincial NDP campaigns of years past.
Let's see....

Addressing the "root causes" of crime? The NDP trotted that hoary cliche out ten years ago, then repeated it in Throne Speeches for years after.

Diverting kids from gangs? Obviously JustJudy didn't spend enough time in Winnipeg to hear the NDP chatter on endlessly about their program of "lighthouses" to do just that. Ten years later, how's that working? Oh, yeah, more kids in gangs than ever before.

The social worker model of crimefighting has been tried and tested in Winnipeg for a decade at least under the NDP. Any legitimate candidate for mayor would know the results.

All you have to do is read the week's crime report---a woman beaten senseless by a mob of teen boys and girls, then almost raped before police arrived to drive her attackers away; a man minding his own business deliberately set on fire and mutilated for life by a teenaged mugger; a middle-aged man stabbed almost to death walking home from a neighbourhood bingo game; sister killing sister; a teenaged murderer who shot three people in cold blood wanting a reduced sentence because he was a juvenile when he walked into a house filled with people and began randomly shooting everyone he could.

What's the common thread through this litany of murder and mayhem?

People who have lived their lives under the NDP's crimefighting strategies.

The exact same strategies being proposed by Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

CMHR S.O.S.: Admiral Gail Asper adds deck chairs to sinking ship

The wheels have fallen off the bus.

The biggest shills for the un-built Canadian Museum for Human Rights tried singing a lusty chorus of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" to overwhelm the grisly facts Tuesday, but it was no use.

What we know, courtesy of the Winnipeg Free Press and their echo, the CBC:

* Gail Asper, the prime mover of the museum, is abandoning the sinking ship. She's leaving her role as chief fundraiser for the CMHR to, ahem, concentrate on other projects.

* She and museum CEO Stu Murray, who was hired explicitly for his expertise in fundraising, have failed to raise a dime towards the $45 million cost overruns on the museum in over a year. You know, the overruns the private sector pledged to cover and which they then tried to renege on last year.

* Not only is there no money to pay for the construction of the CMHR, there's no money to bring the thousands of students who were supposed to make up the bulk of the attendance at the museum. Uh oh.

* And last, but not least, construction is already a year behind schedule.

The FP and CBC tried to put the best spin on the dreadful news. The Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the charitable foundation behind the CMHR, is expanding, they cheered. Expanding, you see. That's good, isn't it? Isn't expanding a positive thing?

" Right now, all 12 members of the board are from Manitoba; in the future, the revamped board will include 12 directors from Manitoba, and another 12 from across Canada."

"The changes to be officially announced later this week mean the Aspers and (Moe Levy, executive director of the Asper Foundation) will no longer carry the burden as the primary private fundraisers..." wrote reporter Dan Lett.

Whoopee. Twice as many people to raise money. Goodness knows Gail Asper must be getting tired of running all those grapes stomp-a-thons all by herself.

"I'm looking forward to focusing again on other projects at the Asper Foundation, which were sort of put on the back burner while we worked on the museum." she declared.

There's only one reason rats desert a ship. It's going down fast and they don't want to go down with it.

In other words, she's running as fast as she can to put as much air as possible between herself and the white elephant she's saddled the taxpayer with before the facts are revealed.

One inconvenient fact is the still unresolved cost overruns.

"The project is still about $45 million short," wrote Lett.

There are only two ways to look at this. Lett got it right. Or he got it wrong.

If he got it wrong, he has to explain how a highly paid, professional reporter with editors couldn't get his facts right. If he got it right, he forgot to explain how the cost of the project increased by $9 million since the spring.

You see, Gail Asper conceded in May, 2009, that The Black Rod got it right when we crunched the numbers and estimated the CMHR was $50- to $55-million over budget. They managed to slice $10 million off the ballooning deficit and announced they were only $45 million in the soup.

In May of 2010, Gail Asper announced a $2 million donation from, as CBC described it, "a cluster of companies including Power Corporation of Canada, Great West Life, London Life and Canada Life, and Investors Group."

"But", said the CBC, " $36 million still needs to be raised, according to The Friends of the Museum, a charity created to promote the establishment of the museum and act as its fundraising organization."

Less than four months later, the Winnipeg Free Press says "the project is $45 million short." Back to square one without a peep from the MSM.

Is it any wonder that Stu Murray told the FP that things look very bad for the kiddies who were expected to fill the museum.

"Murray said the revamped Friends foundation will be an important contributor to programming at the museum. Although Ottawa has agreed to provide $22 million annually for basic operation costs, more money is needed to send school-age children from around the country to study at the museum."

"The revamped Friends foundation will be expected to raise between $9 million and $12 million annually to support programming, Murray said."

You don't need to be Einstein to see where this is going.

* Costs out of control.
* The chief fundraiser headed for the hills.
* They can't pay their taxes.

And three more years to go.

The CMHR website contains this info:

Construction FAQ
Construction Facts and Figures

Milestone Dates

Construction begins: Spring 2009

Construction duration: 3 years

Construction completion: Summer 2012

But the update in the Winnipeg Free Press says: "Murray said that as the museum nears its opening in the spring of 2013..."

If costs are going up at the rate of $2 million a month, how high will they soar by the spring of 2013?

We're too scared to figure it out.
Because we know who's going to have to pay for it.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Why did MSM ignore Tom Brodbeck's sexy stadium exclusive

Maybe, if we can associate failed businessman David Asper with an attraction to large, naked black men, we can generate some news coverage of the biggest story in Winnipeg.

This week the city's news outlets rushed to follow CBC's masturbatory interracial sex fantasy story (black man claims he was recruited to have sex with white wife) while ignoring the true news scoop by Winnipeg Sun columnist Tom Brodbeck involving a threesome of Winnipeg's most influential men---Asper, Mayor Sam Katz and unelected Premier Greg Selinger.

Oh, not that kind of threesome. Sorry.

We meant a business arrangement involving the three men, as in getting into bed together to announce a new stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and in the process screwing the taxpayer. As in the CBC sex "scandal", there is no sex. But there is plenty of scandal in Brodbeck's exclusive story.

"But Asper says the initial agreement that requires him to cover all cost overruns in the stadium deal is no longer valid if the cost of the project exceeds its original $115 million price tag," wrote Brodbeck (Somebody's gotta pay, Winnipeg Sun, Aug. 30, 2010).

Say what? Asper's pledge to cover cost overruns only existed as long as there were no overruns? Yeah, that makes sense, doesn't it?

He told Brodbeck, presumably with a straight face, that he never expected that the cost of construction would be more than the estimate. Construction costs were lower in the spring, he said. So by the time the deal was announced, on March 31, it was too late. The window was shut. The moment had passed. Coitus interruptus.

Asper didn't tell anyone the deal was off for another five months. Like all men, he was ashamed he couldn't perform. But now that tenders are out and expected to be at least $25 million more than the first estimate, Asper decided to come clean.
Forget it boys, he's telling his partners, Sam and Greg. You've got to cover the bill. I'll get the tip.

There's one part of the deal Asper doesn't want to change. He still intends to buy the Winnipeg Blue Bombers by paying $75 million of the cost of the stadium.

There's one problem with that scenario.

When the stadium cost $115 million, $75 mil was 65 percent. If the bill for the stadium is now $139 million plus, $75 mil is only 53 percent.

So Asper wants to buy the team at a discount. He doesn't live in Winnipeg anymore, but he's still looking for a discount

You would think this story of reneging on a pledge and renegotiating a multi-multi-million deal on the fly would be big news. Especially since its part of a pattern with the Aspers. His sister Gail pledged the private sector would cover the cost overruns on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, then as soon as there were cost overruns, she went running to Sam Katz and Greg Selinger's predecessor Gary Doer for a bailout. Then she stiffed the city on property taxes.

At last count, adding the cost overruns of the museum and the stadium, the taxpayer will be tapped for at least $50 million by the Aspers.

How much of any city tax increase will go to prop up these "Top 30" influential panhandlers?

In order to report the salacious details of black-on-white sex, CBC had to frame it as a question of "character", as in the woman who didn't have sex with the black man is a judge and it's the public interest to judge her character.

David Asper is a lawyer. He teaches students at the university of Manitoba. Shouldn't we examine his character?

Once upon a time a man's character was judged by how he kept his word in business. But that was then.

Now, maybe in the spirit of this week's 'new journalism', we can examine why he wants to spend $75 million for the right to sit in the Bombers dressing room and watch large naked black men walk out the showers, their ebony bodies steaming, their big, uh, muscles bulging.

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