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

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Caught redhanded: FP election reporter belongs to anti-Katz group

They just can't help themselves.

They've become so used to getting away with injecting their political bias into their reporting that they don't even try to hide it anymore.

Mary Agnes Welch is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press and a member of their "crack" election team providing (what they claim is) "Winnipeg's most comprehensive in-depth civic election coverage".

And, until late Thursday afternoon, she was also a member in good standing of the Winnipeg Citizen's Coalition Facebook group.

You know, the left-wing bunch created in 2008 to defeat Sam Katz and any councillor who supports him.

To prove the adage of the Internet Age, "everybody knows something", a sharp-eyed reader of the Free Press called Welch out in the comments to one of her recent stories, the one telling how a Free Press commissioned poll found that Judy Alphabet's fight-poverty-not-criminals plan is wildly popular with the public.

The spin of the opening paragraphs take on a new perspective, n'est pas:
"Winnipeggers don't feel any safer than they did four years ago and they're split on whether Mayor Sam Katz's tough-on-crime pledges will help."
"A new poll by Leger Marketing for the Winnipeg Free Press and the CBC found voters split down the middle on the right approach to crime-fighting."
" Half support the root-causes strategy mayoral hopeful Judy Wasylycia-Leis touts, which includes more cash for recreation centre programs and a real plan to combat poverty."

One of our readers compiled the relevant exchange (H/T to EJay):

Posted by: Pumpkin Jack
October 21, 2010 at 7:50 AM
Isn't it a conflict of interest to have a member of the Winnipeg
Citizen's Coalition, whose main purpose is to bring Sam Katz down,
spinning poll results, oh excuse me, 'writing an article' on the
mayoral race?
Or should I say
'some people' would 'suggest' that there 'could appear' to be a
conflict of interest with a 'possible' member of the WCC writing an
article for the Free Press.
Posted by: MA Welch
October 21, 2010 at 11:00 AM
@ Pumpkin Jack
Are you referring to me?
If so, I can assure you I have never and would never be a member of
the WCC - no reporter at the Free Press would be. I've never even
covered one of their meetings or events, to the best of my
If you disagree with my interpretation of the poll, I would be happy
to hear your views.
posted by: MA Welch
Posted by: Pumpkin Jack
October 21, 2010 at 2:16 PM
@Mary Agnes
Then why are you one of their 'member's' on their Facebook group?
Again I say; 'some people' would 'suggest' that there 'could appear'
to be a conflict of interest.
October 21, 2010 at 3:19 PM
@ Pumpkin Jack
I just checked and I am indeed a member of the WCC Facebook group,
though I have no memory of joining. I have removed myself.
Thanks for the heads up.


So a member of the Free Press election team "forgot" she belonged to a group dedicated to defeating the incumbent mayor.

Oh yeah, that's believable.

Obviously another example of Free Press Amnesia to rival the mass amnesia that hit the newsroom the day after The Black Rod reported how FP employees helped themselves to a ton of pork stolen from Winnipeg Harvest, paid for by the province and designated for Harvest's poor and hungry clients.

Mary Agnes Welch would be on the same crack team of reporters that:

- ignored the confession by the NDP's Mynarski candidate Ross Eadie that he couldn't afford to run for office without funding from the Party (something expressly against the law),
- called the mayoral election a "neck-and-neck" contest Saturday while burying on page A7 -- in a election column of briefs -- the story of a Global News poll showing Katz with a 20-point lead, and
- failed to recognize the chronic failure of "public consultation" as an election issue until almost the final week of campaigning.

When Judy Wasylycia-Leis was on a CTV mayoral candidates forum she was asked point-blank this question about the floundering proposed new stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bonmbers: Will you spend whatever it takes to complete the project---that's the initial design..?"

Her answer? "Yes."

Yes, Judy would give David Asper a blank cheque to build a stadium at whatever unknown cost.

How much coverage did the crack FP team of election reporters, which includes Bartley Kives and Dan Lett, give this bombshell?


The Winnipeg Free Press did report another bombshell from the Judy camp, though it didn't come from the crack team of election reporters, it came through the back door Saturday from the editorial board.

In a waffling editorial that refused to endorse either candidate, the FP revealed this astonishing news:
" Leave aside the rhetoric; an eight per cent increase in tax rates will produce $32 million a year. Judy said she would dedicate half the money -- $16 million a year -- to borrowing $200 million to increase infrastructure spending to $1.56 billion over four years from $1.36 billion under a freeze. Given that the infrastructure deficit is $4 billion, this tax-and-spend scheme doesn't amount to much. Further, after the four-year borrowing scheme ends, the $16 million will be required each year for 16 more years to pay back the $200 million, resulting in taxpayers spending $320 million over 20 years to get $200 million of infrastructure over four years..."

Where did this come from? This has never been reported before.

There's not even a clue on Judy Wasylycia-Leis' webpage that she intends to borrow $200 million to fund her infrastructure promises.

In fact, when we dissected her tax plans, the only reference to city debt that we were able to find was how Winnipeg was finally on the brink of getting out of it.
"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."

You might think that a mayoral candidate offering a blank cheque to a millionaire developer while pledging to drown the city in a $200 million sea of red ink would be front page news.

You're such a silly.

You're obviously not a member of the MSM's crack team of election reporters, at least one of whom was also a member all through the election campaign of a group dedicated to defeating incumbent mayor Sam Katz.

They don't even try to hide it anymore.

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