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, October 28, 2010

Election post-mortem: Did Katz the Fixer get the right message from his win?

Sam Katz shrugged off everything the NDP and their press allies could toss at him and still trounced their annointed candidate for mayor, Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

The NDP machine pulled out all the stops. They managed to boost the anti-Katz vote by almost 50 percent from the 2006 election---only to see Katz re-elected by a double-digit margin (55 percent of the vote compared to 43 percent for his challenger).

In fact, JustJudy's 90,000 vote total was less than Katz garnered in the last election (104,000) and less even than he received when he was first elected mayor in 2004 (99,000).

The Winnipeg Free Press, the biggest cheerleader for Judy W-L, was forced to concede "It might even be his strongest mandate ever."

And that was despite running the worst campaign imaginable.

Katz bolted out of the starting block with a bold declaration that crime and public safety were going to be the cornerstones of his run for reelection.

“This election needs to be about reducing crime, offering young people alternatives and taking back our communities through all means at our disposal." Katz said the day after Labour Day.

It seemed a smart thing to do, to seize crime as his issue, given that crime was at the top of every poll of voters' concerns.

But Katz then spent the remaining 7 weeks of the campaign speaking about everything except how his new proposals to attack the crime problem would be successful when the level of violence and gang activity in Winnipeg has increased in the six years since he was first elected Mayor.

He delivered his opponent a perfect issue to use against him---his plan to build a half-billion dollar electric train transit route to the University of Manitoba. It would be his legacy, he said, even though there had been no consultation with the public over the immense cost or any discussion how, exactly, Katz intends to pay for his "vision".

This seemed exceptionally dumb, especially since an angry electorate was skewering incumbents in several ridings because of their cavalier attitude to public consultation in the previous council.

Luckily for Katz, Judy Alphabet ignored the light rail transit pledge and spent the election blabbering about Veolia, some long forgotten project approved by city council, that was only understood by one voter in 100, if that.
In turn, Wasylycia-Leis gave Katz a sure-fire election boost when she pledged to raise property taxes two percent a year for four years.

But when the news media asked Katz the obvious question, what's your position on taxes, he bumbled the issue by weaseling out and saying he would answer after he saw some study that wouldn't be completed until after the election.

The backlash to his unacceptable reply forced him to hurriedly invent a new answer---property taxes are bad and he would rather negotiate with the province for 1 percent of the provincial sales tax to be handed over to Winnipeg.

Throughout the campaign, Katz practiced a form of reverse discrimination to avoid any suggestion he was picking on a woman. He failed to point out JustJudy's obvious shortcomings to be mayor, namely the fact that she had never in her adult life had a real job outside of politics, and that as a member of Parliament she worked against the interests of Winnipeg by supporting laws that put criminals on the street instead of behind bars.

Nor did he mention that her only brush with governing was two years as a minor cabinet minister in the administration of Howard Pawley way, way back in the Eighties, before she needed a dye job to cover the grey in her hair.

When, during one of the innumerable mayoral candidates forums, he was given the opportunity to ask Judy Wasylycia-Leis a direct question, he asked her about FIPPA. Or LIPPA. Or DIPPA. Or SIPPA. Whatever it was....NOBODY CARED, it was that irrelevant.

Yet, despite all these bumbles and missteps, Katz walked away with victory. When all was said and done, Katz had a comfortable double digit lead -- to the consternation of the Winnipeg Free Press which, as late as Saturday, was calling it a neck-and-neck race.

Forgotten in the MSM post-mortems was the FP/CBC Ekos poll that allegedly said experience was the least important quality a mayoral candidate needed to get elected (i.e. Vote Judy), and the electorate didn't care much about business acumen either (i.e. Vote Judy.) Or that honesty and integrity were the most important qualities Winnipeg voters were looking for (i.e. Vote Judy). Or that they had conceded that an increase in property taxes was overdue (i.e. Vote Judy.)

It seems that the voters thought that Sam Katz was more honest and had more integrity than Judy Wasylycia-Leis, doesn't it?

And they've sent the message loud and clear. 'No' to a tax increase.

But the MSM in the city refuses to acknowledge these results and continues to spin their stories to promote their personal biases.

The Left in Winnipeg took their best shot and failed to win, or even come close.

The public, however, did send Sam Katz a message he can't ignore. They gave him another term in office, but they gave several incumbent city councillors (Orlikow, Gerbasi, Swandel) a good spanking over the poor or non-existent public consultations prior to major city projects that riled up their ridings.

Katz is the master of the backroom deal followed by slipping a major civic issue on the agenda at city hall at the very last minute for a rushed vote.

That, declared the voters, has to end.

We'll soon see if Sam Katz understands the new mood of the public. His first test is just around the corner when David Asper comes slinking in any day now with a fat new budget for a proposed new stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Katz better keep two words front and centre when dealing with all city projects, mega and small: Rob Ford.

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