It was juicy and irresistable. How could Michael Ignatieff resist?

So he took the bait.

Only when the hook pierced his aristocratic lip did the leader of the Liberal Party realize his mistake and begin thrashing about in panic.

Winnipeg Free Press reporter Mary Agnes Welch, who had trolled the sweet treat in front of Iggy, tried to save him, but wound up being pulled into the swamp herself. And this just after she had crawled out and dried herself off after her shenanigans during the civic election.

Welch was only trying to use Iggy to smear the Conservatives in the byelection in Winnipeg North. Who knew it would backfire so badly?

The reporter, whose controversial record of slanted and inaccurate reporting precedes her, asked Ignatieff a leading question, how pundits were saying the wily Conservatives were running a Filipino woman to siphon off Filipino votes from the Liberals to throw the election to the NDP.

Iggy bit.

"Let's have a straight-up fight," he said. "Everything else is a bunch of games."

The Free Press emphasized the alleged duplicity of the sneaky Conservatives in their headline, then again in the lead.

"Ignatieff warns against splitting Filipino vote
Wants 'fair' fight in city byelection
By: Mary Agnes Welch 15/11/2010
VOTERS in Winnipeg North deserve a "straight-up" campaign free from attempts to split the Filipino vote, said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff Sunday."

At first the Liberals were happy with the story. But after the Filipino press condemned his statement, and the FP wrote an editorial critical of his using identity politics, the Liberals went into full damage control mode. Once again Michael Ignatieff had used his anti-Midas secret power to turn gold into lead.

Mary Agnes Welch tried to help. On her newspaper-sponsored "blog" she printed a portion of a transcript of her interview with Ignatieff to show that she, not he, raised he issue of vote-splitting. And that he never "warned" anyone. And that he, in fact, never even used the term "split" or "splitting". Except, maybe, as regards to splitting hairs.

Another attempt to damage the Conservatives had gone horribly awry. And Mary Agnes Welch was in the thick of it again.

We remember how her pro-NDP, pro-Judy Wasylycia-Leis, anti-Sam Katz cover got blown during the mayoral election. In fact, here's the on-line exchange that outed her:

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
recollection.
If you disagree with my interpretation of the poll, I would be happy
to hear your views.
MA
****
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.
MA
Facebook? What Facebook? Oh, THA-A-A-T Facebook. Thanks for the heads up.

Mary Agnes Welch seems to have a problem getting her facts straight. There's nothing like truth to ruin a good story.

Take this recent story by Welch:

City lists properties subject to tax sale
Restaurant, mansion among 480 in arrears
By: Mary Agnes Welch
Posted: 5/11/2010 1:00 AM |
snip
The biggest outstanding tax bill belongs to 881 Main Street, a one-story storefront that's the former home of one of the giants of the waning Internet pharmacy boom, CanadaMeds.com.
Building owner Daren Jorgenson, who also owns the Four Rivers Medical clinics, was baffled by the news his property was in arrears, saying his company refinanced the property last year and thought the tax bill was paid in full.

For a close look at how Mary Agnes Welch researches her stories, examine this email exchange with Jorgenson which The Black Rod was allowed to read (we've made minor edits for privacy and relevance and all highlights are ours):

From: Welch, Mary Agnes
To: Daren Jorgenson
Sent: Wed Nov 03 14:09:56 2010
Subject: 881 Main
Hi Daren,
Do you own 881 Main Street, where your old Internet pharmacy used to have its operation? Not sure if you ever did, but it's one of hundreds of properties the city is about to seize for unpaid property taxes. The owner is a numbered company. What's up?
MA
*************
Sent: November-03-10 2:59 PM
To: Welch, Mary Agnes
Subject: Re: 881 Main
We own these buildings through a numbered corporation but I am sure the taxes are paid up. Where do I get a copy of that list ?
I know before we have got behind on property taxes but that property cannot have much taxes on it so if we are really behind I would just pay it up.
The City cannot seize your property unless you have 3 years of property taxes owing.
Take Care,
Daren Jorgenson
****************
From: Welch, Mary Agnes
To: Daren Jorgenson
Sent: Wed Nov 03 16:13:28 2010
Subject: RE: 881 Main
Hey Daren,
The list is enclosed - it ran in the Manitoba Gazette over the weekend. It's the list of properties that are three years behind and thus eligible for tax sale.
I went to city hall and checked on the big dollar figure properties. 881 Main is line item 349 on the list and $109,000 is owing. The owner listed is Manitoba 4698887.
MA
*****************
Sent: November-03-10 3:38 PM
To: Welch, Mary Agnes
Subject: Re: 881 Main
It must be a mistake because refinanced all our properties less than a year ago and the taxes were paid in full then.
I will look into it tomorrow and email you what I find out.
Take Care,
Daren Jorgenson
**********
From: Welch, Mary Agnes
To: Daren Jorgenson
Sent: Wed Nov 03 16:41:04 2010
Subject: RE: 881 Main
I think the story is running tomorrow....
************
Sent: November 3, 2010 3:46 PM
To: maryagnes.welch
Subject: Re: 881 Main
Really ? What's the story on that when you don't give me a chance to check into it. I am very open to being challenged on anything I do but running a story that is not time sensitive without letting me have one day to look into it does not really fit the bill for fair and transparent reporting. For sure the property taxes would have been paid in full in January 2010 when we arranged a blanket mortgage on all our properties with a new lender.
Anyways I will let you know tomorrow what I find out.
Take Care,
Daren Jorgenson
Story ran Friday, Nov. 5, 2010.

From: (law firm)
To: Daren Jorgenson
Sent: Mon Nov 08 13:48:05 2010
Subject: RE: 881 Main
FYI, Mary Walsh got it wrong - we have searched the titles that are in arrears and the $109,000 is another company entirely. You owe $36000 and that's it.
*************
Sent: November-08-10 12:55 PM
To: Welch, Mary Agnes
Subject: Fw: 881 Main
Please see below. I am not sure why it was so important to have my name in that article but I thought I would let you know that you were wrong on your dollar amounts. The statement in the article that Daren Jorgenson was the owner of the building with the highest arrears owing is completely false but I have bigger fish to fry - no worries and no hard feelings.
In fact we only owed a total of $36,000 because just one of the rolls had been over looked. $12,000 per year x 3 = $36,000
Take Care,
Daren Jorgenson
*********
From: Welch, Mary Agnes
To: Daren Jorgenson
Sent: Mon Nov 08 14:15:59 2010
Subject: RE: 881 Main
I sent you the numbered company to confirm it was yours!
I also note the comment in the email string below that I "backed all down" now because you copied Richard Cloutier from CJOB to keep me honest.
Just for the record, I didn't even notice you'd copied Richard. If I had, the story would certainly have run the next day because you blew my exclusive.
I asked the desk for an extra day as a professional courtesy and because I wanted to get the facts right. I also asked my editors not to run a picture of the building because your tax arrears sounded like a honest mistake.
edit
MA
*************
Sent: November-08-10 1:48 PM
To: Welch, Mary Agnes
Subject: Re: 881 Main
I stand by my belief that you were trying every possible angle to put my name in a story with sensational journalism. I know there are folks that are putting pressure on media to discredit me because we are pushing the envelope in terms of Healthcare
Reform in Manitoba. There is a lot of Politicians, Union leaders, WRHA, Health Industry, etc that are threatened by our honesty to the public about our healthcare system.
edit
No worries and no hard feelings on my side but I do get the impression that you take it personally/emotionally with me challenging you on your article, it's facts, and the motives behind it.
Take Care,
Daren Jorgenson
*****************
Sent: November-08-10 2:16 PM
To: Welch, Mary Agnes
Subject: Re: 881 Main
You need to take a RULER and make sure that the $ amount you are saying is attached to that building really is for that building.
When you use a RULER you will see that the $109,000 is NOT for 881 Main St but the property listed above it.
I had a $36,000 total due which certainly could not have been the highest amount because even in your article Alycia's is higher.
Poor reporting and honestly you need to go back to the drawing board if you think that publishing an article on back taxes owing on buildings in Winnipeg is some how an exclusive story. The City publishes that list EVERY year so it does not require some hot shot reporting to run a story on the list.
Actually, all those property owners have until November 30th to pay up so being in a rush to run a story the first week in November before you get the full facts is very sloppy reporting. You need to invest in a ruler.
I fully expect to see more attacks by the Free Press to discredit me as I know MANY people of power and influence in Winnipeg and Manitoba are threatened by our healthcare companies and how we are pushing forward reform to the healthcare system. I am not worried at all about these attacks as I know the public is much too smart to be sucked in by it and the message we have on healthcare reform is one that the people understand and want.
Again, no worries and no hard feelings from my side.
Take Care,
Daren Jorgenson
******************
From: Welch, Mary Agnes
To: Daren Jorgenson
Sent: Mon Nov 08 15:04:08 2010
Subject: RE: 881 Main
For the record, below is the email I sent on Wednesday to confirm you owned the numbered company. I also enclosed the entire list of properties in tax sale so you and your lawyers could see where I was getting my information. You'll see that 881 Main has, by far, the biggest tax debt. As a reporter, I couldn't ignore that, so to imply that I singled you out because of pressure from the WRHA or the health care industry is just patently silly.
MA
***************
From: Welch, Mary Agnes
To: Daren Jorgenson
Sent: Mon Nov 08 16:40:58 2010
Subject: RE: 881 Main
I just called Mel Chambers at the city to have him confirm the lot and plan numbers. You are correct - the $109,000 belongs to 794 Main Street, not 881 Main Street.
We'll run a correction.
MA
********

Wow. A correction.
Mary Agnes Welch is a professional journalist.
She has editors.
They have standards and ethics.

Accuracy is something else altogether.