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:

Friday, April 01, 2011

How Manitoba dodged a bullet from last year's flood situation. Plus, a Rod explosion.

Only by fluke was Manitoba spared a massive power failure and rolling blackouts last year.
Details are sparse but that bombshell was revealed earlier this month before the Public Utilities Board which is looking at a rate increase for Hydro.
Transmission towers in northern Manitoba were being separated from their supports by (it appears) flooding on the Nelson River.
If a critical tower had fallen, it would have taken out a second line and "we would have lost 3600 megawatts of supply. And we can only import a thousand," testified David Cormie, a Manitoba Hydro exec.
"The loads at the time were probably in the order of 4,000 megawatts, so we would have had to have gone into rotating load shed," he said in Hydrospeak.
Hydro cranked up the gas turbines at Brandon and Selkirk and stopped all exports "in order to ensure that we wouldn't have a blackout. We were in -- in a situation where we were in a rotating blackout mode but not a -- not a provincial blackout had it occurred.
"... had those towers gone down the consequences would have been -- would have been disastrous for southern Manitoba," said Vince Warden, Hydro's chief financial officer.
THE CHAIRPERSON: How did you discover that situation?

It was purely by accident. We -- it was a -- a remote tower that was randomly observed by -- by an employee that was in the area by chance. And you know we don't always look at those towers. Now we -- we -- certainly -- now that it has come to our attention, every tower is being inspect -- inspected for that -- for that possible occurrence.

(Transcript from the PUB hearing March 9)
The PUB was told the dangerous situation developed near Prud'homme Lake, a bay off the Nelson River upstream of Kelsey.
"Water levels were about 10 feet higher than they were normally because of the severe ice conditions on the Nelson River causing a backup into that lake," said David Cormie.
How Manitoba narrowly dodged an energy bullet was revealed as Warden was explaining why operations costs were significantly higher than inflation. Hydro is trying to keep a handle on costs, he said, but the unexpected, like the Prud'homme tower incident, cannot be controlled.
"... we don't have a handle on the costs that were incurred to restore those towers. Tho -- that -- those costs are still being tabulated," he said.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So imagine our surprise when belatedly we came across this post:
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Welcome to the Purple Rod!

I think it is about time that I created a blog. Considering naming a blog after a colour of a rod is the latest "craze" in Winnipeg, I am going to call my blog the Purple Rod! Special thanks to the Black, Orange, Blue, White, and Stiff Rods for inspiration!
Posted by Purple Rod at 7:14 PM
cherenkov said...
You forgot the Red Rod. Yes, there is one of those too.
Holy Moley. Like lilies in the spring, a bloom of Rods.
Remember boys and girls, with great power comes great responsibility. Don't do anything to harm the "brand."
We encourage the other Rods to familiarize themselves with the tradition of the Rod through this article:

Indeed, if you pick a fight with this Serjeant at Arms - whether you're a copper, the Prime Minister or a drunken peer - you tend to come off worse.

Better known as Black Rod, (Sir Michael Willcocks) was in action three days ago performing the annual Westminster door-knocking ritual which is designed to illustrate the strength of our parliamentary democracy.


He has the power of arrest himself, simply using the authority of his rod. His far-reaching powers date back to Black Rod's origins as the man responsible for keeping order among the Knights of the Garter.

He could expel - or 'degrade' - a knight with a touch of his rod and claim 5£ in return.

Black Rod became a permanent Westminster fixture in 1522, when Henry VIII ordered him to manage security in 'the High Court called the Parliament'.


The Garter connection still survives and Black Rod appears with the Queen every year at Windsor Castle for the annual gathering of the Order of the Garter. And he is not the only rod in the business. All orders of chivalry have an honorary usher with a rod to match their regalia.

The Order of the Thistle (for eminent Scots) has a chap called the Gentleman Usher of the Green Rod; the Order of the Bath (for the Forces) has Scarlet Rod; the Order of St Michael and St George (diplomats has Blue Rod; and the Order of the British Empire (the rest of us) has Purple Rod.

'I am, officially, Chief of all the Ushers of this Kingdom, which makes me top rod,' says Sir Michael.

And we all know who the top rod in Manitoba is, don't we.

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