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, June 30, 2011

Manitoba Hydro For Sale. Apply to Greg Selinger, NDP sales rep

Wanna buy a dam?
How about a power line?
Maybe a transmission tower? For the kids.
The little wife might appreciate a shiny new converter station.
C'mon. The sale won't last forever.

You won't get a deal like this anywhere. No money down and forever to pay. Hell, we'll give you the money to repay the purchase price--- and more to cover your profit, no questions asked.

Manitoba Hydro for Sale. Call now. Ask for unelected Premier Greg Selinger. Tell him we sent you.

The NDP has begun privatizing Manitoba Hydro and the usual watchdogs of the press are asleep again.

What, you say? The NDP? But, but, but....isn't it the other guys we should be afraid of?

The facts tell the story. The NDP has been selling off pieces of Hydro for years and nobody has uttered a peep.

They've sold off 33 percent of the Wuskwatim dam.
They've signed a deal to sell 25 percent of the Keeyask dam, which will be almost five times as large as Wuskwatim.
And they're planning to sell of pieces of the still-larger Conawapa dam when its time to build it.

At that point they will run out of new dams to sell. So they will turn to selling off pieces of the old dams. Then the power lines and transmission towers. Eventually they'll be left with only the rivers and streams, and they'll start selling them.

What? You haven't heard?

Oh, you've heard all right. It's just that the facts have never been presented in the proper context.

The NDP says they're just working with "partners" on the development of the dams. These "partners" are Indian reserves. And they don't have a pot to piss in, never mind investing tens of millions of dollars to build a hydro dam and get the power to market.

What's clear is that Manitoba Hydro, under orders from the NDP, is selling off dams they will build at public expense to private "partners". Here's how NDP privitization works:

* Hydro will borrow tens of millions of dollars, then "lend" the money to the Indian reserves. * The reserves will give the money back to Hydro as their buy-in of the dams for sale.

*Hydro won't make any money on power it sells to the U.S. from Wuskwatim for the first six years at least because it's going to cost more to produce the power than they'll sell it for. But they're obligated to pay the reserves "profits" (which don't exist) all that time.

* The reserves will use the profits (that don't exist) to pay Hydro back the money that was lent to them. In other words, Hydro is selling them a piece of the dam and subsidizing the sale.

The Wuskwatim privitization will cost Manitobans up to $40 million a year, according to a story by Bruce Owen,the Winnipeg Free Press Legislature reporter. (A Dam-Fine Future, Winnipeg Free Press, June 25, 2011).

"The goal is for NCN (the Nelson House Indian reserve) to own 33 percent of the dam," wrote Owen.

Own. They will own a third of the dam that Manitoba Hydro is building at public expense and then selling to their aboriginal "partners."

That's FORTY MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR that's being diverted from the public coffer to private owners courtesy of the NDP. And that's just the beginning.

The Keeyask project is five times larger. And Conawapa larger than that. By the time the NDP is through privatizing just the new dams, Manitoba will be hundreds of millions of dollars poorer each and every year.

The Winnipeg Free Press, which all week has regurgitated the NDP's scare stories about Hugh McFadyen and the Conservative party's non-existent plans for Hydro, refuses to admit that the NDP is already privatizing Hydro assets.

In the latest scare story, Tory Bipole-swap vow threat to Keeyask: Hydro Boss (June 29, 2011), Mary Agnes Welch wrote:

"A joint ownership and compensation deal with the four First Nations -- Tataskweyak, War Lake, Fox Lake and York Factory -- was signed two years ago."

There's that word again. Ownership. They will own a piece of the dam. The NDP is selling them a portion of the dam. Manitoba Hydro is building the dam, but a slice of the profits of the power will go to private owners instead of the people of Manitoba.

Who has the secret agenda? Ask for unelected Premier Greg Selinger. Tell him we sent you.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

The horror story behind the death of Andrew Szabo

The inquest report into the 2006 death of Blue Bombers fan Andrew Szabo was released on Tuesday -- but news reports only hint at the actual horror story behind the tragedy.

Szabo slowly bled to death in Grace Hospital after falling off a landing onto the concrete below and suffering a broken pelvis that went undiagnosed.

Inquest Judge Mary Kate Harvie tries to make ER doctor Terrance Bergmann the scapegoat but news reports failed to point out that she cited Winnipeg paramedics as sharing the blame.

Here's the full story...

Imagine this scenario: a man trips and free-falls, say, 15 feet before crashing into the cement. He' s unconscious and bleeding from the back of his head.

What do you think happens next?

Most people would say somebody calls 911, an ambulance shows up, and the unfortunate man is taken to a hospital as quickly as possible for x-rays to his skull.

You dreamer.

Here's how it worked in real life in Winnipeg.

* Szabo stumbled on the stairs and tumbled off a landing at the stadium about 7:25 p.m. He was immediately attended to by paramedics working for Criti Care, a private paramedic company hired to work the Bombers game.

They found he was semi-conscious and had obviously broken his collar bone. And he was drunk. The inquest was told Szabo's blood-alcohol reading at the time he fell would have been in the range of .221 to .276. But Szabo was a hardcore drinker who might have masked his impairment well.

* Szabo slowly regained his senses, but the paramedics still called 911. At 7:37, 12 minutes after the fall, a Winnipeg city ambulance arrived. The city paramedics didn't trust the private paramedics, even though one of them was one of their own who was a moonlighting, so they repeated the examination of the injured man, then called in a supervisor, then decided to take Szabo to Grace Hospital rather than the city's only trauma hospital, Health Sciences Centre.

* All in all, the city paramedics spent 21 minutes at the scene, and another 14 minutes getting Szabo to the hospital and admitted. In other words, Andrew Szabo didn't get to a hospital until 47 minutes after he fell.

And Judge Harvie declared they took Szabo to the wrong hospital
--- which wouldn't have happened if they used their judgement instead of following the rules to the letter.

[170] The addition of either the “EMS Provider Judgement” or the “When in Doubt” criteria would have given the WFPS paramedics the flexibility to consider transport to the HSC as opposed to the Grace General Hospital. For example, such flexibility may have allowed Medical Supervisor Charles Thomas to consider the GCS scores obtained from Mr. Nienhuis, who happened to be working in the capacity of a Criti Care employee as opposed to a WFPS employee. It is clear that Mr. Thomas was working under the understanding that he had “zero” discretion to do anything but apply the triage protocols. This strict approach needs to change.

And that was just the beginning of the disaster.

* When paramedics briefed the triage nurse at Grace Hospital on Szabo's accident and his responses to their on-the-scene examination, she immediately felt he should have been taken to HSC. But without the authority to order the ambulance to take him there, she admitted him but red-flagged him for the doctor's attention within 15 minutes. (This is Winnipeg. There is only one ER doctor on shift.)

Not long afterward, Dr. Bergmann checked on Szabo. His understanding after talking with a nurse was that Szabo had fallen down 20 stairs and banged his head. There was no chart for him to read, he said. The patient was conscious, and not complaining of any pain. The doctor ordered urinalysis, a CT scan, and X-rays of his spine. Later in the evening he returned and stitched up the cut on Szabo's head.

* That night the nurses (and doctor, we imagine) were run off their feet.

Some staff described the evening as “the worst night in five years.” wrote Judge Harvie.

Szabo's bedside nurse Holly Johnson described the hour after leaving him to the care of nurse Lora di Bernardo as “a blur.”

"Subsequent to the evening of August 4, nursing staff filled out an “Unsafe Work” form documenting their concerns about the patient to staff ratio. Lora di Bernardo described that for a period of time she was responsible for seven acute patients."
* The doctor still thought he was dealing with a drunk who had fallen down some stairs. The X-rays showed nothing and the urinalysis results hadn't turned up by the time his shift ended at midnight.
Neither he nor the nurses realized that Szabo was broken to pieces inside ---fractured rib, a collapsed lung, a fractured pelvis---because there was no whole-body CT scan available at the Grace.
From the inquest report:
258] Sometime around 00:30 hrs on August 5, 2006 Mr. Szabo’s condition was found to have deteriorated. He had earlier been moved by staff from the hallway in preparation for possible discharge. After concerns were raised by Mrs. Szabo and by nursing staff, he was moved again to the Resuscitation bay.

Yes, you read that right. FROM THE HALLWAY.

It was too late. Szabo was transferred to Health Sciences Cente but died there.


* It took 47 minutes to get Andrew Szabo to a hospital by ambulance.

He could have gotten there faster taking a bus.

Even though the paramedics thought he should go to Winnipeg's only trauma hospital and the triage nurse thought he should go to Winnipeg's only trauma hospital, the rules said he had to go to a community hospital because he fell less than 20 feet.

* The judge hints that one reason the rules require ambulances to take patients everywhere except Health Science Centre, is because HSC is already overwhelmed with the dregs of Winnipeg. As she put it so circumspectly:

131] The HSC, Manitoba’s only trauma center, faces its own specific challenges in respect of over-triaging. While it has an exceptionally small catchment area of approximately one square mile, there is the significant call volume of patients that attend to the HSC from that catchment area, regardless of the nature of their injuries. At the risk of over-simplifying the matter the Court heard that the issues affecting the call volume at HSC, given the population in its catchment area, include issues related to poverty, homelessness, the easy physical access to the HSC, as well as specific challenges related to public education.
* Miscommunication between doctor and nurses at Grace Hospital meant the doctor thought he had taken a less serious fall than was true, so he wasn't looking for serious injuries.

Neither the doctor nor nurses realized Szabo had a broken collar bone, or that he had shit himself when he fell. That's just odd.

* The chronic nursing shortage contributed to the overall dysfunction of the Grace ER.

A severely injured man gets to a hospital only to spend hours dying of undiagnosed injuries. This would be shocking if it was the only time this happened. But it's not the only time.

The Szabo case is a foreshadowing of what we will see when the Brian Sinclair inquest finally gets underway. Sinclair, you remember, died in the HSC emergency room in 2008 under the eyes of medical staff while waiting to see a doctor to change a blocked catheter, a simple procedure. He was there for 30 hours before anyone noticed he was dead.

The NDP has managed to stall that inquest until after the coming provincial election because they know how explosive it will be.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vancouver rioters lassoed by the Internet posse, judged by the Web

Viva la revolution.

CBC is reporting that Vancouver police have more than 1 million photos and 1000 hours of video to review while building criminal cases against rioters who rampaged through the city's downtown Wednesday evening following the last game of the Stanley Cup.

The Globe and Mail says the public has sent police 3500 emails of which 53 have videos of rioters attached, 676 link to videos on YouTube, 798 include still photos, and another 1000 have links to Facebook and other social media sites where rioters are being outed.

Whichever is closer to the truth, the fact is it's proof of a public uprising on behalf of law and order like we've never seen before.

The Silent Majority has used the new tools of communication to send criminals a message---we're not going to take it anymore.

They've formed an Internet posse to identify the rioters, to track them down, and to make sure they are punished. And by doing so, they're sending the politicians in Ottawa a message---you've failed to protect us so we're doing it for ourselves.

The revolution caught two groups flatfooted, starting with the news media.

Remember the Old Days when the mainstream media would report on a riot, then refuse to cooperate with police in identifying the people involved. "You want our outtakes? We'll fight you in court," they would say. "We can't be seen helping police; it would impede our ability to report the news," they snorted. "We're not an arm of the authorities; we're independent," they pontificated.

Now, you're irrelevant.

Who needs professional reporters when everybody with a cell phone camera is a reporter? Who needs a television newscast or the next day's front page when you have the immediacy of the Internet? Who would waste his time waiting for the "professionals" to cobble together a story when you can go online and read a hundred first-hand accounts for yourself without the need of a gatekeeper to tell you what's "important" and what's not.

The second group of stunned onlookers was the rioters themselves. Talk about an "entitlement generation."

Nathan Kotylak had everything going for him. He was 17, handsome, the son of a rich doctor, and about to graduate from a prestigious private high school with a partial scholarship to the University of Calgary. As a member of Canada's junior water polo team he was on track to compete in the Olympics.

Then, following the Stanley Cup game, he decided it would be fun to turn a police car into a giant molotov cocktail. He was videoed stuffing a sweater into the car's gas tank and trying to set it on fire as a wick to ignite the car.

He spent the next day preparing for his high school graduation.

That's when reality hit him in the face. He discovered he had been busted on the 'Net. Everybody knew who he was.

He described the moment at a news conference on Saturday.
"The day after, with my mother, I ended up googling my name, and at that point in time, the top five things were about awards and accomplishments that I've been able to achieve. And then, yesterday (Friday) just searching up my name everything I could find was some sort of link to what had happened on Wednesday night. So I saw my name had been tarnished and been thrown around in such a manner that this (his public apology) was in essence to try and rebuild my name and my reputation."

Get it? His name was tarnished by those meanies on the Internet, so he had to go public to get his rep back. And that wasn't all.

"I'm just ashamed, uh, the disgrace I brought to a lot of the great things that I'm a part of, that I had been a part of, and that I hope that I may still be a part of, would that be Water Polo Canada, the reputation of my school and lots of things like that."

He thinks he still deserves to be a member of Canada's junior water polo team and have a shot at the Olympics.

Yeah, that's right. Canada represented by an arsonist. That's the entitlement generation.

Then there's Camille Cacnio. She, too, issued a public apology for her behavior. It seems the video of her grinning ear to ear as she stepped through a smashed store window with two pairs of looted pants in her hands did not show the real her.

"I have been painted out as a criminal, and not the person that I really am." she wrote.

You mean that cheap thief?

Oh, she was sorry, she said, but it wasn't her fault; she had been swept up in the mob mentality. And speaking of mob mentality, what about all those people who attacked her on the Web? She had a stern lecture for them.

"The laws were made for everybody to follow: criminals and spectators alike. So for you to disregard the laws makes it seem like you are an anarchist…starting a mob…based on social media…starting to get the picture yet?"

She ended her long diatribe/apology with these words for her detractors.

"To those who know me and have turned their backs on me, please delete me from Facebook and disassociate yourself from me as much as possible because I don’t want to have anything to do with you."

So there. The cheap thief doesn't want anything to do with people who judge her.

She's a victim in her own right, the highest social standing you can have in her world.

The biggest shock to this generation has been that there were real consequences to their actions.

* Nathan Kotylak could (and should) be kicked off the junior Olympic water polo team.

* Camille Cacnio got fired from her part-time job at Burrard Acura.

* Alex Prochazka, a professional mountain biker from Whistler, B.C., was wearing one of his sponsors' (Oakley) t-shirts when he helped tip over a police car onto its roof. Dumb. He's on the verge of losing his sponsorships. He had been the only biker outside the U.S. to be sponsored by Target.

And it's dawned on these geniuses that that's the least of their problems.

The Internet is forever. Their crimes, their names and their shame will be there for all to read in the future---potential employers, potential spouses, U.S. border crossing guards, you name it.
And that's the message the public is giving Ottawa.

The justice system is a joke. Punishment is non-existent. Juvenile offenders laugh at the law. If Ottawa won't restore the balance, the public will using the resources of social media to apply shame to the system.

Shame. The gift that keeps on giving.

The rioters who have come forward so far have all said how deeply ashamed they are personally and how ashamed they are that their family and their associates in schools and athletic teams have been tarnished by their behaviour.

That's the way it should be.

The current justice system has removed shame from the equation. The Vancouver public has put it back

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The University of Manitoba's library boondoggle


This just in from the Department of Your Tax Dollars At Work...

Hot on the heels of the head chopping at Red River College over the turmoil caused by delays in the Union Bank renos (* see link below), comes this tidbit about another institute of higher l'arning.

It seems the University of Manitoba is doing some deep thinking about a little reno of their own. Or is that a re-reno?

The University had been routinely filling up a newly-built storage annex behind the Dafoe Library when they noticed a little problem---they had so much stuff the floor was at risk of collapsing from the weight.

The annex, built at a cost of $3.3 million, is a warehouse-like building that stores journals and books that aren't used much during the year. But obviously it isn't light reading.

A little birdie tells us somebody goofed on the metric/imperial and weight calculations. So guess what? They're moving everything out so a new bunch of workmen can come in and reinforce the building to keep it from coming down on the heads of the hardworking librarians.

The estimated cost: $300,000.

Here's the description of the work involved:

Storage Annex Renovations. Work under this contract covers: 1- Dismantling of mobile shelving system and storage. 2- Removal of existing lighting, ductwork, piping and associated services 3- Removal of existing Storage Room 019. 4- Installation of new steel beams and fireproofing of new steel structure. 5- Re-installation of lighting, ductwork, piping and all associated removed services and mobile shelving system. 6- Re-construction of Storage Room 019.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Heads roll at Red River College. Shhh. It's a secret.

Ding dong.

For whom, you ask, does the bell toll?

For the dearly departed whose heads rolled at Red River College at the beginning of the month.

With no fanfare at all, two names were added to the college dishonour roll:

* Catherine Rushton, former Vice President in charge of finance and administration, and

* Robert Olson, former associate vice president for facilities and campus services.

The college put on a happy face until the spring convocation June 2 and 3, then silently dropped the axe. The 3rd was a Friday, and as everyone was focused on the joyous ceremonies, Rushton took the walk of shame in the empty main campus, picking up her "stuff", and heading for the exit with the standard security guard escort.

Rushton and her associate Olson paid the price for what's shaping up to be the disaster du jour, the highly touted renovation of the Union Tower building.

Was it only two years ago that city, province and college officials were backslapping and grinning themselves silly at a photo op to announce a $27 million top-to-bottom reno of the 104-year-old building?

The ancient highrise on the corner of Main Street and William Avenue, immediately south of City Hall, had been an eyesore for decades, abandoned and rotting. But, muttering the magic incantation of "infrastructure", the politicians and college bigwigs promised a rebirth.

The Union Tower was to come alive again, stuffed with shiny new classrooms, offices, labs, and six floors of student residences. But the piece de resistance (yeah, more French) would be the partnership with Paterson GlobalFoods which would commit $2 million to turn the bottom floors into the home of Red River's culinary arts program.

Well, the doors were supposed to open in the spring of 2011. Then September, 2011.

And, now, sometime in 2012.

But don't hold them to it.

Nobody's talking about the dismissals or the problems with the reno. There's some background chatter about structural misalignment in the building, which would only be a concern to someone with a residence there. Oh...wait.

For those keeping tabs ... yes, this is the same Cathy Rushton who was behind the cancellation of the The Great Canadian Talk Show (on Red River College-based Kick-FM) at the behest of the Winnipeg Free Press.

And, yes, the same Winnipeg Free Press that hasn't breathed a word about their darling Cathy's abrupt departure.

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