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:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The police department's Halloween reassurance newser flops.

The Winnipeg police tried communicating with the public Friday and, as usual, failed miserably.

They called a news conference to reassure the citizens of the city that the October Spree Killer who shot three people this time last year, was not shooting people at random. The shootings, said the police, might be (hint, hint, are extremely likely to be) connected to drug dealing in the North End.

So take it easy, folks, went the official message. You don't need to worry that you or your kids (one of the shooter's victims was only 13) are going to be shot down in cold blood without warning.

That might sound comforting to Winnipeg city detectives who don't actually live in Winnipeg, or to mainstream media reporters from the suburbs.

But people who actually walk the streets where the shootings took place can see right through the police bafflegab.

First, a brief recap of the shootings:

* Thomas Beardy was killed outside a home on Dufferin Avenue. In a charitable act, he was delivering hamburger to a friend with children to feed.

* Ian MacDonald was killed in his home on Boyd Avenue. He was shot down when he answered a knock at the door.

* A 13-year-old girl was nearly killed when shot in the stomach while walking with friends through the housing development on Stella Walk. CTV reporter Caroline Barghout revealed Friday that neighbours say the family living in the suite that the girl was passing had gang connections.

The houses on Dufferin and Boyd were tied "to the drug subculture in the North End" said a police spokesman. The homes were "specifically targeted", he said, adding that the people who were killed may not have been the intended targets.

How generous of him to make that distinction.

Except that, in other words, it means that the men were shot at random, just like the teenage girl. Well, so much, for reassurance.

But it gets worse. The shooter was a obviously a psychopath, without conscience or fear.

After pumping a few shots into a crowd of teenagers, he calmly hopped on his getaway vehicle, a bike, and rode away. Then, with the shriek of police and ambulance sirens still in the air and the streets crawling with police only a few blocks away, he ambushed Thomas Beardy on the steps of a house on Dufferin.

As frenzied police scoured the streets of the North End looking to stop any aboriginal youth of the suspect's age (late teen to mid-20's), the killer waited 35 minutes then walked up to a house in a nice neighbourhood on Boyd Avenue, knocked, and shot whoever answered.

He wasn't scared of being arrested or stopped. He was focused on killing.

And he's still out there.

Reassured, yet?

Now the police say the houses had drug connections of some sort. We have to guess that detectives didn't find any drugs in the homes where the men were killed or they would have told us. No crack in Thomas Beardy's pockets. No flourishing crop of pot plants in Ian MacDonald's basement. (Although we had heard rumours about MacDonald and referenced them five months ago---

So what are they saying, actually? That the killer had a list of drug houses to hit? That he was intending to shoot as many people as he could in one night in as many drug houses as he could reach before getting scooped? That he had been ripped off and was blowing off steam by blowing away people who crossed his path?

We note the police made no mention of surveillance video from a community centre across the street from 261 Stella Walk where the 13-year-old girl was shot. We guess that means there either was no video or it failed to catch the killer.

The police cleared up one point from the tangle of misinformation surrounding the case.

There had been a suggestion that the killer picked up a female accomplice prior to the shooting on Boyd. Police now say they are looking for an aboriginal man and woman who were in the vicinity of the shooting but as witnesses, not suspects.

They even gave a description of the clothes the pair wore. Wow. Maybe somebody will remember who wore what ONE YEAR AGO and call police with their names.

Why can't police figure out that if you want the public's help in finding someone you need to provide a description within hours or a day at most. You see that's when people are reading about the crime and following the news on TV and they might actually recognize who you're talking about. Asking for help ONE YEAR LATER is about as useful as calling police about a drug house on Dufferin Avenue.

Far from reassuring, the police news conference simply reminded people there is a mad dog killer on the loose in Winnipeg and the police are nowhere near making an arrest.

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Friday, October 07, 2011

Spilling the beans on Selinger. Where he comes from. Where he's going.

Nobody knows a man better than his best friend.

So, for an understanding of the character of the man elected to be the Premier of Manitoba, we turn to a most reliable source, a person who calls Greg Selinger his mentor and his close friend for over 35 years.

Tom Simms is executive director of the Community Education Development Association (CEDA), one of those made-up leftwing groups whose only purpose in the community is to promote the leftwing agenda of the regional leftwing political party. Oh, and it gets its funding from the government and any do-gooder organization, like the United Way, that it can tap into.

Shortly after the NDP took office and Selinger was installed as Manitoba's Finance Minister, Simms gave an extremely unguarded interview to an American fellow traveller. (That's not a euphemism; he says in his preamble he was literally travelling across Canada doing interviews with his fellow community organizers.)
The interview with Simms is online:

Talking with Troublemakers: Interviews with Canadian Community Organizers

Dave Beckwith
Center for Community Change

In Fall of 2000, Dave Beckwith and his family traveled nearly coast to coast in Canada, interviewing community organizers about their work.

Simms, speaking with one of his own, talked freely about his debt to Selinger for teaching him the tactics he's used throughout his career as a community organzier. In doing so, he spilled the beans on a variety of dirty tricks he and the NDP were involved with in Winnipeg.

* He told how the Left seized control of the Assiniboine Credit Union and uses it to fund their projects.

* He told how the Crocus Investment Fund used tax-deductible donations to fund the work of NDP community organizers.

* He told how he forced the Christmas Cheer Board to kowtow to him when they refused to join his anti-corporation agenda and tried, instead, to get the most value for their public donations

* He told how he threatened to smear the United Way with a false claim of racism unless they backed away from supporting the Christmas Cheer Board

* He told how instrumental Greg Selinger was in making the United Way a part of the leftwing backup plan to support social activists in case of a change of government

* He told how the NDP used a professional American radical to disrupt the Manitoba Legislature, and

* He told how the NDP collaborates with social activists in a public charade in which they both agree on a course of action, the activists pretend to pressure the government, and the government pretends to bow to the community's wishes.

Throughout the interview, Simms promoted Greg Selinger as the master and himself as the student. He even proposed arranging an interview with Selinger for the project. Dive straight into this rare and revealing interview with a true Selinger insider:

"When I graduated they hired me and so I’ve really kept in touch over the years with this individual. Actually that would be a great interview if you could ever get it. Greg Selinger, who is now the finance minister in the provincial government of Manitoba, he's the second most powerful person in the province of Manitoba right now. But he's an excellent organizer, and we could if you're interested, I could try and put a call through. He’s got a whole entourage now, but he just got elected like last year and he's really been my mentor over the years, I did my master's degree and there is no community development program at the school, so it took an organizer to really make it work. So I wrote up all these green courses and I basically focused everything on community development and he was my advisor here, too. "

"... So over the years we've kept a pretty close relationship and kind of feed off each other in terms of strategizing and knowledge around community development, community organizing, so that's how I kind of got into it...."

Q. Greg was at CEDA?

A. "Greg was at what ultimately was to become CEDA. We've known each other for 25 years out of that, and I was kind of following in his footsteps, he was the executive director. You see a lot of people come and go, kind of keep your spirit in this organizing. Like when 5 years ago we got half our funding cut, he was right there and we were strategizing together and there's just a life long bond around this thing. Now he's got this big job, but he'll come down here, he was here last month. What an interesting guy, it was this hot afternoon, he's got to wear suits now, but he comes over on his bike from the Leg sweating away on his bike!"

"One of the interesting things I think now, we see how we can try and shape this province...I've always believed and he knows it, too, in terms of trying to achieve change we need the organizers pressuring the politicians, so even though I think this guy is a great guy, I understand that he's got different kinds of strengths and roles now and he needs pressure from the streets in order for us to really achieve certain things. So we've seen with this new government a lot of our community organizers have been hired for government."


"We're actually the driving force in the community to shape government policy because there's a vacuum there, that leadership is missing."


"Do you know the story of, this may not be true but I've been telling it for so long that by now, Franklin D. Roosevelt was forming a new deal. The brain trust came in and they were all men, they came in and laid a big memo on his desk. He would only read the top page of any memo, everybody knew it, and he wanted a big fat case, but you better make a good case on the front page or he'd never read it. He looked at it and he says, well boys, you’ve convinced me. Now go out and put pressure on me. And it's true, the smart politicians understand that, that there's all these other pressures. And they need somebody to balance it. So that's where I have kind of positioned myself..."


"One of the things that I think we were able to do is say, hey, look, there's already resources at the table, right? CEDA with our staffing, and that’s dedicated, and we pay for the operation of the building and stuff. The north end community Development Corporation is housed in this building... and then MCC bought the building and has provided staff support. So there's dollars there. SEED Winnipeg kicks in staffing right now. We were able to get some funding from United Way for some staffing. There's a labour investment fund called the Crocus fund which has seconded a staff person."

Q. So how much hell gets raised? ... One of the things I'm interested in is the United Way, does that tend to damper down or do they have a hands off policy?

A. "Well for years we were the lunatic fringe of United Way. They didn't want to know what we were doing and I didn't want them to know, you know! You know, they kind of just left us alone and you know, they would call you in and--- not you, but the Board. I guess we’ve got so much credibility and we're rooted in the community like we just blow them off and say, this and this, oh, well, okay!"

Q. And that actually happened, you had a controversy and a campaign and they called you in and told you to...what was it?

A. "Well, we wanted to challenge this charity approach. And so, a big thing in this town around Christmas is the corporate community gets together, and the media, and they get Christmas hampers going, eh."

"And, you know, people need those immediate needs met, but it just kind of reinforces the residual welfare state. I mean, the corporate types don't look at the taxes they're avoiding or the programs that they oppose and all that. The United Way can be corporate proud."

" So we organized this counter campaign called the Christmas Local Investment Towards Employment campaign, so the acronym was LITE, Christmas LITE campaign... What we did, what we talked about is that a million dollars is raised in this town, but all the purchases are made at all these big corporate Wal-marts and all this kind of stuff but really there's a million dollars being raised in the name of poor people but it's all these corporate entities that are getting the perks, all the toys and all this kind of stuff. So in terms of bringing that into our local economic development strategy we started with one initiative that was to expand an aboriginal worker co-op, a grocery store. Of course it's all local people. It kind of started out when Neechi approached the Christmas Cheer board and said look, we'd like you to purchase your goods from our store. It's a two for one deal, you get the hampers out to the people and you're supporting local jobs."

"And the cheer board said, naw, we ain't going to do it, your prices are too high! Well I mean, these guys are dealing with big corporate wholesalers and all this kind of stuff to get the best deal. So they came back and we were pissed off, eh, so we said well screw it, we'll organize a counter campaign and we organized this Christmas LITE campaign."

" We said look, all the money you donate to the Christmas LITE campaign will be used to purchase food and goods at Neechi foods. The Christmas Cheer Board hated us. Actually it was a good war, and we, in turn, will go donate these goods to the Christmas cheer board, because we don't want to..."
Beckwith: Bring it all down!

"We don't want to distribute any hampers, eh?"

"You could just feel the tension; we had the media there and all that. There was actually an interesting story where a fairly progressive reporter from a religious paper here interviewed the head of the cheer board who just was saying that we were scam artists and, you know, how dare we, and we're not going to buy, you know, from this loser. Tough bananas was what the guy said!"

"And so this woman publicly said that, verbatim. You could see that they so betrayed themselves you know, Christian types, and this guy looks like the real asshole in this article, eh? She ended off the article saying thank goodness these people with Christmas Lite aren't going to back down and that they're going to move forward and tough bananas to the Cheer Board, eh?"

" So United Way sees all this get played out in the newspaper and so they haul me in. They say, they lay down the basics. What is this? What's going on here, and I just said, well you know, the co-chair… We knew this was going to happen so we got sort of high profile people to legitimize the thing along with community people. I says you know, the co-chair of the Christmas Lite campaign is with the United Church...So there's this aboriginal person who was the highest-ranking officer of the United Church; he had just sort of finished the gig, and he lived in Winnipeg so we got him to co-chair the thing and then we had another aboriginal woman co-chairing. So we said you know, laying out who's involved with it and then talking about this charity model you know, you were hitting them where they were not able to defend it."

"... I said, that's what's happening, if you don't like it, tough! You know, it seems like the community is responding to this thing and they backed off."


"One of the things that we're working with the government on, that Selinger understands quite well is, when the Tories were in power they were slashing programs and slashing advocacy groups like crazy, and the United Way was there. Really, there is more voice still around in United Way for funding this thing. So we're saying in terms of simple long term strategies, we think the Winnipeg United Way is one institution to look at for the longer term sustainability thing, so that when the government swings there is a resource base there."

"You know I remember we brought up Shel Trapp from Chicago, and he said how can you organize when you're getting funds from United Way, but here it works. I know some images of the United Way is that it's corporate you know, but I think Selinger played a good role of developing some really good credibility. And you know what, action speaks louder than words and when they see all this stuff happening, how can they turn their face."


"We organized this coalition called Choices; A Coalition for Social Justice. We organized the coalition in 1991. The right wing Tory government got elected in 1990 and basically we were organizing sort of a counter force to the government, it was very political..."


"I remember one of the times around the labor bill where we organized the community filibuster. This guy from the States, he was great, he was the lead organizer on it. They had a provision in the bill where that if people were lined up to present they had to keep the committee open and there was no provision for breaks so they literally had to run the thing round the clock. We would be lining up people like all night, people there in sleeping bags. The other thing that we found out was that they didn't have any provisions for time limits on the presentations so we would have guys go on for 4 hours and these guys would be just listening to this thing."

Beckwith: And that's how you survived the Tory government.

"Well we got some people who are now in government who are from our coalition."


" You want to talk about the personal... we took over the largest credit union in Winnipeg. We set up this group called the Draining of the Assiniboine. There's a nine-person board and they got elected every 2 years and over a two-year period we took over the entire board. I sit on the board right now still and that was very instrumental in getting loans out for SEED Winnipeg. We started about the same time we started Choices in 92 I think. I think there is an example of a social action strategy to help support the building of a community economic development program."

Q. I'm interested in what your experience has been with other kinds of organizing strategies, other kinds of organizing approaches or networks or training centers?

A. I think in terms of organizing strategy, you know, I was, I still am, I love the Alinsky kind of style of organizing. Like I say, I like a good fight and I like raising hell, but---and Selinger and I would talk a lot about that---it's like Alinsky would come into a community and leave... like you might get some really good action going around some issues but where are you 10 years after once he goes? And some of the stuff we need to do is organizing long term."


"I mean one of the things that really helped me move in my organizing skills was a book that Lee Staples put together with ACORN called Roots to Power."

The once-mighty community activist group ACORN disbanded in 2010 after employees got caught on video advising conservative community activists posing as a prostitute and her pimp on how to avoid paying taxes. Funding, which had continued despite years of convictions and allegations of ACORN voter registration frauds, dried up, forcing them out of business. In 2008 alone, election officials in a single state rejected 400,000 bogus voter registrations collected by an ACORN registration drive.

Alinsky is Saul Alinsky, whose book Rules for Radicals is the Holy Bible for "community organizers." Anyone who watched the 2011 provincial election and saw how Tory leader Hugh McFadyen was eviscerated need only turn to one of Alinsky's basic principles to understand how Selinger applied what he learned.

Wrote Alinsky:

"The thirteenth rule: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that the organizer should always regard as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and “frozen.” By this I mean that in a complex, interrelated, urban society, it becomes increasingly difficult to single out who is to blame for any particular evil."

When choosing a target, he said, "it must be a personification, not something general and abstract...It is not possible to develop the necessary hostility against say, City Hall, which after all is a concrete, physical, inanimate structure or against a corporation which has no soul or identity..."

The leader of the CIO labour organization in the 1930's never attacked General Motors, but always its president, wrote Alinsky.

Even when you could find the NDP strategy in a 40-year-old book, and posted on the Internet, the useless Conservative war room couldn't figure out what was happening to them. And people still wonder why they lost....

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Election Notes

It didn't take long for Manitobans to discover what a vile human being they elected as Premier of the province.

Hugh McFadyen, the hapless leader of the soundly trounced Conservative Party, had just begun his concession speech. He was thanking his "team" for running a great campaign, when, to everyone's astonishment, Premier-elect Greg Selinger tromped into NDP election headquarters to deliver his victory speech.

The television stations immediately cut away from McFadyen to focus on Selinger. But the act of deliberately disrespecting a Party leader on election night was so blatant it shocked the election night hosts on every channel.

Sun TV's Krista Erickson and Charles Adler were visibly stunned at what they were seeing. Guest pundit Tom Brodbeck labelled it "classless." On CBC, host Janet Stewart was noticeably upset and at a loss for words to describe the unprecedented slight to McFadyen. Her co-host, poli-sci prof Paul Thomas launched a rambling defence of Selinger, imagining some unfortunate timing mixup.

Nonsense. Unless he's gone totally senile, Thomas has been around long enough to know that party leaders are glued to their TV screens and hang on every word of an opponent's concession speech.

Selinger's grand entrance was no mistake. It was intended to deliberately rub McFadyen's nose in the dirt. And to send a thuggish message -- this is what to expect if you cross the NDP in the next four years.

Selinger's crass performance even managed to divert the TV reporters from the surprise announcement by Hugh McFadyen that this was quitting as leader of the PC's.
At last Hughie did something right. Except that it was 28 days too late.

To the very end, McFadyen had no clue what a complete disaster he's been as leader of his party. McFadyen will go down in the books as the worst Opposition leader in the past 50 years, worse even than his gutless predecessor, Stu Murray, who held the title before him.

Wearing the same pasted-on smile he carried throughout the election period, McFadyen, before the cameras cut away to Selinger, was actually praising the campaign that ended his political career.
It was, he gushed, a "great campaign" and he couldn't imagine a better one. He even named the architects--- Don Plett, Jonathan Lyon, Marni Larkin, Ken Lee, Jonathan Scarth, "I'm proud of this campaign," he beamed, proving that neither he nor his "team" had a single political instinct between them and that the entire tone-deaf entourage should be tossed out the Exit door together.

Its hard to imagine a worse election campaign than the one devised by the Conservative brain trust. These geniuses lost the election on Day One, the day they announced they were abandoning all the Conservative Party principles and becoming the NDP Mark II. They would, henceforth, spend more money than the NDP, spend faster, spend longer and take the province deeper into debt, they declared proudly.

They would, they said, make the Conservative Party indistinguishable from the NDP. That, without a doubt, would make the public flock to their fearless leader, Hugh McFadyen.

Their differences with NDP policy was minor, they told the public. Crime? More police dogs was the answer. Health? More everything, just like the NDP promised. Taxes? No worries. They would cut taxes and make it up by borrowing more money, just like the NDP.

This, of course, came as no surprise to readers of The Black Rod. We explained five years ago that McFadyen was openly engaged in turning the Conservative Party of Manitoba into the Liberals.

He was attracting Liberals as candidates, he was relying on Liberal advisors, and, federally, he was backing turncoat Tories who jumped to the Liberal Party. It took him five years, but he finally achieved his goal, only to discover the Liberal Party brand was dead in Canada.

We never imagined he would take the party even further left and become the NDP in all but name.

The damage done by McFadyen and his team isn't just a temporary setback. The Manitoba P.C. Party is leaderless and rudderless. Hey, it's just like the federal Liberal Party. Way to go Hughie.

Krista Erickson sent a shiver down our backs when she mused that maybe the PC's would consider Slimebag Gord Steeves for leader. Why not? He's a Liberal and a cheap slimy politician, exactly what the Conservative brain trust finds attractive.
Steeves, you'll remember, lied to the electorate in St. Vital by pretending he wanted to represent them in City Council, when all along he was planning to dump them and run for provincial office.

He's cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for a by-election in November, and the only saving grace is that voters rejected him soundly in the provincial election. Who says there wasn't any good news.

Asked after his defeat if he would consider running for the city council seat he quit, he wouldn't say no. Once you've stuck your snout into the public trough its hard to stop. Gord Steeves---a slimebag to the end. Why does anyone wonder why people don't vote?

Here, meanwhile, is some food for thought.
Based on the election results in Wednesday's Winnipeg Free Press (Page B6) we learned:

* Fewer than 7000 votes separated the NDP and Conservatives. You read that right. The NDP got fewer than 7000 more votes than the Tories in the province. Remember that the next time Greg Selinger claims he speaks for the province on anything.

* The Conservatives got 29,000 more votes than in 2007.

* The NDP got 6600 less.

* The Liberal vote dropped by a shade more than 20,000. Subtract leader Jon Gerrard's 4742 votes in River Heights and the Liberals average less than 500 votes per riding. Will somebody please put a stake in the heart of this vampire.

* The Green Party almost doubled their vote, from 5586 to 10,571. Before you start throwing confetti, that averages to less than 100 votes per riding.

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