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Newsmaker of the Year - It's no contest.

The sun is shining on Winnipeg today in more ways than one as we announce the recipient of the coveted The Black Rod Newsmaker of the Year Award for 2011.
It wasn't even close.

He was a shoo-in. The man of the hour. If we had a laurel wreath we would crown him with it.

Mark Chipman.

He brought the Winnipeg Jets back. You don't need to say another word.
He's 50; he's co-owner of True North Sports and Entertainment; he's got a degree in economics and worked as a lawyer. Blah blah blah. Who cares?

He brought the Jets back. Now there's an accomplishment.

It's like Prometheus bringing Man fire. Or Dr. Frankenstein seeing his creation twitch and breathe for the first time.

"It's alive! It's alive!"

For the return of the Jets has brought life back to Winnipeg. Life and sunshine. And song. And confidence. And hope. Can love be far behind?

Chipman did it, and he did it without massive government subsidy or a massive ego.

With the blinding light of the return of the Jets burning off the gloom that's choked the city for-, it seems like forever, we can see the stark contrast between what truly inspires the city and the dreck the city's elites tried to sell us.

Oh, look, there's the world's ugliest structure, a giant glass piece of Trudeau, doesn't it make you proud? Uh, no. It makes us poor and nauseus.

Oh, look, Spirited Energy. Doesn't it make you excited? No, it's hokey and embarassing.

Oh, look, an airport, massively over budget and wrapped in lawsuits. Isn't it beautiful? Yeah, but--- the Jets are back!

There's another reason for being thankful for Mark Chipman. If he hadn't done the impossible, we would have been forced to go to the Dark Side to name a Newsmaker of the Year.

Where Mark Chipman is the symbol of the postive, our only other choice was the symbol of the negative.

It was Greg Selinger. the dirtiest politician in Manitoba, who won a provincial election by running the dirtiest campaign ever. But in doing so he achieved his greatest goal---turning Manitoba into a single-party state.

Selinger did more than defeat the Opposition. He eliminated it. The Progressive Conservative Party is dead. As dead as Winnipeg's hopes before the Jets came back. Not dead metaphorically. Dead in reality, as in not coming back to life.

To achieve that, Selinger had the help of P.C. leader Hugh McFadyen, who ran an election where he placed his party to the left of the NDP and disconnected from its base. Given Selinger's far left leaning, that was next to impossible, and yet McFadyen managed it.

Selinger has defanged every independent watchdog in the province. We've seen how Elections Manitoba cooperates with the NDP to coverup election fraud. The Auditor General toadies to the Party. The Ombudsman may be worse.

Remember the Hydro Whistleblower complaint to the Ombudsman? The first and only complaint under the government's vaunted whistleblower legislation? It's now three years and counting and no word from the Ombudsman's office, unless you think burying a complaint until after a provincial election is the appropriate action.

Oh, and remember how the Auditor General first tried to seize control of the Whistleblower complaint and bury it under a years-long investigation, until The Black Rod exposed a conflict of interest between her and Hydro? She declared then, that she would still investigate the whistleblower's complaints against Hydro on her own.

Yep. Still waiting.

Selinger leads the press, read the Winnipeg Free Press, around by the nose, with newspaper co-owner Bob Silver sitting on his lap, oops, we mean on his economic advisory council and using the newspaper to promote whatever government scheme is front and centre in the moment.

Spirited Energy, anyone? The Crocus Fund?

The Legislature sat only 54 days this year. And the government spent almost a billion dollars without going to the Legislature for approval. And that was with an alleged Opposition in the House. Now that the Tories have zero credibility and zero future, its clear sailing for Selinger to turn the province into social workers' socialist paradise.

Thank goodness we had a choice between the Light and the Darkness.

Turning away from the Dark, The Black Rod would like to wish A Happy New Year to:

* Krista Erickson. You go girl. In your first year with Sun TV you've driven the biddies crazy. You gored a sacred cow. You made television history with the greatest number of complaints by Lefties ever. You're on the cutting edge of journalism in this country with your colleagues at Sun. And still lookin' good.

* Ezra Levant. What a refreshing breath of Western air. Every day we watch is a hoot. Fearless. And brilliant journalism. An inspiration to every Canadian not on the payroll of "the state broadcaster."

* Susan Auch. A medal-winning Olympian, you were criminally underused and underappreciated by the losing team in the last provincial election. You should have been on every election poster as an inspiration to all Manitobans. Instead they went with a grinning nobody with chemically enhanced teeth and a dangerously advancing widow's peak. Mayor Susan Auch. It has a nice ring.

* Colin Craig. You're in the front lines of the People's Opposition now. Strap your helmet on tight.

* John Harvie. As the Green Party candidate in Winnipeg North, you drained more than enough support from the NDP to deny them the seat held by Judy Wasylycia-Leis for over a decade. And you did it on an election budget of zero. We won't hold it against you that you got a Liberal elected. You are democracy in action, dude.

* Shelly Glover. The drive-by smear on you by the MSM failed miserably. The press gallery's favoured Liberals are on the trash heap and you are a rising star in Parliament.

* Vic Toews. You're living proof that there's no benefit to sucking up to the press. Don't give an inch. Challenge every lie. Watch 'em scurry under their rocks and whine.

* Lubomyr Luciuk. Guts. When the backers of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights launched an all-out assault on the Ukrainian community with wild accusations of anti-semitism to get you to shut up, you kept to the high road and refused to jump into the gutter with Gail Asper and her pals. It took a lot of guts to take the heat from that once-powerful quarter and to keep fighting for your cause without backing down as they hoped. And you did it with class, shaming your opponents in the process. Bravo.

* Menno Zacharias. It's been a joy watching you grow as a blogger.

* Rae Butcher. You're a bona fide, certified citizen journalist now. And you did it without any help from the "professionals" at the Winnipeg Free Press who will apparently be tutoring bloggers at their news cafe, God help us.

- 30 -


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