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The Black Rod's Newsmaker of the Year 2012. The man who said No

The Shadow has a higher public profile than he does.
You couldn't pick him out of a line-up.  If his picture has ever been posted anywhere, let us know.
What is known is that he's got bigger cojones than anyone at City Hall.  This year he stared down the mayor of Winnipeg and the mayor's closest friend and ally,the city's chief administrative officer, who happens to be the most powerful man in city government.
By the time he got through with them, they were sitting in council chambers like frightened schoolboys in the principal's office as they watched their power to intimidate city councillors evaporate into thin air.
And because of him, those councillors developed some backbone for the first time in living memory and showed they could take the reins of government away from unelected administrators if they wanted.
The Black Rod's Newsmaker of the Year---city auditor Brian Whiteside.
Way back as far as last January, Whiteside gave a warning that things were going to…

We're all Treaty People. Right?

Imagine this scenario...
Mohammed and Muhammed go to Iran, a state that sponsors terrorism around the globe, and they loudly and publicly denounce Canada.
Less than two months later, an organized group creates a diversion at the Winnipeg International Airport on one of the busiest travel days of the year, possibly allowing others to test the placement and reaction of security officers. This happens only days before Christmas Eve, the holiest time of the year in the Christian religion.
Later, following the disruption at the airport, Mo-Hamed, an associate of Mohammed and Muhammed, informs the members of his organization he plans "an explosive delivery" to the headquarters of Manitoba Hydro, the company that provides electricity to the province--- most importantly, perhaps, to the furnaces that heat everyones' homes in the winter. It also happens to be the organization he's had a longstanding grievance against.
He is stopped by security guards…

The story Manitoba Hydro doesn't want you to read

Ladies, leave the room.
Now, what's the dirtiest word you'll ever hear in the offices of Manitoba Hydro?
Right.
Privatization.
So what is Manitoba Hydro doing helping to privatize the entire electrical system of another country? You read that right --- country.
The answer is another dirty word --- money.
Nigeria's power system is a total disaster. The country is Africa's most populous nation with 160 million people and is Africa's second largest economy. But it only provides enough electricity, as one newspaper described it, to power a medium-sized European city.
Two years ago Nigeria's president announced a multi-billion dollar plan to privatize the country's power infrastructure to boost production of electricity. Manitoba Hydro was hired this year to make sure the power that is produced gets to substations where it can be distributed to individuals and companies. In other words, to make Nigeria's power system attractive enough to buy …

Pallister defines himself: rich, successful and stupid

From the day he announced his run for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba, Brian Pallister was getting the same advice from pundits and pals alike.

Don't let the NDP define you.
Don't worry, he said. I'll fight back. I won't give them a chance. I'll define myself.
And for a brief, shining moment we stood and applauded Brian Pallister for doing just that. He fought back. Aggressively. He showed more backbone than his two predecessors combined.
And he won. Maybe. Maybe, because it was a pyrrhic victory. He's been defined. Stick a fork in him. He's done. And, if it could be worse, he gave them everything they needed to do it.
We all know by now that Pallister just bought a mansion on Wellington Crescent for $2 million. When the story broke last week, he stood his ground. The house was a product of his success in business and in life, he said. He worked hard for his wealth and he was enjoying it. He ref…

CMHR reaches for your wallet again.

If you thought this summer's $60 million government bailout of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was the last of your money going into this white elephant, then you haven't read their latest corporate plan.
They want more. Lots more. Details in a minute...
The museum's board of trustees realizes it has a great big horking credibility problem.
Among the seven things the Museum "needs" to do is:
* Restore and retain public confidence, developing and sustaining momentum and support until opening and beyond.
Ya think?
Just because the museum proponents...
* lied to the Senate by promising that taxpayers would never be asked for more than the initial $100 million federal start-up money
* deliberately lowballed the cost of the project at $265 million to get government approval---and financing
* lied that the $310 million new cost was the bottom line guaranteed final figure
* lied that the museum would pay its property taxes
* lied to the country's ethnic commun…

The live chicken and the dead duck

Reporters recently went gaga over the story of an activist who brought a live chicken to Winnipeg City Hall.
A delegation showed up to pitch the joys of raising chickens in the city. One of them pulled a live chicken out of a bag. Security was called to get the fowl out. That's the kind of story that only comes along once in a lifetime. Of course, it was covered by every news outlet in the city.
The story left everyone laughing. Everyone who isn't Brian Pallister, the newly minted leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.
In one minute, that chicken created more excitement than Pallister has managed in the six months since he announced his bid to be party leader.
In the week before the current session of the Manitoba Legislature got underway, Pallister had two opportunities to create some buzz. He was the guest speaker at a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce breakfast, surely a friendly audience. News coverage: zero. The next day he was …

MLA Bob Wilson went down on drug charges after RCMP hid vital info from defence

It's shaping up as the biggest news story in Manitoba in 2012.And the timing couldn't be more perfect.

On the eve of the resumption of the Manitoba Legislature, former MLA Robert Wilson has come face-to-face with the exoneration he's chased for more than 30 years, from the day he was arrested in 1979, to the day he was convicted in 1980, to the day he was expelled from the Legislature in 1981, stripped of his pay and pension.

And his honour. Above all, his honour.
For literally a generation, Bob Wilson, now 78 years old, has professed his innocence of the charges of conspiracy to import and traffic marijuana that destroyed his life.

He became the monomaniacal Captain Ahab of Manitoba jurisprudence, hunting his personal white whale--- Ian Jackson "Whitey" Macdonald, a former friend and drug dealer whose surprise visit one evening enmeshed Wilson in an endless nightmare of accusations, prison, shame and regret.
Wilson was arrested, went to tr…

The Winnipeg Firehalls Scandal by the numbers

The last time we looked at the Winnipeg Firehalls Scandal we demonstrated how the project degenerated progressively so that it went from:

- a one million dollar surplus on the first new fire station, then
a pair of big deficits on the next two,

to...

a fourth and final station being built by a process that's completely out of control with:
-  no tender,
-  no contract,
-  no fixed budget,
-  no timeline
-  and no oversight.

Now for the bad news.
To justify city council approval to cover a cost overrun of at least $2.2 million on the firehall currently being built in St. James ( the last of the quartet okayed by council in 2009) the fire department submitted a "report". In it was a financial accounting of the project so far--- what was spent on which firehall and how it compared to the original budget.
We spent a week pouring over the numbers. Here, for the first time ever, is a detailed report of how the new firehalls were built.

If you thought you …

Firehall Follies: Blowback. A swan song. Compare and Contrast.

The blowback came quickly.

Only two days after grilling Winnipeg's most powerful civil servant, who is also the mayor's best friend, about the botched construction of a new firehall, protection committee chair Paula Havixbeck found herself out on her ear.

Mayor Sam Katz replaced her as committee chairman by somebody he hopes is more compliant, Coun. Scott Fielding, in whose ward the new fire station is being built. Katz didn't even try to disguise his shuffle as anything less than retribution for embarassing his friend and Winnipeg CAO, Phil Sheegl.
"...(He) would not respond to questions about whether her criticism of the fire-paramedic station replacement program played a role in that decision," was the way the Winnipeg Free Press told it.

"Katz denied Havixbeck is being demoted, but did not answer questions on whether her criticism of a fire-paramedic station replacement program has played a role in the decision." said the Winn…