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:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Citizen journalists on a roll

Winnipeg bloggers have cracked big stories twice this month, teaching the mainstream media a painful lesson about citizen journalism.

Perhaps the most oblivious to what was happening right under their collective noses were the "professional" journalists at the Winnipeg Free Press which has been patting itself on the back for becoming a partner with the Winnipeg Foundation in a project to "train and empower citizen journalists".

Menno Zacharias blogs at Policing, Politics and Public Policy. (Can we have a contest to find him a better name for his blog. Please.) Naturally, as a retired deputy police chief, he still has an interest in what's going on with the Force. So when the WPD released its 2010 annual report in December, Menno pulled out his Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass.

Now, Zacharias is Old School. That means he can add, subtract, multiply and divide. And he knows how to read. And while going over the numbers provided by the police service, he spotted something that went unnoticed by all those, ahem, "professional" reporters.

"... the most glaring aspect of the report is in the math: crunch the city-wide crime numbers as they are shown and compare 2010 to 2009 and you will come up with a 9 percent increase in crime as opposed to the 7 percent decrease that the Annual Report states. What?!"

He even gave the professionals a journalism lesson, showing them step-by-step how he twigged onto the story and how he developed it.

"What originally caused me to take a closer look at the numbers was the apparent disparity between the reported reduction at the district level (see column 1) . The District numbers show reductions in the range of 20-30 percent and yet the city-wide reduction was listed as -7%. Something’s wrong here."

"The next step was to do the actual calculations using the District and city-wide data as listed in the 2009 and 2010 Annual Reports. The results of those calculations are listed in column 2. There is a significant disparity between the two columns – at this point I’m ready to suggest that the Police Service pull the 2010 Annual Report off the website, scrap the whole mess and start over."

Not even two week later--- guess what?


The Winnipeg Police Service 2010 Annual Report was made available to the public on December 28th, 2011. Following its release a statistical error come to light that will result in the Service releasing an amended version of our 2010 Annual Report.
The amendments will require a change to the Criminal Code Offences by Month Chart and the Total Criminal Code Offences Chart. Once this work is completed, we will update the charts in question, add footnotes in our Annual Report to clearly explain the changes and advise the public when the updated Report is available.

Percentage Change Errors

The Total and Grand Total data that initially appeared in the 2010 Annual Report reflected a month-to-month percentage change. The pending revision will show the correct year-over-year percentage change calculations.

The news that the Winnipeg Police had withdrawn their annual report has gone unreported in the MSM.

The possibility that crime has leaped almost 10 percent in one year has gone unexplored.

Graham Hnatiuk blogs at Progressive Winnipeg. Prior to the civic election in 2010 he was closely watching the public debate over the botched public consultations on a number of city projects, but particularly a bike path along Assiniboine Avenue. He did what none of the "professional" reporters did --- he applied some brain power to the debate.

If the public consultations were done so poorly, why were we paying the consultant who was responsible? Hnatiuk decided to ask the city auditor if he would conduct an audit to determine if taxpayers got value for their money.

Easier said than done, as it turned out, as we'll show in a bit. But, believe it or not, the audit of the Assiniboine Avenue bike path was conducted, and this month it was presented to city council.

The auditor said Hnatiuk had been completely correct. The Assiboine Avenue public consultations had been a farce. They had been a biased, one-sided, propaganda exercise designed to fool residents and businesses into accepting the bike path by hiding its impact from them until it was too late. In short, it had been a total waste of money.

Oh well, too bad, too late to do anything about it, tough luck and all that, said the mayor and city councillors who wanted to rubberstamp the auditor's report as information and forget about it.

Not so fast, said Hnatiuk.

He appeared in person, first before executive policy committee and then before city council, to argue that council was making a huge mistake if they failed to act on the auditor's report.

"What I went through is why people are not involved in civics and do not participate as active citizens and refrain from participating in any city process," he told the councillors.

His story was startling.

Hnatiuk tried to send an email to the city auditor regarding the Assiniboine bike path through the 311 information system.

Somebody intercepted the message and diverted it away from the city auditor, without Hnatiuk's knowledge or approval, to Active Transportation coordinator Kevin Nixon.

Hnatiuk was then notified that Nixon had allegedly investigated his complaint and found it groundless.

When Hnatiuk insisted his email still be passed on to the city auditor, the acting 311 contract centre manager, Joel Knockaert, refused. Knockaert insisted "the role of the City Auditor is not to deal with public complaints."

That was blatantly false. Hnatiuk learned that the website of the city auditor says exactly the opposite, that the auditor welcomes complaints from the public.

Knockaert didn't care. He wouldn't pass along Hnatiuk's email to the city auditor. He had full control of the process and no citizen would tell him what to do.

Hnatiuk eventually managed to get a message to the city auditor ---with the help of councillor Jeff Browaty who went around 311.

The auditor vindicated him entirely. His complaint was fully warranted and supported by the facts.

But what was city council going to do about the bureaucrats who tried their best to silence a citizen, to cover-up the incompetence of the public consultation process that had been conducted, and who may have lied to do it?

Hnatiuk asked council to investigate the actions of Kevin Nixon and Joel Knockaert. He said he had tried to get his hands on any report of the alleged investigation conducted by Nixon regarding the consultant's competency, without luck.

But he wasn't having any luck with council, either.

The mayor and councillors, who cried crocodile tears during the civic election campaign over inadequate public consultations, weren't interested in investigating how the public's voice was stifled by bureaucrats in the pocket of a secret lobby group.

Nor did they show any interest in addressing the message they were sending to potential voters and non-voters -- that their voice matters -- and city hall isn't run as a private club.

The "professional" reporters showed no interest either in how easily city bureaucrats hijacked the official process to keep a citizen away from the legislated city watchdog to protect a secret group of insiders from scrutiny.

And these are the people who will be, ahem, mentoring citizen journalists of the future.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Liberal Party plan for resurrection

The Liberal Party of Canada laid out its resurrection strategy in broad strokes this past weekend. But if you depended on the national news media to tell you what it was, you would be SOL.

Like cats chasing every new tinkly ball, the "professional" reporters pounced on one debate after another (oh look, the monarchy; no, 'supporters'; no, over here, pot). But the big picture escaped them. Them, not us.

The Liberals, in short, are planning to outflank the NDP, retake Quebec, and gain a foothold in the West through B.C.

They're admitting they have no chance to win the next election, but clawing their way back to Official Opposition will be a win. Everything is geared to that goal.

Michael Ignatieff, the former leader who led the team off the cliff, spelled out the master strategy, not that the MSM was paying attention.

"We have to speak for the Canada we love, a Canada in which we think we want to stand for green energy rather than dirty oil," he declared.


That's the sound of the West falling off the Liberal bus forever.

There goes Alberta, and Saskatchewan, which was a backwater until it developed its oil. And even southwestern Manitoba, a province rapidly becoming the Greece of Canada, which is desperately trying to tap into that portion of the Baaken oil reserve that sideswipes the province.

"The future of this party resides in Quebec. Canada's future resides in Quebec, also," said Ignatieff in French.

Take that NDP. If the future of the Liberals lies in Quebec, they have to take the province back or they're dead.

The Party revealed even more during the caucus accountability plenary (a fancy word for Q and A.)

Edmonton MP Grant Mitchell said the Liberals had their best showing in Alberta when they stepped out of the mushy middle and took strong positions. The environment is going to be the Liberal Party's banner issue from now on, he said.

The caucus under interim leader Bob Rae staked out a Hard Left heading for the next Parliament, a position obviously designed to carve away support from the NDP.

MP Scott Brison committed the Liberals to fighting for higher tax rates. "I'm with Warren Buffet," he said. The Liberals will demand a study of the tax system, he said, with the goal "a "fairer" tax system." You don't need the Liberal Left code book to know what that means.

The Liberals embraced their failed hug-a-thug policies of yore. "We are basing our policy on prevention, not imprisonment," said a caucus rep. The Conservatives believe in locking up criminals, but that results in "less protection for the victim", he said. (Honest, we're not making it up.) "We will change that agenda," he said.
Of special interest to Manitoba, the Liberals promised to adopt the Quebec model of youth justice -- known as the revolving door.

Foreign Aid? Immigration? The Liberals plan on reversing targetted aid. They intend to increase spending in Africa just like the old days. And Michael Ignatieff promised a Canada "that does not shut the door on strangers."

Agriculture? "We're absolutely committed to supply management." What province depends on supply management more than everyone else? Oh, yeah, Quebec. And for the rest of the country? "We fought hard to retain prison farms," said Liberal agriculture critic Wayne Easter . (You just can't make this stuff up.)

No matter how you look at it, the Liberal platform isn't designed to win voters away from the Conservatives. Everything points to a Hard Left orientation that's aimed at NDP voters in the last election. Even the "revolutionary" policies of opening the Liberal Party to "supporters" who need not become members is intended to bleed left-leaning activists into the Liberal camp and away from the NDP.

But they may have overreached themselves with their commitment to legalize marijuana. Seen even by the MSM as a lure for young voters who don't care about politics in general, and voters in British Columbia in particular, the adoption of a pro-pot policy may be too clever by half.

It permits the Conservatives to attack the Liberals for being as soft on drugs of all sort as they are on crime. And it opens them to the charge of a "secret agenda." You can bet the Liberal Party will not have their pot policy in their next election platform; the leader retained his right to filter out policy resolutions for election campaigns.
But it's there, in the closet, waiting to be launched if the Liberals get reelected, as the Conservatives will remind parents over and over again.
Given that the NDP agrees with virtually everything the Liberals has declared to be their policy, the battle lines are drawn.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Citizen journalists are chasing two explosive new angles to the CMHR debacle.

Like an avalanche, the controversy over the bankrupt Canadian Museum for Human Rights is growing exponentially, with the same ultimate conclusion. Somebody is going to be buried under the rubble.

This week alone two new fronts have opened up, either of which can blow holes in the museum's remaining reservoir of public support.

1. The CMHR, the cost of which is rapidly approaching $400 million, didn't have a project manager?

This made us sit up and take notice.
Reported first and exclusively in the blog Anybody Want A Peanut?, this revelation should send shock waves throughout Manitoba and right to Ottawa.

Blogger Cherenkov wrote on Sunday:

"I'm not a project manager by trade, but I have worked on projects and taken project management training and I am confident in saying this: if you want your project to come in on time and on budget it needs to be properly managed. Especially if it's a large project like, oh I don't know ... just pulling something out of the air here ... the Canadian Museum for Human Rights."
"It may come as a surprise to you then, that the project management contract was only just awarded, over three years after the ground breaking ceremony. The RFP (you can still view the notice here) closed on October 24 and approximately two months later the lucky (?) winner was picked. It was supposed to be announced at the end of October but you know how things go ..."
"When I say “the project management contract”, I mean the task of overall management of the project. The scope of the RFP includes:
- Oversight over the parallel sub-projects that go into the construction of the museum and everything inside the museum, leading up to opening day.
- Coordination, risk management, reporting and resource allocation
- Tracking the status of all major components of construction, including budgets.
- Guidance and recommendations to the CMHR executive."

Guess what else didn't have a project manager?

None other than the project the proponents of the CMHR measure themselves against, that legendary boondoggle, the Sydney Opera House.

Its cost went from $7 million (Australian) when started in the Fifties to $101 million when finished 15 years later.

But the story gets curiouser. Here's what the CMHR board told Ottawa in their 2008 report to Parliament:

Program Activity 2: Accommodation

The building construction will commence at the beginning of April, 2009, for completion in 2012. By the end of calendar year 2008, the Museum had:

Established a Board Committee-of-the-Whole to oversee the construction project and retained an external advisor to provide expert advice on construction and risk management;

Undertook extensive due diligence on the proposed building design, a detailed risk mitigation strategy, and the construction budget and schedule, resulting in the approval of the Predock design;

Completed extensive Value Engineering to identify items that will be modified or removed in order to reduce the construction budget without affecting the integrity of the original design;

Developed a financial risk management strategy to address the anticipated gap between the budget and available funds caused by inflation during the time the Museum was being established as a national institution;

Finalized contract details with Antoine Predock Architects, Smith Carter Constructors and PCL (construction managers); also retained a Project Manager, who is experienced in government capital projects;

So if they hired a project manager in 2008, why were they looking for another one in 2011?
Was the original project manager fired? Did he or she quit?

And is the federal Auditor interested in how the federal government could spend $100 million plus millions more in operating costs on a project without a project manager who oversees the project from top to bottom to ensure money is spent properly?

Should someone nudge the MSM and set them asking questions?

2. Is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights planning a venomous spit in the eye of Canada's ethnic groups, especially the Ukrainians, that oppose the predominance of the Holocaust in the museum?

While scanning the offerings in Tuesday's podcast from The Great Canadian Talk Show

We were jerked to a halt by this note:
"one of our listeners figured out the Museum’s grand opening is designed to exclude the Holodomor"

The story involved the museum's announced plans for the inaugural exhibits when (and if) the CMHR opens in 2014.

We remembered thinking that 4000 square metres was a pretty small opening exhibit in a building that has 24,000 sq.m. of exhibit space (the exact number varies from day to day, but this is in the ballpark). We didn't put two and two together.

A listener of TGCTS did.

4000 square metres is almost exactly the size of the Holocaust gallery in the museum! The Holocaust gallery is one of only two permanent galleries in the building. Canada's ethnic groups are united in opposing the plan of the CMHR board of trustees to tell Canadians and the world that a genocide against one group (the Holocaust) has more importance than the mass murders of all other ethnic groups in history.

Is that the plan? To open the CMHR with only the Holocaust gallery ready for viewing?

Somebody in Ottawa better be asking questions about how the public museum is going to be portrayed on opening day.

3. And speaking of permanent and non-permanent exhibitions, we haven't been asleep either. The Black Rod has broken the museum's speech code. The code of Doublespeak.

The proponents of the CMHR have been good students of George Orwell. The Winnipeg Free Press has turned the pigs of Orwell's Animal Farm into the heroes of the story to explain how in the museum all groups are equal, except that some are more equal than the others and that's a good thing. Editorialists and columnists are engaged in rewriting history, just like the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's '1984'. And the staff at the museum have learned to speak in Doublespeak, where permanent exhibits are temporary and temporary exhibits are permanent, depending.

They've been so good at it that they've thoroughly confused both supporters and opponents of the museum's plans to give the Holocaust "permanent" status and others "temporary but permanent" status or is that "permanent while temporary" status. This story is an example of the museum's failure to clarify the situation.

But we figured out what they've been saying, so poorly.

Let's put it in terms to which people can relate.

Suppose you want to open a Performing Arts Museum. You decide that movies are the most important performing art and so the only permanent gallery in the museum will be dedicated to motion pictures.

All the rest of the performing arts will be grouped in themes. So novels will be in the Writing gallery between Shakespeare and rap. Dancing will be in the Body In Motion gallery alongside Vaudeville pratfalls and television comedians who trip a lot.

Every time you go to the Movies Gallery you will see something about movies. It might be an exhibit on screwball comedies one day, film noir another. But always about movies. This gallery is permanently about movies.

The exhibits in the other galleries will also change regularly. But if you want to study Disco dancing, for example, you can, at any time, regardless of the exhibit being presented. That's because the museum's exhibits are all saved in digital form. You can call them up on the internet, or in person in some interactive medium. In that fashion, they're permanent.

The Movies Gallery is permanent because its always about movies.

The Dancing exhibits are permanent, because they're always available in digital form.

In the same way, the Holocaust Zone in the CMHR will be permanent because it will be permanently dedicated to the Holocaust.

The rest of the museum's exhibits, including anything about the Holodomor, will also be permanent, permanently in the museum and permanently available to visitors.

At the same time, if they ever find enough money to finish the temporary gallery, the museum can have temporary exhibits on the Holocaust and the Holodomor.

In such a case, the temporary exhibit, because it, too, will be in digital form, will become part of either the permanent Holocaust gallery or a permanent addition to the Holodomor exhibit.


And finally, speaking of codes...

Brent Bellamy is the senior design architect for Number Ten Architectural Group and the author of a pro-CMHR column for the Winnipeg Free Press. We called him on his enthusiasm for a blank cheque to complete the museum project. We also referenced his pro-museum writings under a pseudonym on an internet forum.

He spent the next day crying on the internet about being "blackroded."

"isnt 'it against some kind of blogger/forum code of ethics to call out someone's actual identity?.." he asked.

Actually, there is. It's an unwritten code where you don't publish a person's true name if they chose to comment under a pseudonym. It's a courtesy almost everyone adheres to, except for the Junior G-Men supporting Bellamy who've started accusing each other of being The Black Rod.

But we didn't break that code.

And if Bellamy had retracted as we asked him to, we wouldn't be writing this.

In fact, it was those very Bellamy boosters who identified him as Trueviking as soon as his column was printed which he acknowledged.

"Jan 3, 2012, 5:12 AM
Nice column TV.
thanks...the comments kept me entertained all throwing a dead cow in a pool of piraña.
Registered User
Nice article viking, a good read "

Twice he was identified. The first time he even thanked the poster. The moderator never admonished anyone or reminded them of " the code. "

You only lose your virginity once, TV.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How Hugh McFadyen saved the Selinger NDP from sure defeat.

In politics, the only thing better than winning is winning so decisively you can rub your opponent's nose in it.

Following the crash-and-burn campaign conducted by the Manitoba Conservatives in the last provincial election, Tory honkers are redder than Rudolph's from being rubbed in the dirt so much.

One of the chief architects of the crushing defeat handed to the PC Party is the NDP's campaign director Michael Balagus. He was in Vancouver last month taking another victory lap at the expense of the hapless, helpless and hopeless Conservatives.

The scene was the annual convention of the British Columbia NDP. Balagus was on a panel discussing tactics, strategies and innovation that he and two other campaign organizers across the country used to win elections.

Balagus got to tell the story of how the NDP used their greatest asset---Conservative Party leader Hugh McFadyen---to turn almost sure defeat into their fourth victory in a row.

We now know that for months before the election call, the NDP surveyed voters, and what they heard was worse than discouraging. People thought it was time for a change of government. Not even spinning their new leader, Mr. Personality himself, Greg Selinger, as a change from the old leader, Gary Doer, made any difference. The electorate wasn't buying it, said Balagus.

So the NDP reached deep down into their bag of tricks for a "hail Mary" play. It was easy now that the dirtiest politician in Manitoba was now their leader.

In their case it meant taking the low road. The NDP hammered McFadyen with attack ads.

"We redefined change as risk," he told the audience. And that risk was electing Hugh McFadyen.

"We went early and we went hard," he said. Not everyone in the Party was happy with the direction the campaign took. "I took a lot of heat.” admitted Balagus.

As you remember, the only response from McFadyen was a firm shrug as he imitated a walking human punching bag for the entire campaign. When he finally stood up on his tippytoes and issued a lame denial that he was going to do the evil things that the NDP said he was going to do, the Dippers knew he was toast.

So they piled on. For the last 10 days of the campaign, said Balagus, that became the entire focus of the NDP message. They were "relentless," he said.

And hugely successful. Winning an election they were poised to lose. Shattering the PC Party of Manitoba into Humpty Dumpty pieces. And earning bragging rights across the country for years to come.

“If we don’t believe there’s a difference, if we don’t tell people there’s a difference, they’re not going to get it,” Balagus said in defence of the NDP's mudslinging campaign.

He could have added that the McFadyen Tories ran an entire campaign without criticizing the NDP. In short, they told the electorate there was no difference between them and the government, except that the Conservatives would run deficits longer. That's why their campaign managers aren't giving speeches to PC parties across Canada.

And why they sport red clown noses.

Balagus, meanwhile, has learned why opening Pandora's box is a risky business.

It turns out that the NDP footsoldiers weren't the only ones listening to his pearls of wisdom on how to win an election.

Within 3 weeks of his sharing his secrets, Christy Clark's B.C. Liberal Party launched an attack ad on NDP leader Adrian Dix. The thrust? They're attacking him for his job as political advisor to the NDP---in the 1990's. Dix responded by calling the ad "sad and desperate."

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

From Shill to Saint. What a week on the CMHR front.

Winnipeg got a lesson in true philanthropy this past week. A retired pharmacist who quietly -- nay, secretly, to even his family --- saved up a million dollars, donated it this week, half to the Misericordia Health Centre Foundation and half to the Riverview Heath Centre Foundation.

Laurie Johnston did it with humility and with little fanfare. He didn't ask for a towering statue to be erected in his name, a backlit plaque, or even a framed certificate from the Premier. He did it, he said, to repay a debt to a deceased family friend who generously gave him $200 to tide him over in the weeks before he took his final pharmacy exams so long ago.

Passing it forward was payment enough for him.

People couldn't help but contrast his donation with the spectacle of a family of millionaires demanding a blank cheque from the federal government to finish building a giant monument to their deceased father under the guise of a gift to the community --- a gift nobody asked for, nobody wants to pay for, and which has turned into a gigantic money pit that's draining contributions from every true charity in the province.

A new shill for the aforesaid Canadian Museum for Human Rights popped up early in the week in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press, the propaganda arm of the museum. Or, rather, an old shill with newfound humility.

Brent Bellamy is the senior design architect for Number Ten Architectural Group.

He's no stranger to readers of The Black Rod.

Three years ago, when construction on the doomed CMHR started, he gloated in the faces of opponents of the project.

"A Winnipeg architect who posts on internet message boards under the name Trueviking is an avid defender of the CMHR. He let slip the true attitude of the museum backers in this post Tuesday to a critic:
Yesterday, 06:36 PM
suck it up big boy...the party has started and there is nothing you can do about it except cry in your beer....insert red river jig here.
(...when only The Black Rod was predicting humongous cost overruns, he responded to our persistent coverage of the CMHR.)
05-16-2009, 01:01 PM Human rights museum budget already short
Yesterday, 04:33 AM
we should have two for people who want to follow the construction and discuss the evolution of this incredible project ... and one for guys who want to quote black rod, that beacon of un-biased journalism, and worry that the federal government might have to pay for meaningless cost overruns or the operation of a federal museum, god forbid."

Now that he's begging the federal government to pay for meaningless cost overruns, he's adopted a different attitude.

"Inspiration comes with a cost," summed up the headline over the article by Bellamy.

Bellamy wrote that the latest cost overruns on the project ($41 million and counting) were not surprising and were, in fact, "not uncommon for a complex building of this type."

Well, duh. The only ones professing surprise are the politicians who approved the museum and its proponents. The public, which has had plenty of experience with these charades, was predicting from the day it was announced that the cost would at least double or triple.

"The budget shortfall of the CMHR is unfortunate..." concluded Bellamy.

No, it's criminal.

The museum was built by fraud.

Its backers knew the cost they were tossing around was false, and would be used only to get the project started whereupon they would extort tens of millions more from complacent government officials.

Bellamy acknowledged that eliminating construction overruns is possible---by making the architects and engineers agree to be responsible for paying them out of their own pockets---but the result, he said, is boring buildings.

No, he said, the public needs to pay the big bucks for a fancy schmancy building "to transform Winnipeg's uninspired image abroad and cultivate a new confidence within." Cue the violins.

"A citys (sic) economy is fueled by optimism and the CMHR is a large part of Winnipeg's new confidence."

That's funny. The City felt pretty much the same for the past three years as the museum monstrosity was being built. It only came alive on the day the return of the Winnipeg Jets was announced.

But, then, the Winnipeg Free Press is engaged in rewriting history, and Bellamy is obviously part of that campaign.

"The CMHR reinforces Winnipeg's reputation as a creative city of art and culture," the architect rhapsodized delusionally.

Unless there's another city called Winnipeg on this planet, that has to be the dumbest statement made by anyone supporting the museum yet. Winnipeg's reputation throughout Canada is of murders and mayhem.

To even write "a city of art and culture" shows the vast gulf between reality and the fantasy world the Winnipeg elites live in.

"The CMHR... and its daring form contributes to a growing public appreciation for the unique architectural design that is transforming Winnipegs modern urban image."

Hey, Brent, the only thing growing is public anger at having their pockets picked to fund this money pit, and at the politicians who want to raise taxes on homeowners while turning a blind eye to their millionaire scofflaw friends who fail to pay theirs.

But, then, Bellamy managed to top even himself.

"The Sydney Opera House was 15 years late and 1,400 per cent over-budget, yet few would label it a boondoggle or white elephant. It stands as an example of what can be achieved when risks are taken. The CMHR holds the same transformative potential for Winnipeg."

Big mistake.


Bi-i-i-i-i-i-g mistake.

We went to work researching the Sydney Opera House. The first thing we found was that it is legendary in planning circles as one of the Top Ten boondoggles in modern architecture history.

At a time (the late Fifties) when Australia didn't have enough schools and was suffering a housing shortage with a quarter of a million people living in huts, sheds and ramshackle homes, the government of the day decided to build an opera house.

Just like in Winnipeg, the promoters lowballed the project from the beginning, then watched the cost grow to Godzilla proportions.

They said the cost would be $7 million (Australian). By the time it was finished, it cost $101 million.

Don't do the math, we did it for you. That's about $420 million in today's Canadian dollars, or roughly where the CMHR is heading.

The difference is that the Australian government only paid $100,000 for its end. The rest was made up from a special lottery and it "only" took 16 years to pay the whole cost. (This was back before government lotteries sprang up like weeds in May.)

That's why the public outcry was muted in Sydney.

Unlike Winnipeg, the taxpayer wasn't forced to pay.

But the story gets better.

The budget for the Sydney Opera House caromed so out of control that the government (a new one) seized control of the project!

That's right. THE GOVERNMENT SEIZED CONTROL, exactly what we've been advocating.

In Sydney, the architect quit in a huff and took his plans with him, forcing the new project managers to scramble to recreate his work and watch costs skyrocket even further. They're still trying to fix the acoustics.

You can find two studies on the Sydney Opera House online from two perspectives. They reached the same conclusion.

The first, by what appears to be a student of architecture or engineering, concludes "... although the opera house put Sydney on the world map, both architecturally and culturally... from project management perspective it was a spectacular failure as a consequence of ignoring risk management."

The other, a more professional report focussed on stakeholders by authors, Dr. Paol Canonico and Dr. Jonas Söderlund, concurred: "The Sydney Opera House could probably be seen as one of the most financially disastrous construction projects in history."

But, but, but, isn't the Sydney Opera House famous?

Even Drs. Canonico and Soderlund said so.

"Today, more than being a world-class performing arts centre, the Opera House
represents Sydney and even the whole nation the same way as the Eiffel Tower represents Paris. It’s known not only for its outstanding architecture, but also for exceptional engineering and technological innovation."

The Opera House in Sydney, the main city of Australia, represents the country the same way that the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the main city of France, represents France.

And we're building a giant museum in----the ninth largest city in Canada (by population) isolated on the Prairies, a thousand miles from the largest city in Canada. You know where that's going.

You don't need experts to tell you what you know. Have you heard of the Eiffel Tower? Have you ever heard of the Sydney Opera House? 'Nuff said.

The elites like Bellamy expect you to gush and swoon at the excesses of construction of the CMHR just as they do---cost be damned.

The museum is the size of four football fields. You will enter via a 150-foot deep cavern.

The glass for the "cloud" is imported from Germany.
The steel from Poland, Belgium and the U.S.
Ramps are of alabaster from Spain.
Columns of basalt, 617 metric tonnes "quarried and cut in Inner Mongolia."

An early booster of the museum described it Pharaonic in scale. We looked it up and, yes, it means like the Pharoahs of Egypt.

We were immediately reminded of that famous poem---'Ozymandias' by Shelley.

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".


We got it wrong and we want to correct the record. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights was NEVER intended to be a private museum. We've reported otherwise. But Gail Asper wrote in the 10 Year Anniversary Issue (December, 2010) of a publication put out by the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights that her daddy intended to stick it to the feds from the very beginning.
From the publication:

One misconception that stands out
is how people believed we intended
this to be a private museum. The
opposite is true. Right from the
beginning, my father stated that he
only wanted to spearhead this project,
not run it or control the agenda. That’s
what The Asper Foundation does; we
initiate good ideas that may not come
to pass if we don’t get involved. But
once they’re on their feet, we move on.
Our first letter to the Right Honourable
Jean Chrétien in November 2001 proposes
this as a national, federal museum

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