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, 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.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home