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 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, April 12, 2012

The CMHR boondoggle is not my sister's fault, says David Asper.

They say animals can detect natural disasters before they happen. Well, we, too, can detect disaster in the making and we say "head for the hills, there's some bad s...t coming."

The latest clue is David Asper's op-ed in the Winnipeg Sun telling people to stop picking on his baby sister, Gail, for the debacle known as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

David A. devoted so much space to rewriting the history of the CMHR that it set off alarms that only dogs can hear. It's obvious that there's some very, very bad news about the museum on the horizon and the Aspers want to put as much space between themselves and doomsday as possible.

We first spotted this tactic in December when the Winnipeg Free Press, the propaganda arm of the CMHR, published an editorial writing the Aspers out of the museum narrative and replacing them with P.M. Stephen Harper. That's right. According to the FP circa late 2011, the Aspers were only bit players in the story, and the unfinished museum was "his (Harper's) project", not Izzy Asper's, or, after his death, his daughter Gail's.

Brother David expands on this theme, only in carefully chosen lawyer talk, each word meticulously selected to say what's true, but less than what's really true.

"The federal government assumed ownership and operational control of the museum more than five years ago, when it was formally designated as a national institution under the Museums Act. The federal government and its appointees are responsible for the project."

He fails to note that, according to daughter Gail, Izzy Asper always intended his human rights museum to be a federally funded institution, he made a private deal with fellow Liberal and then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien for $100 million in federal funding, and after his death his daughter lobbied the Conservative government endlessly to give the museum a federal designation.

By the time they agreed, Gail Asper had hired a Toronto firm, Lord Cultural Resources, to develop the concept of an "ideas museum" and write a three-volume Master Plan which the government adopted. And she had conducted a competition for an architect and had selected an "iconic" design which was considered inviolate. And the project came with a budget of $265 million which was affirmed to the Senate without a word of objection from Gail Asper.

Or, in short, he's written Gail Asper out of the story.

"My sister is a member of the board of directors, but has no other role with the museum itself. She volunteers and gives up most of her life to fundraise in order to fill the gap between the amount of funding promised by the federal government and the cost escalation that occurred, as happens with many other projects of this scale."

As the primary fundraiser, she is the chief board member. While she pretended to surrender her power over the major decisions to the government appointed board in 2008, that proved to be an illusion when a debate broke out over whether the Holocaust would be the most prominent element of the whole museum.

Suddenly it was clear that that there was to be no debate among board members, that any decision by the board to reduce the prominence of the Holocaust would go against her daddy's wishes and millions in donations would disappear as a result, and she was hinting detractors were anti-Semites, with no challenge from anyone else on the board, especially hapless CEO Stu Murray who ostensibly works for the federal government and not the Aspers.

As for cost escalation, it was kept a closely guarded secret until The Black Rod crunched the numbers and blew the whistle. Gail isn't doing anybody a favour by fundraising for her father's pet project; she's doing it for herself (as a board member she gets to travel the world) and her father's legacy. Not to mention that the fundraising has collapsed and there is no hope they can raise the $67 million they need simply to finish the shell of the museum, exhibits are extra.

In short, go ahead and rewrite history. Who's going to check, right?

David Asper made sure to write that "the federal government and its appointees" are responsible for the project. It's those "appointees" that are being set up for the blame when the project collapses amid fierce public recriminations. (Note that he obviously doesn't mean this sister, an appointee as well.) Think about it.

We already know the project has run out of money and is nowhere close to being finished. They have no money for utilities or taxes. The cost of the building alone has climbed from $265 million to $356 million. Add another $50 million for the project for an endowment fund to bring 20,000 students per year to the museum, an absolutely vital, non-negotiable element of the project.

If that's not the worst of it, what could be lurking on the horizon?

What did clients think when they heard about the arrest of Bernie Madoff? "Gee, how bad could it be?"

The campaign to disconnect Gail Asper from the Canadian Museum of Human Rights is gathering steam for a reason. We smell that its because there's bad news on the horizon. Real bad. Worse than the public has been told so far. Gee, how bad could it be?

Will we soon hear of even more overruns? FP columnist Dan Lett has already floated the idea of a possible lawsuit against the project engineer. Are the contractors being paid? Are cheques bouncing? There's a reason so many Museum execs have walked away before seeing the project of a lifetime to completion.

How do dogs predict earthquakes?
They just know.

And while we're on the topic, did you read the delusions of Winnipeg lawyer David Matas in last Saturday's Free Press?

Matas was on a panel at a public discussion conflating the Holocaust with residential school experience. His bizarre opening remarks were printed in full.


According to Matas, the "Holocaust was an experience unique in human annals" because "never before or since has a group of people attempted to conquer the world so they could kill all and every member of another group."

"The Holocaust was a crime in which virtually every country in the globe was complicit...."

"The Holocaust happened not because there were racists in power in Germany, but because ordinary people around the world shared the views of Nazis and were eager to co-operate with them in carrying out their plan to extinguish all Jewish life."

"Without the active collaboration of thousands and the passive indifference of millions, the Nazis could not have accomplished their mission of death."

Ummm. There isn't a reputable historian in the world that believes Adolph Hitler wanted to conquer the world. That's comic book thinking.

Hitler wanted to dominate Europe, overthrow the Communists in Russia and expand Germany, eventually, east into Ukraine and Russia. He wasn't planning on invading Canada, or the United States, or Mexico, or Jamaica, or the Philippines, or pretty much anywhere else.

And, yes, the Holocaust DID happen because there were racists in power in Germany. They weren't asking for anyone's permission or help; they did it on their own initiative.

The passive indifference of millions aided the Nazis? Would that be the millions who had no idea of what the Nazis were doing until after the allies overran the death camps?

After blaming everybody in the world for helping Hitler kill the Jews of Europe, Matas concludes that the Holocaust was "the starting or tipping point for our current concept of human rights", which, as it turns out, is exactly the argument for why the Holocaust gets a permanent gallery in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and none of the rest of the world's genocides do.

And, just like that, Matas' paranoid fantasies of the entire world out to get the Jews provided the catalyst to understanding what Gail Asper has been saying about the CMHR all along.

She's said that the museum was never intended to be a Holocaust museum, as critics claim. It was, she says, envisioned as a human rights museum from the start.

But, David Matas has put that into perspective. It's a game of semantics. The story of the Holocaust is the story of human rights, see? They're synonymous, one and the same. You can't have one without the other. So a museum highlighting human rights has to highlight the Holocaust.

In other words, it WAS always intended to be a Holocaust museum. Just not the kind people were used to seeing.

And you need to understand that David Matas was on the museum's Content Advisory Committee.

Is it any wonder now why the CAC's final report had barely a breath about any genocide other than the Holocaust?

Or why the museum completely ignored its own polling of Canadians which said the Holocaust was NOT the main topic they wanted to see in the museum? Or an independent poll that showed Canadians were opposed to giving the Holocaust a stand-alone gallery?

Instead of Never Again, the museum should ask Why Ever? Why did Hitler launch the Holocaust?

A single thematic gallery would answer that question----because he thought he could get away with it
. Turkey got away with the Armenian genocide. Russia got away with the Ukrainian genocide. Why should Germany be different? The Germans just prided themselves for being more efficient.

The CMHR looks to be playing to the paranoid delusions of the David Matases of the country, and promoting an us-versus-them world view. Remember, says Matas,"The Holocaust was a crime in which virtually every country in the globe was complicit...."

Is this how they intend to indoctrinate the children they expect to bring to the museum?

Is this false history to be part of the "lesson" taught in the CMHR?

Just another reason, along with the blatant out-of-control spending, for the federal government to step in, replace the board, and review the whole boondoggle.

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