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.

Name:
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: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Monday, April 23, 2012

The jury is in on Dan Lett. The verdict: Guilty of Political Bias.

Bias? What bias?

Who said: " Any columnist who claims that personal bias is not an element of his/her writing is a liar"?

It was Dan Lett, the, ahem, political columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press. Now, you didn't hear his confession of bias because he made it in February on the Internet in a response to comments about his alleged pro-NDP bias when writing a column about Manitoba Hydro.

Of course, Lett denied his bias favoured the NDP, adding "But bias is not the issue; fairness and balance is. I leave the readers to assess my success in that regard."

Well, since then, the jury has delivered its verdict and it's so very not good for Dan Lett.

When the NDP delivered their latest provincial budget, Lett wrote how they were showing restraint by cutting spending by almost 4 percent from last year. That was like saying the drunken sailor has stopped buying triples on your credit card and promises to stick to doubles from now on. Is there no end to this austerity?

Commenters on-line swarmed Lett for being the only pundit in Manitoba to see restraint in a budget that promises higher spending than the government forecast for last year, pre-flood. He responded by attacking his challengers as Conservative partisans. The only problem was that the Winnipeg Free Press editorial board agreed with the commenters and said so in print. Pshaw, said Lett. They're entitled to their opinion.

But he outdid himself when the NDP packed the Legislature with pro-government activists to provide themselves with a photo-op to prove they're standing up to the federal Conservatives over changes to immigrant settlement services.


The NDP had Ben Rempel, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Immigration, (you know, one of those, ahem, non-partisan public servants you can trust to do their job fairly and without political bias) send an email to government-funded service agencies inviting them to come one and all, employees and "clients", to the Legislature to see the NDP fight the awful Tories.

To the government's shock, four Conservative Members of Parliament showed up to answer everybody's questions about the proposed changes. There they were--Shelly Glover, James Bezan, Joy Smith and Candice Hoeppner --- in person.

Not hiding.

Not having to be chased through the parking lot like Health Minister Theresa Oswald.
Standing up to be counted.

It was an amazing example of political accountability and courage.

Even the Free Press Legislature reporter, Bruce Owen and Larry Kusch, recognized that.
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/immigration-spat-heats-up-148224265.html

But not columnist Dan Lett, whose bias was running rampant.

In his "fair and balanced" opinion, it was the NDP that were the heroes of the day---for saving the Conservative MP's from the fury of the mob. (A mob they invited, sure, but Lett's not go there.)

"It is unlikely Winnipeg Tory MP Shelly Glover will ever thank provincial officials for what they did Thursday, although there is no doubt they did her a solid."

"What Glover didn't count on were about 300 to 400 immigration activists, invited to the legislature by provincial officials to show their support for the resolution and opposition to Ottawa's plan... as word spread there were federal Tory MPs in the building, ready for a scrap."

"Thankfully, some legislature staff moved the activists into committee rooms on the same floor, where they could watch the debate on closed-circuit television. NDP officials would not admit they were trying to avoid a confrontation, but the result was that when Glover went to address reporters, only a handful of activists was there to hear her. And that stopped what many reporters predicted would be a public stoning."
Why wouldn't Shelly Glover expect the public gallery to be stacked by NDP activists? The Rempel email had been reported the previous day on Global TV and in the Winnipeg Sun.

In fact, as reported, Manitoba MLA Myrna Driedger tweeted this to Jason Kenney, the federal immigration minister:

"The MB NDP plan to fill the gallery with immigrants tomorrow ( scooped up all the passes ) and intend to skewer Cdn gov't."

Many reporters predicted (or hoped for) a public stoning? Who?

Lett is big on insisting everyone give their names, except when it comes to covering up for, ahem, "professional" reporters.

"Where Kenney had been measured and defensible, Glover was relentless and unbridled in her partisan barbs." wrote Lett. Fair and balanced?

He failed to mention the presence of NDP Member of Parliament Pat Martin in the Legislature. And what Martin said, as noted by the Free Press political reporters. He called the Conservative MP's "a bunch of bullies and thugs" and "a gang of goons".

Nope, no unbridled partisan barbs there, eh, Dan.

Dan Lett often declares that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts, yet he seemed not to take his own advice.

Dan Lett, columnist

"The four MPs sat in the opposition loges in the Manitoba legislature during question period, a courtesy granted to visiting legislators."

Winnipeg Free Press Political Reporters

"They had to sit in the house because they could not get passes for the public gallery. "

Dan Lett, columnist

"What Glover didn't count on were about 300 to 400 immigration activists."

CBC

"Some of the 100 to 150 people who came to the Manitoba legislature on Thursday afternoon to protest changes to the provincial nominee program. (Katie Nicholson/CBC)"
http://nexuscanada.blogspot.com/2012/04/manitoba-politicians-spar-over.html

Lett asked the public to judge whether his bias was bleeding over into his columns by measuring how fair and balanced he was. Well, here's your answer.

****
There's a saying: Google is your friend.

We sat down with our friend and, like many people these days, we examined the FP's news story on the immigration battle in closer detail, starting with who was quoted in opposition. (The FP apparently didn't think it important to find any citizens who are in favour of the change.)

There was "Paz Bowman, who immigrated with her parents and 10 siblings to Manitoba from Chile in 1976."

Sure, she would be against changing the law to favour immigrants with highly-employable skills. 13 people from one family are unlikely to be high on any new list of immigrants. As for Paz Bowman, she's employed as an instructor at Red River College. An instructor of what? In 2007 she was an adult education teacher teaching Chilean women---in Chile.

And Alfred Koineh? That would be Alfred Koineh of Mount Carmel Clinic. A social worker. It looks like, before coming to Winnipeg, he was, a former National Chairman of the National Coalition for Anti-deportation Campaigns in the UK. Does that mean he was fighting to keep illegal immigrants in the U.K., one of whom was himself.

The things you learn on the Internet.

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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.

Yikes.

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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Sunday, April 08, 2012

An Easter Surprise: Winnipeg media bias revealed

For a brief, shining moment two years ago a cheap two-bit car thief was a hero in Winnipeg media circles.

His achievement? He was, declared the news media in the city, the victim of a police beating which had been CAUGHT ON TAPE.

The media mob was unanimous. There was no doubt. Hadn't the Crown attorney dropped a raft of charges against poor Cody Bousquet because of the savage beating? Hadn't the judge convicted the police in the court of public opinion by declaring in open court that he had seen the beating with his own eyes? There, there, you could see the video for yourself posted as a public service on the news websites.

Uh, oh. Along came Easter, 2012.

Instead of hefty servings of turkey and stuffing, the reporters, columnists, pundits and sundry found themselves eating crow, bitter crow, sour crow and more crow with Matzah.

A formal RCMP investigation that was universally expected to lead to criminal charges against the Winnipeg City police involved in the videotaped arrest of Bousquet exonerated them instead. No charges. No blame.

The RCMP reviewed the video, interviewed all concerned, and consulted with an out-of-province expert on use of force. Their report was sent to a prosecutor in Ontario to avoid any allegations of conflict of interest. The result, a conclusion that the city police acted properly under the circumstances.

The MSM was crestfallen. The Winnipeg Free Press wrote a story centered on the disappointment of Bousquet's defence attorney. "Video showed suspect on ground being struck" declared the subhead.

The Winnipeg Sun, possibly the leader of the media mob in 2010, simply regurgitated all the allegations against the police in their story about the exoneration. "A surveillance video obtained by the Winnipeg Sun showed police punching, kneeing and shocking Cody Bousquet, then 19, with a Taser following a high-speed chase in a stolen pickup truck." So there.

CBC, after repeating the falsehood "court saw surveillance video of Winnipeg police officers holding Bousquet down while others kicked, punched and kneed him" then concluded "(n)o reasons were given as to why the counsel did not recommend any charges."

Uh, isn't it obvious, geniuses? There was no crime, therefore no charges. Duh.

When the media pack was attacking the police, The Black Rod looked at the facts. This weekend we reviewed our story which ran two years ago. Appropriately, it was titled "Who do you believe? Them or your lying eyes?" We were shocked at the rabid anti-police ranting of the so-called "professional journalists." We had forgotten.

The pack journalism was so bad that we believe we should rerun our story on Bousquet for the new readers we've picked up since 2010. But first we want to introduce our story by republishing the response to the RCMP investigation by Winnipeg Police Association president Mike Sutherland. His comments were included in the Free Press's online story, but not in the print story Saturday. They deserve to be read by as many people as possible.

Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION April 5, 2012

"While [it's] unpleasant and does not reflect the apparent ease with which suspects are restrained on many TV police dramas, the fact is that in real life, unappealing force is sometimes needed to keep people safe and apprehend the dangerous," he said.

"We do not have months or years to author carefully composed soliloquies on the various legal virtues of specific crimes and the balancing of societal and individual needs or previous case precedents. We have a split second to react, and sometimes we don’t even have that long."

****************
The Black Rod -- Originally published Sunday, February 07, 2010
Who do you believe? Them or your lying eyes?

The pictures don't lie, wrote Winnipeg Sun editorialist Paul Rutherford.

No, for that we depend on "professional" reporters, Winnipeg Sun columnists and editorial writers.

The mainstream media has been all a-twitter over a surveillance video which shows the arrest of a drunk car thief. The description of what's on the video has grown wilder by the day, culminating in Tom Brodbeck's grotesque declaration that he sees an unrestrained flurry of kicks and punchs on a handcuffed prisoner.

"I've watched the video over and over again…" says Brodbeck. Try it with your eyes open next time.

Watch the video for yourself. The entire surveillance video is available on the Winnipeg Free Press website. The Sun has an abridged version.

Then find someone with dial-up Internet connection. That way the video plays in frame-by-frame slow motion. Watch it again.

Here's what you will see:

The complete video runs 3 minutes 26 seconds. The arrest takes less than 45 seconds. The police use of physical force occurs twice, six seconds the first time and less than four seconds the second time.

The video begins with a shot of an empty compound of a business on Notre Dame. Headlights flash across the lot. At the bottom right, car thief Cody Bousquet appears, on foot. He stops and looks to his right. A police car pulls up at the top right of the frame and the driver's door opens, but you can't see who gets out.

Bousquet stands listening to the unseen driver of the cruiser car. He's wearing a three-quarter length parka and holding something black in his left hand. He turns his back to the policeman and starts to kneel, still clutching the object in his hand.

The policeman outside the cruiser car rushes over to Bousquet and shoves him to the ground with his left hand; he's holding a gun in his right. Bousquet sprawls on his stomach, then turns his upper body to his left, facing the officer (Officer A). The other policeman in the car (Officer B) rushes over, drops behind Bousque on his knees, and tries to control him.

Two other policeman walk into frame and stand nearby, watching the arrest and taking no part. Suddenly a third policeman (Officer C) runs into frame from the right. He circles around Bousquet's head, crouches momentarily to look at something, then leaps in to grab…what . You can't see what because Bousquet's is blocked from the camera by Officer A's body.

Officer C, who we now know is Constable Ryan Law, then drops to his knees and struggles with Bousquet who won't give up whatever he's holding. Officer A stands and watches as Officers B and C try to control Bousquet. Ten seconds have passed.

Another policeman arrives, Officer D. He, too, kneels beside Bousquet. A is still at Bousquet's back, D is facing him, and C is to D's left over Bousquet's upper body.

Three other policemen are standing nearby, observing the struggle.

15 seconds in, you can see Bousquet pulling Officer C's coat. Otherwise all you see is the bodies of the three policemen over top of him.

Officer C throws an elbow strike, followed by three punches. Officer D lands three knees to Bousquet's body. Look carefully, as the second knee is launched you can see Officer B pull something from his belt, presumably the Taser.

There's a further pile-on and. A fourth policeman (Officer E) has been watching the scuffling quartet. He circles around to the top of the frame then crouches down, looking closely at Bousquet.

Officer C throws another 3 punches, and Officer B another two knees.

Bousquet is face down and his left knee bends up, perhaps indicating this is when he's shocked by the Taser. Bousquet is wearing a parka, making the use of a Taser problematic but Constable Law, in his written statement about the incident, said the officer with the Taser used it against Bousquet's right buttock, presumably under the parka.

Officer E lunges into the huddle to grab something. Bousquet lies limp, showing the effect of the Taser.

All the policemen except Officer D stand up. Officer D searches him. He tosses what appears to be a cell phone into the snow behind him. Constable Law who was bareheaded, PUTS ON A TOUQUE.

Is that what Bousquet had in his hand or was holding onto so strongly?

Another cruiser car pulls up as Officer D ministers to Bousquet. D lifts Bousquet to his feet. His hands are handcuffed behind his back. He is led to the top cruiser and the police at the scene drift off to their respective police cars.

CBC reported:
"Bousquet is quickly surrounded by police, some kneeing him while he is lying down and being handcuffed. Much of the video shows four officers pinning him down, while some punch and knee him further."

Absolutely false. CBC wants you to believe Bousquet was being pinned down by some police officers while others wantonly punched and kicked him. The video show exactly the opposite. The police struggled with him, used force as they were trained and in a restrained manner, and when they finally had him under control, handcuffed him. Up to eight policemen were around Bousquet in the 45 seconds it took to subdue the drunk and belligerent car thief, but never more than 3 were wrestling with him at any given moment.
Tom Brodbeck of the Winnipeg Sun wrote:

"Still, there appears to be no reason whatsoever for cops to start punching and kicking the suspect even if he was resisting arrest."

-Snip-

"Judging by this video, there appeared to be no reason whatsoever to administer the kind of beating cops did in this case.This was police rage, plain and simple, and it had nothing to do with good policing or law and order."

Absolutely false. What "kind of beating"? The arresting officers didn't launch themselves at Bousquet, punching and kicking at will. The police used a minimum amount of force to get the suspect under control and under arrest. There was no "beating." Had Bousquet stopped struggling with police in the first 15 seconds, there would have been no punches and no knee strikes. It was only after two-count 'em---two Taser jolts that Bousquet stopped resisting police.

The Winnipeg Free Press quoted Crown attorney Mick Makar on why he went soft on a car thief who tried to ram police in a cruiser car. Makar dropped charges of car theft and assault with a weapon and accepted a plea bargain to charges of assaulting a police officer and dangerous driving to ensure that Bousquet got the lowest sentence possible.

"Crown attorney Mick Makar said Bousquet would have been looking at a penitentiary sentence, were it not for the damning evidence of the security video. Makar appeared to blame the officers' actions on adrenaline.

"The whole incident is only a matter of minutes," Makar said. "So you can imagine everyone's hearts were racing at the time."

If anybody's heart was racing, it was Bousquet's. Here he is, an experienced car thief, having the time of his life trying to maim or kill police by ramming their cars, then driving like a maniac while endangering other drivers and pedestrians until he's finally cornered. What a rush.

Brodbeck decided to use his vast experience of sitting at a computer keyboard to give police advice on how to arrest a resisting criminal.

"Use-of-force experts tell us all the time cops are trained to use their intermediary weapons when necessary to force compliance on suspects. They're not supposed to wrestle dangerous suspects to the ground because that puts officers at undue risk of injury, even death in rare circumstances.

Instead, police are supposed to shout commands at the suspect, in this case ordering him to the ground face-down with hands behind his back.

If he doesn't comply, an intermediary weapon like a Taser should be deployed until he does comply. Once the suspect is safely on the ground with hands behind his back, cops can handcuff him and make the arrest."


He forgot to mention what those same use-of-force experts say about using a Taser on a criminal wearing a parka in Winnipeg. Otherwise, it's obvious the Winnipeg police went by the book in making the arrest.

There are three lessons to be learned from the Bousquet arrest.

One. It demonstrates how dangerous the streets are for police night after night. Car thieves like Bousquet think nothing of trying to maim or kill police by ramming their stolen vehicles into cruiser cars. While making an arrest, police have always to expect that the suspect is armed, at the very least with a screwdriver.

Two. The police can expect to be sold out by the Crown attorneys every time. Makar chose to drop charges that were totally unrelated to the video --- the theft of the truck and the use of the truck to try and hit a police car. There is no reason he can give for failing his duty to the public by refusing to prosecute a car thief to the fullest extent of the law.

Three. Justice is supposed to be blind, not judges. Judge Ray Wyant said he didn't see "any evidence of overt resistance." According to the press, he said there was no excuse for the degree of force seen on the video.

"There are some people who would look at that video and say 'What's the big deal, he got what he deserved?' No amount of excessive force would ever be condoned by this court, no matter what the circumstances."


Wyant has never had to physically arrest anyone in his entire life. He's the kind of lawyer who gets a hernia carrying his lawbooks up the stairs. What does he know about "excessive force"? Have years of watching TV cop shows given him the experience to judge the reality of police life on the streets of Winnipeg? Were two punches acceptable, but four excessive?

The police used as much force as was necessary to get control of Bousquet's hands. Once he stopped struggling, they released him and stepped away. There is no sign at all to anyone but Ray "Mister McGoo" Wyant that they were punching and kicking him indiscriminately.

Wyant said he didn't see "overt resistance." Why the semantics? He obviously saw "resistance." The video is totally consistent with the police account of a suspect who refused to give up his hands to be handcuffed.

Wyant obviously saw that Bousquet had something in his left hand when he went down. The police had every right to suspect that was a weapon of some sort which had to be neutralized quickly.

If Wyant failed to spot the object, he needs to apologize to the police immediately.

Two years ago Wyant sentenced police officer Derek Harvey-Zenk to house arrest on a charge of dangerous driving. At the time he stood up to those who demanded he send Zenk to prison. He told the court:

"They want their pound of flesh. They want to hear the clanking of the cell door.

But let me make it absolutely clear, Mr. Zenk, those factors are not something this court or any court can entertain in deciding a fit and appropriate sentence. To do so would corrupt the very foundations of our justice system and plunge our system into chaos. So it does not matter what we think happened, what we must do is only sentence or decide cases on the evidence before us.

If we were to substitute our opinions or the opinions of others for proof and evidence, we would surely undermine fundamentally our system of justice. For to replace our feelings or opinions for facts would mean that any citizen could be the subject of arbitrary justice, of decisions based, not on evidence and proof, but on innuendo and personal biases."

What happened to that Ray Wyant?

It seems he got the message. If he wants to advance his career, he had better start listening to the mob.

Hold this torch and pass the noose, Ray.


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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Manitoba Hydro whistleblower can say: "I told you so"

When it comes to Manitoba Hydro, the Public Utilities Board has set off more distress signals than the Titanic, with less response.

Hydro has been in the news all week after the PUB granted the utility a two percent rate hike effective April 1st. Hydro says it needs the money to forestall large losses as a result of the warm winter just past.

The mainstream media has parroted this excuse. Nobody has pointed out the strange coincidence that a rate hike denied Hydro just in January by the PUB was reinstated, with an extra 1 percent top up, exactly one day after the chairman of the oversight body retired and a new chairman, appointed by the NDP government, took his place.

If this means what it appears to mean, it's bad news all around for Manitoba ratepayers since the MSM seems unwilling or unable to report the facts about Hydro.

The Winnipeg Free Press is reporting on its front page today that Mayor Sam Katz bought season tickets to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with $2033.00 in taxpayers' money.

But the news that Manitoba Hydro spent $1.6 billion to build a new generating station that's exporting power to the United States at less than a third of what it costs to produce only
made the bottom of an editorial on an inside page of Saturday's paper.

And that was reported in The Black Rod two weeks ago.

http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2012/03/sorry-state-of-manitobas-opposition.html

The PUB issued a report in January when denying the full rate hike that Hydro requested at the time, a report that contained a multitude of reasons why Hydro was scrambling for extra money -- a warm winter wasn't one of them.

"The Board is unable to approve the higher rate increases requested by MH because the Utility’s business plan is incomplete, lacks required detail and has not been tested through what has been promised as a “Needs For And Alternatives To” (NFAAT) review by an independent tribunal that will have full access to the economic and financial assumptions which underpin MH’s business plan."

In fact, said the PUB, Manitoba Hydro will have collected about $253 million more in the past five years than it expected to get. (That, you would think, would leave it with a healthy cushion for warm winter years like 2012, without a hike in rates.)

"MH’s financial position since the 2008 GRA is projected by MH to have improved by approximately $253 million for the fiscal years 2007/08 up to and including 2011/12. A major contribution to this improved financial position has been Board-approved rate increases which have generated over $788 million in accumulated additional revenue.

Since 2004/05, over $950 million in additional revenue has been realized by MH from Board-approved domestic rate increases (this represents over one-third of MH’s retained earnings)."


And

"The Board no longer considers IFF09-1 (Integrated Financial Forecast) as providing a ‘valid’ picture of MH’s financial position. If MH continues with its preferred development plans, the Board concludes ratepayers will undoubtedly pay higher future domestic rates than indicated in IFF09-1 or IFF10-2."

Here's some of what left the PUB concerned about Hydro's books:

* The addition of the new Wuskwatim generating station added $150 million a year to Manitoba Hydro's annual costs in interest and carrying charges on its $1.6 billion cost

* Hydro was spending $1 million to $2 million A DAY on prep work for its multi-multi-billion dollar construction plans over the coming decade "without having had its capital plans reviewed through an NFAAT (Need for, And Alternatives To) proceeding, and without the US transmission lines required to transmit MH’s electricity exports south of the border having been constructed or even been committed to, and without MH having obtained the required regulatory approvals in Canada."

* When (and if) Hydro builds its next planned generating plant to fulfill a contract with American buyers in 2016, that will add $500 million a year to the utility's annual costs, even though it, too, will likely send subsidized power to U.S. customers.

* Based on the restricted information on contracts with American buyers and economic trends it appears we'll be losing at least 3 cents a kilowatt hour on the power we'll be selling to them from the next two generating stations Hydro intends to build.

All these losses will have to be made up by rate increases on Manitoba customers. Manitoba ratepayers already pay twice as much for their power as we'll be selling Wuskwatim power to Minnesotans.

"...it is apparent that the export prices will not recover 100% of the costs incurred by MH to export that electricity. Therefore, it would fall to Manitoba’s domestic ratepayers to subsidize the export sales commitments made by MH." declared the PUB.

"Even though MH forecasts domestic rate increases in the ‘decade of investment’ that are in excess of expected inflation, it appears the projected rate increases are considerably too low to support the required subsidization."

"A significant aspect of the scope of MH’s General Rate Application was the review of MH’s risks and risk management. The Board has long requested MH to provide an indepth and independent study of MH’s risks (see Order 32/09). The study was to be a thorough and quantified risk analysis that included probabilities of all identified operational and business risks. Unfortunately, and disappointingly, MH failed to provide a comprehensive quantified risk analysis. Instead, MH unilaterally changed the terms of reference to instruct an external consultant to prepare a report, and opted for a legal strategy to try and rebut the findings of a former risk consultant previously retained by MH but subsequently terminated. However, even without the expected comprehensive risk analysis, the Board was able to gain a better understanding of the Utility’s risk.".

You can see that Manitoba Hydro continues to thumb its nose at the Public Utilities Board, knowing as it does that it has the complete support of Premier Greg Selinger, who, wouldn't you know it, just appointed a compliant new chairman.

The frightening mismanagement of Manitoba Hydro was foreshadowed by the former Hydro consultant who made a formal complaint to the Ombudsman's office under the NDP's vaunted Whistleblower Act.

The PUB refers to her as New York Consultant. We've nicknamed her Miss Whistle.

And by either name,
she was prominent in the January PUB report when the former chairman was still in charge, not that you would know it by reading the Winnipeg Free Press.

Legislature reporter Bruce Owen dismissed NYC in a blog post he made on January 18.

Does the PUB matter?
By: Bruce Owen
Posted: 01/18/2012 3:18 PM | Comments: 16 (including replies)

snip.

Over the past two years that scrutiny has included at my count three separate, independent reviews of Hydro and elements of its development plan, each looking at whether Hydro has all its ducks in a row. There were four reviews if you include a New York consultant who now, for the most part, has been written off as not credible.

Uh, Bruce. Maybe you should have read the PUB report before embarassing yourself.

It turns out that Manitoba Hydro spent $4 Million trying to discredit Miss Whistle, and the only person they convinced was Bruce Owen.

Here's how the Manitoba Public Utilities Board summed up her influence:

"NYC Allegations
The process of achieving an independent review of the NYC’s allegations was very
convoluted. The Board looks at this exercise as being largely unsatisfactory. However, it is somewhat disconcerting to find Risk Advisory, ICF and KPMG flagging potential areas of improvement for MH that in many cases mirrored areas that the NYC was critical of, and where in some instances the NYC accused MH of mismanagement. KPMG confirmed (on cross examination)that the NYC had not missed identifying any of the major risk issues faced by MH."

The PUB hired a couple of academics to assess Miss Whistle's allegations against Manitoba Hydro, but by their own account the meetings went badly.

She had, by then, come to distrust dealings with anybody from Manitoba after the Ombudsman ignored her complaint for months, then tried to pawn it off to the Auditor who got caught in a conflict-of-interest (by The Black Rod), then tried to shuffle it off to the PUB, which doesn't offer the same confidentiality protections as under the Whistleblower Act, then met with two men with little expertise in her field who were too interested in her company's proprietary information for her comfort.


The pair, identified by the Public Utilities Board as KM (Dr.Atif Kubursi and Dr. Lonnie Magee) said they were unable to confirm her specific allegations of mismanagement but:


" With respect to general issues of risk identified by NYC, areas for improvement were identified in detail in the KM report and elaborated on by KM in testimony.
Included in recommendations are subject areas of model governance, model
utility and relevance, model output and predicted accuracy, water flow analysis,
drought risk, and risk governance and management in the MH middle office."

Miss Whistle and the PUB have together raised a barrage of red flags over Manitoba Hydro's management and the risk to ratepayers.

The provincial government seems determined to overlook facts in favour of political interference based on ideology.

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Monday, April 02, 2012

Gordon Sinclair's parable backfires. Bartley Kives learns a lesson.

Well, what do you know? The Mayans were right.

It is the end of the world---if you're a bleeding heart liberal.

We've gotten used to the weekly screech from Frances "Red" Russell declaiming the end of civilization at the hands of Stephen Harper, but on Saturday past her squishy colleague Gordon Sinclair Jr. (still suffering daddy issues) joined her for a chorus of Auld Lang Syne.

It appears to be "the beginning of the end of the truly caring Canada," he wept. "Say goodbye", he declared, to the Canada "personified by caring..."

The cause of this gloom? The federal budget. "We will be expected to take more personal responsibility," wailed Sinclair.

Huh? Like that's a bad thing?

It is in Sinclair's world. To prove it, he spun a story, "a parable, of sorts."

His story begins with a woman "who had to compose herself before she sat down to compose her letter to me". (Ha ha. Note the clever play on the meanings of the word "compose" to show he's witty as well as wise.)

Back to the story. It was 8 a.m. and she was on her way to work. In a bus shelter on Main Street she saw two men stretched out on a bench, "bedded down." She tried not to disturb them, but a Winnipeg Transit supervisor arrived and rousted them. She struck up a conversation with the younger man, gave him her coffee, and, after hearing his sad story, she gave him $20---"all she had with her".

By then, the older man had returned "(b)ut so had the transit supervisor", who told the men to get moving.

The woman got on her bus and wondered of the young man walking down Main "will he be cold again tonight?"

Talk about unintended consequences. If Sinclair thought his "parable" would rouse the masses against the government, he's showing his bleeding-heart colours. It does exactly the opposite.

Here's a woman going to work. We apologize to the liberals in the audience for using a four-letter word, but its necessary to the tale.

She's headed to work (sorry, again) just like most people on the go at 8 o'clock in the morning. She comes across two bums sleeping---just like most bums--- at 8 o'clock in the morning.

And she tried not to disturb---them? Oh, gosh, don't wake the sleeping bums. They've had a hard night of doing nothing.

And they've made themselves at home in a transit shelter which was built with money from taxpayers for the express purpose of giving working people a place out of the cold, out of the elements, with somewhere to sit to make their daily commute a little bit better. Instead, the bums are hogging the bench while they take a snooze before starting another hard day of doing nothing.

The woman obviously earns enough to be comfortable. She buys her morning coffee; minimum wage earners make their own and drink it before leaving home. And she's got plenty of cash to dole out to strangers. Most people would hand over a dollar or two. She doles out a twenty.

Sinclair forgets the part where social agencies have annual campaigns to discourage people from giving cash to the homeless because it almost invariably goes on booze or drugs. But enabling alcoholics and druggies is really showing caring, right? So the woman didn't have to worry. Cheap sherry provides a warm buzz.

And note how the villain in the story is the transit supervisor. Let's see. How early do you think he starts work? How early does he have to get out of bed in order to get to work? Do you think he would rather be happy at home sleeping at 8 o'clock instead of risking his safety by confronting bums? And who wouldn't like it if someone came to their home and gave them a free twenty bucks every morning.

In this story, the people who demonstrate personal responsibility are the bad guys. They are the people who have jobs, who work hard for what they've got, who get up early and do the dirty work others don't want to do, who pay their taxes and who provide civic amenities like transit service and shelter for travellers. The users and abusers are the good guys, for whom we're supposed to feel sorry.

And so far, we've overlooked the kicker in the story.

You see, the woman, while chatting with the younger of the homeless men, asked if he had any family.

"Actually, that's my dad I'm with," he replied.

Awwwww. Father and son, homeless and sharing a bus shack. Ain't that touching?

Actually, it's as clear an example of a failure of personal responsibility as you can get.

Two generations of derelict. A father teaching his kid the ropes of how to be homeless. That's just sad. Maybe if the father had any sense of personal responsibility he would take care of himself, and certainly discourage his son from following in his footsteps.

Instead, Sinclair says instilling personal responsibility in the next generation is evil. Apparently, asking people to plan for their future, even out into retirement, is a right-wing plot to make a "caring Canada a distant memory."

We blame the Mayans.

**************
The glory of giving was also the topic of a column Sunday by Gordon Sinclair's colleague Bartley Kives, only in his case it was on a bigger scale, as in millionaires giving to the little people. His piece was a grovelling apologia to the rich and powerful for a column he wrote last week.

Kives, it seems, got a painful lesson from on high in making even the slightest criticism of Gail Asper and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press, the propaganda arm of the museum.

A week ago Kives wrote a column about how the public will react (in his view) to the pet projects of the rich and powerful in the city compared with what the movers and shakers expected.

Included was this about the Aspers:

4. FOR ASPERS, NO WALK IN THE PARK
THE PLAYER: The Asper Foundation

PUBLIC-RELATIONS INITIATIVE: On Friday, David and Gail Asper announced their family's charitable foundation has pledged $2 million toward the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, with half the cash going toward the construction of a new plant conservatory and the other half adding to a pool of funds devoted to other aspects of the park's $200-million makeover. The new conservatory will include a Babs Asper Memorial Garden to commemorate the family matriarch, who died in 2011.

REALITY CHECK: An Asper-family gift to the conservancy was in the works well before Babs Asper passed away. Cynics who criticize the philanthropic family due to David's role in the Winnipeg Football Club's messy stadium saga and Gail's efforts to raise funds for the contentious Canadian Museum for Human Rights will have a tough time deriding this gift.

NET PR EFFECT: Positive but not lastingly so, as Asper-haters have ignored the family's charitable works before. The family name has been dragged down by the national museum's remarkable inability to explain its mission and abject failure to be transparent about its financial woes.

Dum de dum dum. Talk about a career-limiting mistake.

One DOES NOT link the Aspers to failure in the Winnipeg Free Press. A week later, Kives had obviously received the memo---in triplicate.

The Aspers are philanthropists. Philanthropists are gods who walk among men. They can do no wrong. Philantropists "deserve our collective admiration for their efforts," he wrote.

"My intention was to show an Asper family gift of $2 million to the Assiniboine Park Conservancy was not a PR move at all. But I clearly didn't make my point very well."

Kives claimed he was driven to explain his true love for the rich because of "hateful rants against the Asper family" which "sometimes bordered on anti-Semitism".

Note to readers: that's Free Press code for any comments that the Aspers object to.

"So although no one has asked for an apology, I owe one to David, Gail and Leonard Asper."

We haven't seen that much craven grovelling since Lindor Reynolds wrote a column lamenting the closing after 58 years of a family-run fabric store, then reported the wrong name of the store throughout the column.


So we suspect there's more to Kives' epiphany about the sainthood of the rich. We're betting someone took him to the woodshed and spelled it out for him in big letters. FP co-owner Bob Silver likes moving in the same circles as the rich. He doesn't want to be embarrassed by some punkass reporter. The newspaper business is in dire straights and the FP needs the rich onside. Screw the poor and downtrodden. That's so yesterday.

That scenario makes sense at least.

But the public isn't rallying to Kives' I-heart-the-Asper campaign. The comments were priceless and we're reprinting a smattering of the best because, well, we can't say it any better ourselves. (misspellings in the original)

Joe Schlabudnick
The reason you may have had a full inbox is likely a result of David's own definition of philanthropy.
If he defines philanthropy as building a stadium (ahemm, digging a hole) and getting all your investment back after realizing you can't finish the thing, you've done nothing philanthropical. What he dad was start a project with NO public request for proposals and dictated to the rest of us what we'll be paying for, including his portion of the costs.
Don't even get me started on Gails elephant. THose are the reasons people are willing to run the Asper's out of town, not some deep rooted anti semitism.

libertarian2
You don't need to stand up for the Aspers. They are doing quite well spending the taxpayer's money on their pet projects and monuments

noguff
good article, but needs some straightening out. As a taxpayer I didn't vote to spend millions of dollars on either Gail or David's projects. A lot of the negativity towards these to projects and by proxy towards the Aspers is around the political power they wielded to get these done on my back. Let's recall no family used leverage (finacial and political) more than they did to build CanWest and it was ultimately their undoing.

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Sunday, April 01, 2012

The murder of Beverley Rowbotham ... Suspects, Persons of Interests, Coincidence.

Talk about a rush to judgement ...

In a case with no witnesses, no motive, no murder weapon and, if what was presented in court is any guide, NO EVIDENCE AT ALL, the RCMP considered the murder of Beverley Rowbotham solved within 3 weeks.

Their conclusion: the husband done it because we can't find anyone else to pin it on and we got other stuff to do.

(See Part One -
There must be a public inquiry into the bungled trial of Mark Stobbe http://blackrod.blogspot.ca/2012/03/there-must-be-public-inquiry-into.html )

Now we'll be the first to say that police always know more than they tell the public, and that its a losing bet to armchair quarterback a police investigation on the basis of years of CSI, Criminal Minds and Law-and-Order (all versions). But when they try to send a man to prison for the rest of his life based on a case so thin that it's invisible to the naked eye, the onus reverses and the two teams of RCMP investigators involved in the case better start talking about how and why they made the recommendation to prosecute.

Beverley Rowbotham was killed in her back yard in the early evening of October 24, 2000. It was an especially vicious attack. Trial testimony was that she had been hit 16 times with, likely, a hatchet, which is a small hand axe.

The jury was told one blow came after she had been placed in the back of her car in the garage. Yes, years of CSI tell us that conclusion would be the result of blood spatter in the vehicle. The medical examiner said 14 blows were delivered as Rowbotham was on the ground. Two axe cuts were in her left shoulder, and two fingers were severed, probably as she flung her hand behind her head to block the axe.

One axe blow to the head is still unaccounted for in this reconstruction. Obviously, that's the one that felled her.

A photo of her skull shows deep cuts to the bottom of her skull just above the neck. Skull fragments were found scattered in the back yard. Interestingly, there appeared to be no blows to the top of her head. That's surprising, since that's the biggest target for someone hitting a victim in the head with an axe.

Beverley Rowbotham was dragged or carried to the garage and put in the back seat. Police were mystified at the lack of blood at the scene, both outside in the yard and inside the garage. One officer said the amount of blood in the garage was what you might expect from a nose bleed, not someone chopped in the head 15 times with an axe.

A photo of the interior of the garage is deceptive. Its full of police evidence markers. While the markers suggest a lot of blood, each one only marks a drop. But Rowbotham's body was leaking blood heavily, soaking the back seat and dripping out of the bottom of the car after it was abandoned.

RCMP originally released a false story, saying Rowbotham's wedding ring and shoes were missing. The ring was gone, but the shoes were actually in the car, placed beside the body.

Somebody at the RCMP knew enough about criminal profiling, or had watched enough TV, to conclude that the attack was typical of an offender filled with rage and hatred. Its a sad commentary on modern society, and police thinking, that that invariably means the husband.

The only problem with pinning the crime on Mark Stobbe was that there wasn't one iota of evidence of discord between him and his wife. No witnesses to loud arguments, no whispered laments to her sisters, no hidden notes saying "in the event of my death, investigate my husband." That didn't prevent the Crown attorney from declaring the crime was a crime of passion, an attack by a hate-filled husband who lost it because his wife missed Saskatchewan, where they lived before he got a job with the Manitoba government.

It sounds ridiculous now and it was just as hollow in the three weeks the RCMP were making their case against Stobbe.

The RCMP may have been certain Stobbe was the killer, but nobody else who saw the evidence they collected was. Alberta prosecutors who reviewed the file were clear: you don't have a case.

Instead of reassessing the investigation, the RCMP kept trying to reframe it to nail Stobbe.

And it doing so, did they overlook other, equally viable suspects?

The handyman.

He had the means, i.e. a hatchet. The weapon used to kill Beverley Rowbotham was never found. Early in the trial, the Crown called the handyman hired by Mark Stobbe to fix things around the house, to say there had been a hatchet on the premises. In fact, he testified, he had sharpened the hatchet himself.

Stobbe eventually parted ways with the handyman because he was unsatisfied with his work and it was costing a lot of money. But Robotham's sister testified that Bev had mentioned that the handyman creeped her out. She also said that of the couple, it was Bev who had a temper and who was often short with people, not her husband Mark.

Did she have a run-in with the handyman? As we said before, we have to believe the RCMP checked his alibi for the night of the murder up, down and sideways, and he was eliminated as a suspect.

The neighbour.

Motive, anyone? A neighbour of the Stobbe's pops up as a person of interest because of his interesting relations with residents in the area. It appears the man was trying to buy up various parcels of land that had been one large farm before it was sold off in pieces. He intended on building a home for his family once he got the property he wanted.

But past residents of the St. Andrews area have unnerving memories of their neighbour. He was aggressive, threatening, scary, and fiercely single-minded when it came to getting the land he wanted, we were told. He threatened the lives of one man's wife and daughter. He would sneak up on people and scare them out of their wits. He had his eye on the Stobbe residence and may have felt snookered out of it. Stobbe had been looking to buy a house in Winnipeg, but when the deal fell through he took his second choice, the house in St. Andrews.

That neighbour eventually succeeded in collecting all the land he wanted and building a new house for his family. He's since died.

The cyclist

This is as odd as it gets.

The trial was told motorists saw a heavy-set man on a bicycle on the highway the night Beverley Rowbotham was killed, and RCMP believed that man was the killer who dumped the body in the car in a service station parking lot, then used the bicycle to make his getaway.

Four years after the murder, a man came to talk to police to say he was riding a bicycle the night Beverley Rowbotham was killed and his attention was drawn to a car in the service station parking lot where her body was found. In other words, he's the only person ever to put himself in the actual vicinity of the murdered woman's body.

We know about his because HE WAS A WITNESS AGAINST MARK STOBBE at the trial. Not only a witness, but the only witness in the case to link Stobbe directly to the murder---if only for a minute or two.

The bicyclist said he had left his job in Selkirk where he worked the swing shift, and was bicycling home shortly after 11 p.m. when he noticed a car with its lights on parked behind the service station in Selkirk. He glanced at the driver, who was "slumped" behind the wheel.

"That's him," he said, pointing to Mark Stobbe in the courtroom in the trial's most stunning moment.

Only, under cross-examination, he retracted his identification, saying that the person he saw was a big man, like Mark Stobbe, but not Mark Stobbe. The judge was livid. With the jury out of the courtroom he lit into Crown attorney Wendy Dawson, of British Columbia, for stage managing such a cheap show. She protested that she didn't know the witness would point the finger at Stobbe, and that she expected him to say he couldn't identify the man behind the wheel. The judge recalled the jury and spelled out how unreliable the witness was and how unsafe it was to depend on eyewitness evidence when it comes so late after the event.

The cyclist, perhaps inadvertently, made himself a person of interest. The police were looking for a man on a bicycle on night Bev Rowbotham was killed and there he was, admitting he was on a bicycle the night Bev Rowbotham was killed. Even more, he put himself near the body. We have to assume the RCMP did a thorough investigation of the new witness, including accounting for every minute of his presence at his job in Selkirk.

We know, though, they did not take a DNA sample from him.

And what to make of the evidence of a couple that drove home to Selkirk after a trip to Los Vegas. They lived only 5 doors down from the service station. Like everyone, they knew at a glance what was new in their immediate neighbourhood and what wasn't.

The next morning, RCMP were going door-to-door questioning residents as to whether they saw anything the night before, and they knocked at the couples' door. Both of them told the police they were passing the service station AT ABOUT 1 O'CLOCK and DID NOT see a car in the parking lot. Did not see a car two hours after the cyclist said he did. RCMP never took a formal statement from the couple, and the husband died shortly before Mark Stobbe was arrested.

The cyclist didn't go to police with what he saw until four years later---October, 2004. What twigged his civic duty? We're betting it was news coverage of a memorial service for Beverley Rowbotham on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2004.

You can still see a photo of Mark Stobbe at the event. Note that it looks as if he weighed as much then, 8 years ago, as he does now.

The RCMP investigator

Like reporters, police look for the unusual. Something out of the ordinary. Something that doesn't fit. Because that's often where the turning point in an investigation comes.

In this case, the unusual was the suicide of the lead investigator.

Only 45, tasked with a career-making murder investigation, he killed himself one year to the month of Rowbotham's murder. She was killed Oct. 24, 2000. He took his own life Oct. 13, 2001. Just a coincidence?

His reason for suicide may have been entirely personal. But in the wake of the shocking case of Canadian Air Force Colonel Russell Williams, nobody is beyond suspicion. Williams was an honoured pilot who led a double life, committing a string of break-ins and rapes before eventually killing two women before being caught.

Unknown Male

DNA belonging to a male who was not Mark Stobbe was found on the inside of the handle of Beverley Rowbotham's purse.

A footprint from a shoe that wasn't Mark Stobbe's was found on Beverley Rowbotham's hat in the garage.

Two buttons from an unknown garment were discovered in the debris field in the back yard among the blood spatter and bone chips.

Ya think that may add up to an unknown male who attacked and killed Bev Rowbotham?

If it does, he's got a 12 year head start on police.

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