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, July 30, 2012

Animal Farm, Conservatives-style. All ethnic groups are equal, but some are more equal


Two months ago the Stephen Harper government announced they were shutting down the Experimental Lakes Area, a one-of-a-kind science research project, run by Winnipeg scientists.

They said it was to save $2 million a year, a half-a-gazillionth of the federal budget.

The ELA consists of 58 lakes near Kenora. For 44 years scientists were able to use the closed ecosystems of the lakes to do groundbreaking research on acid rain, toxic metals, the effect of phosphates on freshwater lakes, what spawns algae blooms that kill lakes, and climate change. One story on the closure declared "the ELA was to water ecology what the supercollider is to physics."

As a result of the defunding of the world-reknowned project, 40 biologists, chemists and other scientists from Winnipeg will lose their jobs. Scientists from around the world have decried the Harper government's action, giving Canada a bad name in science circles everywhere.

But the government refused to relent. Too bad, so sad, said the government. We need to balance the budget. Tough decisions have to be made. It's the principle of the thing, you understand.

Two months later, the same government announced it is shovelling another $35 million into the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

That's enough money to fund the ELA for 17 years with a million left over.

No mention of the deficit. No talk about hard decisions. Just, 'here's some free money, enjoy'.

The moment the federal government flip-flopped on funding the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, it demonstrated that it makes decisions based on politics, not principle.

They sent Manitoba's senior cabinet minister, Vic Toews, to, ahem, "explain" that the $35 million was not "new" money.

"It's an advance," Toews said with the sincerity of a snakeoil salesman. And it wouldn't cost taxpayers a cent, he pledged, demonstrating that Conservatives had mastered the art of doubletalk as well as Liberals.

He was lying. Toews may have thought he was ever so clever, but the public hasn't been fooled.

Toews was claiming that the government was taking $35 million that it would otherwise be spending on operating funds, if the museum had opened on schedule, and giving it to the CMHR now to cover the runaway costs of construction.

The federal government is in the same boat as the CMHR---strapped for money. It's running on a deficit of billions of dollars. In other words, it has to borrow the money it gives the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

 And money isn't free. It must be repaid with interest.

So there's a cost to the taxpayers for the "advance" that the federal government allegedly intends to make to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

At the very, very least an advance of $35 million costs the taxpayers more than $500,000 a year (at the current rate of a Government of Canada five-year bond) in interest. So much for Toews' pledge that it wouldn't cost a dime.

Then, the CMHR has no god-given right to receive $21.5 million a year in operating funds from the federal government.

That's the amount they claimed they needed to run the museum once it was open. That's the maximum the government agreed to pay per year. If the museum needs less, it can't simply collect the full $21.5 million and use the excess money on whatever it wants. That screams of kickbacks and corruption. What's not spent returns to the public purse.

They've already tried that version of three-card monte. Last December, at their first and only public meeting so far, they revealed they had, without telling anyone, shifted $7 million from maintenance to construction. At the time we asked if that was even legal. We know it's unethical.

The government thinks it can use the same trick to funnel $35 million into the failing museum project. Someone should file a complaint with the auditor general asking whether the government can simply shift money allocated by Parliament on a whim to whatever pet project they want.

But more to the point, $35 million is well over the annual $21.5 million the government has agreed to pay to run the museum. How can Vic Toews take $35 million out of $21.5 million? Will the money be paid today and deducted from the annual payments due next year, and the year after that, and so on? Is the CMHR to get zero next year? Or will operating funds be cut by increments until the "advance" is covered?

How's that going to work, given that the CMHR declared in its last annual report that $21.5 million was nowhere near enough to run the place once it was open to the public. If $21.5 million is not enough, how can less be enough?

There's only one way--- Toews and his government will top up the annual maintenance payments to make up for the "advance."

The federal government is only making up half of what the CMHR needs to finish construction. The province is offering to guarantee a $35 million loan to cover the other half.

Funny. The CMHR brags that its donors include all the major banks and trust companies and credit unions in the country. So far, not one of them has offered a bridge loan. You might think that's because financial institutions that are accountable to their shareholders actually weigh the credit risk of their borrowers.

We're betting the loan will come from another source--- the Manitoba Development Corporation. That's a relatively unknown government slush fund that hands out money to whatever the provincial government wants funded. It's what Gary Doer used to fund a secret $11 million loan to the City of Winnipeg which the City then handed the CMHR under the pretense that it was Winnipeg's contribution to museum.

(The existence of the loan has ONLY been reported in The Black Rod. That's the case even though the loan appears to be illegal. The law requires all loans from the MDC to carry the going rate of interest, but the loan to the City was "interest-free". But don't expect the "professional journalists" in Winnipeg to follow this up.)

Note, too, that with the provincial government ponying up another $35 million, the province's contribution has more than tripled from the $20 million initially announced. And that's not counting the $11 million loaned to the city to create the illusion that the city was making its own contribution.

What's being overlooked in the news stories about the $70 million in new funding for the CMHR is the timing of the announcement.

The museum will release its next annual report any day now. The barrels of new cash are intended to preempt the bad news in that report.

We don't have to wait for the annual report. We can tell you today what's in it.

* the museum is flat broke (just as we've been reporting for the past year)
* the prospects of raising the money needed to finish the building are zero
* private fundraising has been an enormous flop
* a million dollars in IOU's has gone unpaid
* the CMHR is raising so little money that fundraising is literally going backwards

At the beginning of the year, the project was $61 million short of what was needed to finish construction. The new funding is for $70 million, which means that costs have gone up another $9 million.

That may include the $6.5 million for a temporary gallery and theatre that had been cut from the plans to keep the last announced cost overrun ($41 million) closer to $40 million than $50 million. It looks like they just put the temporary gallery and theatre back in without admitting the higher cost. Either that or the cost just crept higher and these elements will still be missing when the museum allegedly opens in 2014. Nevertheless, the total cost is now near the $360 million mark.

The Friends of the CMHR issued a statement following the announcement of the government funding increase, in which they claimed to have raised another $3 million.

Given that pledges to the museum are usually paid over a number of years, fundraising is actually going backward, with the museum losing $1 million in uncollected IOU's this year, while getting less than that in annual pledges.

No wonder chief fundraiser Dav Cvitkovic skipped town after less than a year working for the Friends of the CMHR. Maybe she didn't want to sign her name to some funny business. Only a full forensic audit will tell.

Note that last year the Friends claimed they raised $5 million, and the year before that, $10 million.

The timeframe is as interesting as the trend.

Fundraising for the CMHR has collapsed in the 18 months since Gail Asper launched a smear campaign against Canada's ethnic groups-
--Ukrainians, Poles, Germans, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Armenians, just about everyone---who don't accept that a national museum should highlight the Nazi persecution of Europe's Jewish community over all other genocides in the history of the world.

The Harper government has decided that Canada's ethnic groups don't deliver the votes that the country's Jewish community can. Thirty-five million dollars for a holocaust museum in Winnipeg could be enough to carve the Jewish vote out of its traditional support for the Liberal camp and into the Conservative column for the forseeable future.

And if Vic Toews has to bite his tongue while Gail Asper throws around vile and unwarranted accusations of anti-Semitism, then so be it. That's the price of politics the Harper government is willing to pay.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Black Rod Online Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women

The tragic death of Cherie Lynn Richard happened just as we were finishing a report on the latest twist in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights fiasco.

We set our work aside temporarily to concentrate on the murder on Furby Street when we noticed that everyone seemed to be ignoring, or avoiding, the obvious --- Cherie Lynn Richard had become the latest on the mythological list of Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women.

The mainstream media, which trumpets every demand for a public inquiry into these "Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women", had missed the glaring opportunity to focus on the latest and most accessible case to see what lessons can be learned.

So we've stepped into the void. We launched The Black Rod Online Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women.

Case No. One----Cherie Lynn Richard. Age 20. Murdered July 22, 2012, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Normally, the story starts with a short synopsis of the event and expands from there. But in an inquiry of this kind you don't know what's important and what's not, so everything needs to be examined.

Lets start with the newspaper photo of Cherie.

It's a picture of a cute, smiling girl with a short, Audrey Hepburn pixie haircut. She doesn't look 20. She looks in her mid-teens.

Is this how she looked the morning she was killed? We're guessing not. Is this a school picture? Why no photo of her as an adult? Is it because there are no pictures of Cherie Richard or because there's an attempt to sanitize her reputation by portraying the 20-year-old woman as still a child.

The biggest question so far is why was she on Furby Street at 5 in the morning? She and her older sister were outside an apartment block near Sargent Avenue. That we know, but why?

It's barely getting light at 5 a.m. The sun isn't over the horizon yet so it's still dark but not dark as night and not light as day. Were they finishing their Saturday night out and headed home for brekkie? Not from what the sister says.

Her sister told the Winnipeg Free Press:
"We would always go out at 5, 6 in the morning. Never got scared before. Never got problems. It felt safe."

Reporter Katherine Dow failed to ask why the sisters went out that early.

There are many legitimate reasons for being out and about at sunrise. Athletes often train early in the day before going to their day jobs. Was she an athlete? Was she delivering newspapers with her sister? A route of 100 papers would go quickly if she took 50 and her sister 50. Did she simply like the morning air, the silence at dawn?

Why she was where she was is a vital part of the story and here we are, days later, with no answer.

The story from here on gets only murkier.

Cherie was with her older sister Shaylene, or Shaii, as she's called by friends and family. Her story has been reported in various forms and bits of it confirmed by other witnesses.

The Winnipeg Free Press:
A witness who identified himself only as Joseph said he was walking down the street at about 5 a.m. when he saw two women and three men standing on the street.
The witness said he later heard a scream and, when he returned to the area, saw paramedics administering CPR to one of the women he had seen earlier that morning.

Winnipeg Police:
The investigation revealed that the deceased and another female were in the area of the 500 block of Furby Street when they were approached by one male and two females. A verbal altercation took place, at which time the deceased was stabbed.

Winnipeg Free Press:
Shaylene Richard said she and Cherie were standing with their bikes on Furby Street at around 5 a.m. Sunday when a man ran out of an apartment building and stabbed Cherie in the stomach.
"I had started riding my bike away when I heard her yell. She said, 'I got stabbed, I got stabbed,' and I ran back and held her," she said.

CBC News
She told CBC News that she and Cherie were biking in the area when they stopped outside an apartment building.
That's when she got into an argument with two females and a male about money.
Richard said the male then ran up to her sister, who was minding her own business, and stabbed her. "I was arguing with two girls and that one guy and I told my sister to go drive up ahead and that guy ran up to my sister and stabbed her," Richard said.

CBC News
A neighbour witnessed the incident and told CBC News that the victim and her sister were on their bikes when a man ran from a nearby apartment building and stabbed one of them in the stomach. The witness... said the incident appeared to be a dispute over money.

Did the Richard sisters stop and talk with three men (Joseph) about 5 a.m. and, almost half an hour later, get into an argument with two girls and one guy (CBC News)? Or did witness Joseph mistake the two girls for men?

That's a pretty busy street if six to 9 people meet, pass, and congregate on the same stretch at five in the morning.

Was Cherie stabbed just after Shaii told her to "drive up ahead"? Or after Shaii "had started riding (her) bike away"?

Was the killer a party to the argument? Did he leave the group and enter the apartment block only to come dashing out to stab Cherie? Why did he leave? Why did he return? Why did he stab Cherie, who by her sister's account, wasn't arguing with anybody?

But above all, what the hell was Shaii arguing with the girls about? Apparently the reporters for the FP and the CBC didn't think that was important. Everybody agrees it was about money, but what about money?

Were the girls trying to rob Cherie and Shaii? Did they owe Shaii money? Did Shaii owe them money? Did somebody sell somebody something and there was a dispute about payment? Were they debating over who had the most money and how they got it? Who started the argument?

What do we know about Cherie Richard the person?

The Winnipeg Free Press reported Tuesday:
Relatives described her as a shy, caring tomboy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“She wasn’t involved in drugs or gangs or nothing,” said her cousin, Donna Richard. “She was just a good girl. She had such a big heart and would do whatever for people, anything really.”


There's nothing to contradict that image. She was, by the accounts of friends and family, a "good" girl.

She lived with her sister in the neighbourhood where she was killed. They moved to the
West End two years ago when Cherie turned 18, said Shaii.

Cherie's online references say she graduated from St.Norbert Collegiate, class of 2010. Her sister says she "her sister was a tomboy who was working toward graduating from high school at St. Norbert Collegiate." Twenty years old without even a high school diploma is not a good thing.

"Shaylene Richard said she and her sister had been in and out of group homes for many years." That's not surprising. There were nine children in the family, a guarantee of a life of poverty. Mom (aka metis-mama09) lists herself as single on internet social sites.

One of Cherie's apparent foster parents posted this tribute in the FP comments:

Livedowntownandluvit
7:51 AM on 7/23/2012
please be sensitive about this....i raised this girl in my house for three years. she was an amazing person and was not a drug dealer. this was a case of wrong place at the wrong time. she liked to travel around the city when it was quiet, lived and loved with all her heart, and was an amazing person. i'm going to miss her smile, her laugh, and her love for everyone around her. RIP.


Wrong place at the wrong time? If she was, she wasn't alone. What do we know about her sister who was right there with her?

Probably more than she wants us to know.

A vicious personal attack on Shaii Richard appeared last year on a website referring to her "hoodrat" friends, her parenting skills, the father of her children ("in jail once again") and her love of socializing ("she claims to be a “playa”).

We're not going to reprint the hit piece, but it serves as an important factor in the inquiry. Anyone connected to a missing or murdered woman instantly comes under the scrutiny of police and/or the news media, no matter how clean his or her life. Does anyone want that? It's no wonder, then, that potential witnesses avoid investigators and important clues are never relayed to police.

And the internet spat between Shaii Richard and her detractors may offer a glimmer of what was behind the confrontation on Furby last Sunday.

Written in twisted-English gang-talk, there is nevertheless a refreshing absence of threats of physical violence, despite a surprising reference to behaviour that could attract retaliation. It appears to be a back-and-forth exchange of insults between Shaii and girls who dislike her. Foreshadowing?
A sample:

shaii says:
yeeah f*ck cuz im a fckn awsome mother! ask bout me! me friends kno dis 2!!… keep hatin atleast i have my own fck*kn place unlike u bitches jst hatin n talkkn shit cuz ur homesless r still live wit ur fc*n parents!.. haters hate harder!!! u just makin me famous..! & all sudden im ugly?? LMAO!.. dummie it up!! guarnteed im betta lookin den u!! y ur not leavin ur name!!.. & my kids are lucky 2 have a mom like me… i take care of dem u dnt see dem lookin all rough n shit LMAO!… yaah dats wut i thaught!!.. & ima hoe? plz i was commited 2 my bbzdad 4 2 years!.. he knows it 2!.. & bout me fckn arnd wen he was locked up..! we werent even 2geather!!.. & unlike all u hatin bitches atleast my bbz dad helps me wit his kids!! look at all u retards.. ur kids r fatherless!!! why?? cuz dey regret havin kids wit u… r u dnt kno who ur bbzdad is!!…

Believe it or not, there's more positive information than negative, here.

Including posted support from a commenter who identifies herself as Shaii's sister, we learn than she is/was going to school to complete her Grade 12, she has a fixed address, she may not live with the father of her two children and he may have a criminal record, but he's helping support them, and she was a responsible teen mother who managed to keep her children out of CFS care and raise them with love.

It could be worse.

Wrong place, wrong time. Its starting to look like Cherie Richard was in the middle of a beef involving her older sister and two girls and it cost her her life.

What about the killer?

Its been longer than 48 hours since the fatal stabbing and you know the rule of thumb about that. The title sequence for the show The First 48 lays it out: "For homicide detectives, the clock starts ticking the moment they are called. Their chance of solving a murder is cut in half if they don't get a lead within the first 48 hours."

Do the police know who killed Cherie Richard. Two days have passed and they haven't even released a description of their suspect. They have a perfect eyewitness who was only feet from the killer; they should know the height, build, race, hairstyle, clothing and direction of flight at least. They should likely have fingerprints from the door to the apartment building.

Police aren't saying anything about the investigation. We used to assume that police always knew more than they were telling. But that was before the spree killer shot two people dead and nearly killed a third in the North End in 2010 (still unsolved) and one or more people sprayed bullets into a wedding hall on Main Street in 2009, killing one guest and wounding others (still unsolved.) Now you think they're not saying anything because they don't know anything.

Communication with the public still remains a big problem with the Winnipeg Police Service.

There's one thing we do know about the killer. He's not afraid of the law. He's willing to kill someone to settle a verbal argument, even if that someone is just a bystander. That's the level of depravity into which this city has sunk.

And, lastly, what about the aboriginal community that's so concerned about murdered and missing aboriginal women? They are noticeable by their absence. They could be blanketing the area of the murder, speaking to people who won't speak to police, collecting names of suspects and helping to solve the murder.

But they're not.

There's no money in it. No hefty per diems. No grandstanding to justify travel allowances. Just hard slog, of the kind that police do all the time.

What do we know, then?

Cherie Richard was an innocent young woman, undereducated, perhaps, but living on her own and capable of making her own decisions. She made a series of bad decisions, encouraged by her older sister.

*  They decided to be out in the middle of the night, on bicycles. It was an hour when most people are at home, sleeping. The reason for their early-morning jaunt is still unclear.

*  They stopped outside an apartment with a bad reputation (known for drug raids and one previous murder) where they were approached by, or her sister engaged, three people, an encounter that escalated into an argument.

*  Common sense tells you to be wary of anyone you meet on the street at 5 in the morning in a city known as the Murder Capital of Canada. Moreso in a part of town known for its drug and gang influences.

*  So there they were, two young women in their twenties engaged in a shouting match on a public street at sunrise. As it turned out, one of the people she was arguing with was either armed with a knife or went inside to get a knife.

Shaii Richard may have known the two girls, while the man they were with was a stranger. At some point he left the encounter and went inside the apartment block. It appears that the argument ended, with Cherie and her sister about to leave. Then ,with no warning, the man allegedly ran out the door and just stabbed Cherie in the abdomen, taking off and leaving her to die.

The killer was obviously unstable, lacking the social restraint we expect in civil society. He was also very, very dangerous, lashing out with a killing blow at Cherie Richard, who wasn't involved in the argument and was just standing by her sister.

Wrong place at the wrong time?

Cherie Richard put herself in that place and at that time. She may have trusted her older sister to look after her, only to find herself led into a situation she wasn't expecting, a chance meeting with a homicidal stranger and a sudden, unexpected attack.

What can we learn?

With 20/20 hindsight we can say that if Cherie Richard had been home in bed like most people that Sunday morning, she would still be alive. If her sister hadn't engaged in an argument on the street which escalated into murder, Cherie would still be alive. But ultimately, that's not what killed her.

She was killed by a deranged individual who thought so little about the value of life that he killed a defenceless, innocent woman over nothing.

Aboriginal leaders are quick to blame everyone else for treating their murdered and missing women as if they have no value. But in this case, it's the killer who put no value on Cherie Richard's life.

The police would like nothing more than to capture him. The neighbourhood should be cooperating as much as possible with the police because the killer is obviously an extremely volatile and dangerous person who could kill again at the drop of a hat.

And those aboriginal "leaders" should show how much they care by using their resources to canvass the community for the killer's identity and to demonstrate that the killers of aboriginal women will be hunted down and brought to justice quickly.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights headed for tax sale?

Psst.
Hey, buddy.
Wanna buy a museum? Have we got a deal for you.

Big mofo. Ugly as sin. No heat. No lights. Its still unfinished--- but you can't beat the deal.

Once in a lifetime opp, pal. Buy it for a song, and the federal government pays you $21.5 million a year. 

Not a word of a lie. Hey, where you goin'? Buddy... Buddy...

Think we're kidding? Okay, a little bit.

But here's the real poop---as of June 30, the day you and we had to pay our property taxes to the city, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was $453,505 in arrears on its tax bill. And that's after some Fairy Godmother secretly wiped out another $118,000 of the tax bill. We're still waiting for some explanation how that happened.

If it was any other property in the city, it would have received a notice in writing from the City of Winnipeg last month that it had better come up with some heavy coin to pay off its taxes or risk being put on the list of properties up for tax sale.

But the CMHR is not any ordinary property. It's a federal building, and as such the city can't levy property taxes on it. Instead, the federal government pledges to give the city a "payment in lieu" of taxes equal to what the taxes would be otherwise. 

The problem is that even though the board of the unfinished museum got $21.5 milliion in operating funds last year, it isn't paying its "payment in lieu." The millionaires behind the museum---yes, we're pointing at you Gail Asper--- have been stiffing the City of Winnipeg for three years in a row while spending the millions they get from the feds on who-knows-what?

Any ordinary property owner would be looking at a tax bill approaching $700,000 plus penalties.

The CMHR isn't being charged a penny for non-payment of their "payment in lieu". They've made a few token payments, but still owe money on their 2010 tax bill plus 2011 and 2012 taxes.

However we were exaggerating about your chance at buying the empty hulk. The law says that a property put on the tax sale list, that isn't redeemed by the full payment of arrears, isn't sold at public auction. The city just takes over the title and tries to get rid of the property on its own.

But imagine what would happen if a Manitoba Indian Reserve built itself a $350 million meeting hall in Winnipeg that they never used, received $21.5 million from the federal government for operating funds, and went $700,000 into debt to the city for taxes. Oh yeah, the auditors would be flying in by the planeload. 

But when Whitey spends hundreds of millions of dollars and winds up with an empty echo chamber and an unpaid tax bill, nobody in Ottawa even blinks.

Just for the record, it's now been seven months since the Canadian Museum for Human Rights held its first and so-far only public meeting and revealed that the project was $61 million in the hole. How much has the CMHR raised since then?

A whopping ZERO.

In fact, the chief fundraiser for the museum silently packed her bags and slipped out the back door last month less than a year after being hired by the Friends of the CMHR with great fanfare for her superhuman skills at squeezing money out of donors.

And the "opening" date of the museum has quietly slipped another year to 2015 -- at least.

If it's finished by the end of this year as predicted, it will sit empty for years. 

Maybe they could lead tours of the world's largest dustbunnies to raise a few nickels.

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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Margo Goodhand's legacy in Winnipeg journalism. Bwahahahahaha

Hear that?

That's the silence on the airwaves where the popular radio station KICK-FM used to broadcast.

92.9 KICK-FM, (more formally known as CKIC-FM), operating under the aegis of Red River College, pulled the plug on itself at 4 p.m. Wednesday rather than submit to the further scrutiny of the CRTC in a licence renewal process. 

That silence is the bitter legacy of Winnipeg Free Press editor Margo Goodhand, whose interference in the running of KICK-FM led directly to the demise of the station which had been on the air almost 10 years.

It was only a couple of weeks ago when Margo Goodhand made the surprise announcement that she was resigning as of the end of July. She was, she said, leaving her sweet post for parts unknown after five years at the helm.

However she managed to stay around just long enough to see the irreparable damage that she caused to the radio station, to the reputation of the college, and, worst of all, to the integrity of the journalism course it offers.

The day of her resignation, newspaper publisher Bob Cox dutifully trotted out the expected accolades.

"Under her guidance the Free Press was recognized repeatedly for its quality journalism and was named the best news organization in the country." 

How hollow those words sound over the grave of KICK-FM.

In the midst of the 2010 civic election, Goodhand secretly contacted Stephanie Forsyth, the president of Red River College. Acting under the mistaken assumption that KICK-FM was a college-run station, Goodhand made her agenda clear.

The Winnipeg Free Press could take criticism; it was all for free speech, but....(There's always a 'but'.) But she wanted Forsyth to kill The Great Canadian Talk Show, one of the radio station's most popular programs which was currently grinding the FP into pulp daily for their pathetic election coverage. 

Some "but". 

Goodhand oozed contempt for the host, Marty Gold, then dropped the hint that, er, the Free Press had contacted a lawyer about a defamation suit.

In journalistic circles, they have a name for that sort of hint.

Libel chill.

It's a cheap tactic to stifle free speech.

Unless, of course, you're the editor of a major city daily and threatening someone you think you can intimidate.

That 'someone' hopped to do Goodhand's bidding. Two weeks later  TGCTS was cancelled without warning. 

But....not so fast.

It turned out that radio host Marty Gold was a much better journalism teacher than Goodhand or her sister-in-arms Stephanie Forsyth imagined.

And he had a dedicated host of listeners, many of whom instantly turned into citizen journalists, determined to get to the bottom of the story. "You have the power," Gold constantly exhorted his listeners. This time they were going to use it.

Gold filed a freedom-of-information request to see the record of why his show was cancelled so suddenly.

Lo and behold, there on top of the pile was Goodhand's secret email to "Dear Stephanie." 

When the National Post called Margo Goodhand for a comment on the furor over the cancellation of TGCTS, she did what you would expect the editor of a respected newspaper would do. She lied through her teeth.

What talk show? Never listened. Gold? Who? Not me. Nothing to do with it. You got the wrong number.

What she didn't know was that the pile of emails contained the trail of bloody fingerprints from her to the body.

Deb to Graham. "Stephanie has received a complaint from the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, Margo Goodhand..."
Deb Pokrant (Forsyth's secretary.)

Graham to Deb. "To cut to the chase, I don't think the college has the technical ability to remove him from the air, the station is a separate entity. However I think this could be done without too much trouble, either through a chat with Rick (the station manager...ed) or more formally through a board directive." Graham Thompson, Dean of Business

Deb to Graham. "By the way, KICK-FM has a board of directors and Cathy is currently on the Board." Deb

Cathy was Cathy Rushton, Vice President in charge of Finance.

( She got her reward for doing Stephanie Forsyth's bidding when she got axed one year ago after being blamed for the Union Tower reconstruction boondoggle.
http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2011/06/heads-roll-at-red-river-college-shhh.html
)

The emails were posted on the internet, but wouldn't you know it, the mainstream media appeared disinterested. The Canadian Association of Journalists, those vaunted "professional" reporters who fight for truth and justice, didn't issue a news release condemning the libel chill from the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press.

Duncan McMonagle, that "award-winning" journalism instructor at Red River College and former Senior Editor, The Globe and Mail, and former Editor-in-Chief, Winnipeg Free Press didn't made a public statement about the terrible example set for his students by his successor at the FP.

Not one of those brave Winnipeg radio talk show hosts or newspaper columnists stood up to condemn the actions of Margo Goodhand and Stephanie Forsyth.

But the citizen journalists did.

They started by going to Red River College and asking pointed questions about how and why TGCTS was cancelled.

Graham Thompson, the college's appointed official spokesman, did what a respected Dean of a respected college is expected to do. He lied through his teeth.

He had a new excuse for why the show was cancelled every day.

What he didn't expect was that the citizen journalists were comparing his many lies.

Finally, some of them filed formal complaints under the College ethics policy. Ethics shouldn't include lying to the public.

Unfortunately, the complaints had to go to Stephanie Forsyth, who wasn't about to entertain complaints against her own decisions. So she did nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing.

She took Erin Selby, Minister of Higher Education (which includes colleges and universities), to a Winnipeg Jets game to, er, get to know her better. Selby, in turn, ignored a whistleblower's complaint about financial mismanagement and breaches of the Corporations Act.

But while the cabal of Margo Goodhand, Stephanie Forsythe and Erin Selby thought their stonewall tactics had worked, they hadn't counted on the ingenuity of those citizen journalists.

They managed to root out the fact that the "official" decision to kill TGCTS was made by the "executive committee" of the radio station's board of directors.

That would be all well and good except for one thing --- there was no record of any "executive committee" ever having been formed, created, constituted, approved or it any way accepted as having the power to do anything.

This mystery committee was operating in defiance of the radio station's own Bylaws governing the creation of committees. And certainly in defiance of CRTC regulations.

The various executives of the radio station and the College suddenly became extremely reluctant to discuss the "executive committee." 

But they couldn't blow off the CRTC which began asking its own questions about the executive committee during the summer licence renewal process. KICK-FM informed the CRTC that all the records about this mystery committee had, ahem, been "lost." 

They must have done a lot of squirming in the hope the CRTC would buy that whopper.

Particularly since the Manitoba Corporations Act holds directors of corporations responsible for keeping and preserving minutes of meetings of all boards and all committees of boards. Violators face fines and a possible jail sentence.

The board of KICK-FM finally decided that they didn't want anyone asking any more questions about the executive committee, and how it spent taxpayers money without any records, and how it made decisions without any minutes being kept, and exactly who attended their secret, impromptu meetings.


They informed the CRTC they were giving back their licence.

Now, remember, Graham Thompson at one point insisted that the decision to kill TGCTS was made to give students experience of being on air during prime time (the drive-by slot). Now the students won't be on air at all.

Time for a new excuse, Graham.

-- Margo Goodhand started out to shut down a radio talk show. Her interference wound up shutting down the whole radio station.

-- The Dean of Business at Red River College demonstrated he couldn't operate a successful radio business.

--  The President of Red River College interfered in the programming of an affiliated but allegedly independent radio station and managed to lose the station's broadcast licence
, the college on the hook for over a quarter of a million dollars and the college journalism program offering radio training but without a radio station to train at. 

-- The head of the journalism program has to defend a course that charges the same tuition but substitutes practice on a college-run internet feed (the modern-day equivalent of a p.a. in the cafeteria) for a real radio station broadcast into the community.

That's some legacy that Margo Goodhand is leaving in her wake.

She would much rather you remember her for helping start the Community News Commons
, an ambitious project to train citizen journalists at the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe.

We wonder ... will they use Margo Goodhand's attack on citizen journalism in Winnipeg, attempt to kill free speech through libel chill, destruction of a radio station training student journalists, and web of lies and coverup as Lesson No.1?

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