The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The 4 R's of Idle No More---Wretched music, wrong facts, red racism, and Ransom redux

You can tell in a second why the Idle No More movement isn't attracting any support (despite what the mainstream media is telling you.)

The music sucks.

Our condolences to the reporters who are forced to stick around listening to the ear-bleeding screeching over mind-numbing drumming that passes as the soundtrack to the mob scenes which alienate the public more with each passing day. We shall overcome our urge to puke when we hear it.

An estimated 500 Idle supporters showed up at the Legislature Monday night to perform for the television cameras. That's the same number that showed up a month ago. No growth means nobody cares. The Idle crowd even dredged up Buffy St. Marie from somewhere to give their show some star appeal, except that the reaction to her presence was more "Is she still alive?" than "Wow."

A smaller crowd the same day had a bigger impact up north. About 30 people threw up a blockade of what the Winnipeg Free Press described as "the largest new mine development in the province", just west of Snow Lake between Thompson and Flin Flon.

The group included the chief of the Mathias Colomb Indian Reserve, the regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations and Pam Palmater, a self-proclaimed spokeswoman for Idle No More.

Mathias Colomb Chief Arlen Dumas told the Free Press he was "asserting" sovereignty over unceded territory. He said a littler "revenue resource sharing" would go a long way to ending the problem. That's another term for "white man works and then writes cheques to the Indian band which doesn't."

The reporter dutifully regurgitated the Idle propaganda without, you know, actually trying to find out if it was true. Because that's how the MSM reporters do it nowadays.

Well, you guessed it... Since, all together now---WE'RE ALL TREATY PEOPLE, we pulled out our trusty copy of Manitoba Treaties and started reading. Oh, look, there is the Mathias Colomb band and, what's that say? The band signed on to Treaty Six in 1898?

And in reading the treaty we discovered it states:
"The Plain and Wood Cree Tribes of Indians, and all other the Indians inhabiting the district herinafter described and defined, do hereby cede, release, surrender and yield up to the Government of the Dominion of Canada for Her Majesty the Queen and her successors forever, all their rights, titles, and privileges whatsoever to the lands included within the following limits..."

It goes on to describe north of this lake and west of that bend, then adds the following paragraph:

"And also all their rights, titles, and privileges whatsoever, to all other lands, wherever situated
, in the North-West Territories or in any other province or portion of Her Majesty's Dominions, situated and being within the Dominion of Canada."

We've highlighted a few words to make it easier for Chief Dumas and Pam Palmater to read.

In short, IT'S OUR LAND, CHIEFY, NOT YOURS, and has been for the past 114 years. You want some of that resource money? Learn a trade. Wait for when the mine is hiring. Update your resume. And get in line.
The Winnipeg Free Press has devoted space in their Saturday paper for two weekends in a row for stories on Idle No More. The first time it was five pages, the second three pages. In eight full pages they've never printed the text of the Manitoba treaties.

Gee, you'd think they don't want people to know what the treaties say. Even though WE'RE ALL TREATY PEOPLE.

Manitoba's phony hunger striker returned home on Friday, but not before he indulged in a little racist smearjob on a white nurse in Ontario.

Raymond Robinson started a faux hunger strike 43 days earlier in support of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, and nobody cared. For a month and a half he lived in Spence's shadow. Reporters came to talk to her, to fawn on her every twitch and proclamation. If Robinson got mentioned at all it was in the last paragraph of a story that said, oh, and Manitoba elder What'sisname is on a hunger strike, too.

When Spence was forced to stop her grandstanding performance (more about that in a moment), Robinson saw his chance to snatch a piece of victimhood from her. He went on television and cried about the" racist" treatment he got in an Ottawa hospital.

Oops. You know what they say about comedy. Timing is everything, even in a farce like a hunger strike that lasts a month and a half and the participants lose less weight than Jennifer Hudson and Jessica Simpson did eating full meals including dessert for the same period of time on the Weight Watchers plan.

Robinson's story went like this:
He went to the hospital emergency ward and was given a gown and told to get undressed. But first a nurse---a white, blonde nurse, he said---asked him some questions.

"What are you doing here? What brought you here?" she asked.

Robinson said he told her he hadn`t eaten in 43 days. But he didn't like her tone. She was aggressive. "It was almost a racial tone, was the way I took it," he told an enrapt Hannah Thibodeau on CBC's Power and Politics show.

Robinson told the nurse, Ìts all been prearranged.`` She wasn't mollified or intimidated.

``Ì don`t need this kind of abuse,`` Robinson remembered saying. ``I`ll take myself out of here and go somewhere else.``

"Where's my place in Canadian society?" he said to the CBC. "When I needed medical attention …. I can't even go to the hospital to get the proper treatment that I want and to be confronted in that way."

Complaint of racism in a hospital. Check. Straight out of the Sixties Indian playbook. The problem for Robinson was that he had spent the last 43 days twiddling his thumbs in a teepee. If he hadn`t he would have known about the announcement made by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to use nurse practitioners to get phonies like Robinson out of hospital emergency wards so that really sick people can get treated faster. In 2012, 45 percent of emergency room visits were by non-emergency patients.

Robinson demonstrated his own racist attitude to a white nurse. She was acting precisely how nurse practioners are expected to act in emergency rooms---triage the patients and send those who don`t have a life-and-death emergency elsewhere.

But, but, it was all prearranged, Robinson cried. Well, emergency rooms are not studios for photo ops. Even for phony hunger strikers.

All Robinson managed to do is to demonstrate for the camera what doctors and nurses put up with at Health Sciences Centre.

As for Chief Theresa Spence, she was playing out her own theatrical production. The MSM was giddy at the news that she had given up her protest after delivering a 13-point declaration of priorities. You had to read way, way, way deep into the CBC story, 24 paragraphs deep, to find the real story.

Spence quit playing hunger striker because her reserve had contacted a law firm and was going to endorse a resolution forcing her out as chief.

“If she was not to accept [to end] her hunger strike, then she would be asked to step down,” a band spokesman told CBC News.

And, finally, kudos to Brian Ransom, a Conservative Party MLA from 1977-1986, for standing up to the press bully Lindor Reynolds while the current crop of gutless Tory MLAs, starting with Mavis Taillieu, cowers in fear of not being seen liberal enough.

Reynolds used her Saturday column to villify Reed Turcotte, the owner and editor of the Morris Mirror. His great sin? He wrote two sentences giving a "thumbs down" to "Canada's native community and those of Manitoba" for making unrealistic demands of government and "in some cases acting like terrorists".

"Indians/Natives want it all but corruption and laziness prevent some of them from working for it." he said. Reynolds rails that the comment was "racist", so racist that the Free Press reprinted it in full.

She declared that "the majority of Morris residents say the editor does not speak for them." She obviously spoke with more than 800 of Morris. Manitoba's 1600 residents in the half day she spent in Morris in order to make such a statement.

Her rant went into overdrive.

"Unless Morris wants to join Selma, Ala., in the annals of shame, it's time to stand up and be counted."

Okay, enough, said Ransom in a reasoned op-ed. He painstakingly went through Reynolds carpet-chewing screed and took apart, almost line by line, her personal attacks on Turcotte, and Morris, and everyone who didn't agree with her harangue.

"Montgomery, Ala. Little Rock, Ark. Memphis, Tenn. Unless Morris, Man., wants to join the roll call of shame, the majority of decent people here must stand up and agree name-calling is no substitute for reasoned debate." Reynolds wrote.

The only thing missing in her spittle-drenching verbal assault was any reasoned debate.

She never mentioned the name of Chief Theresa Spence, who was exposed in a forensic audit of spending millions of dollars without any record of where that money went, for what purpose or to whom. She did pay her boyfriend $850 a day to look after the band finances, though.

She never examined the claim of terrorist words and actions. Ransom did. He quoted the definition from the Criminal Code which fits many of Manitoba's Indian spokesmen to a T. And we did.

So much for reasoned debate.

Reynolds learned her version of reasoned debate at the feet of former FP editor Margo Goodhand, who always spouted her support of free speech, then used her personal relations with the president of Red River College to kill a radio talk show that was humiliating her by exposing how bad the newspaper's civic election coverage was.

Goodhand's backroom interference eventually resulted in the cancellation of the talk show - as well as the eventual demise of the entire college-sponsored radio station.

It's clear by Reynold's column that she's after the same thing--- the destruction of the Morris Mirror.

Ransom thought Lindor Reynolds wanted reasoned debate, so he offered it. He failed to realize that the true impetus of the column was not an exchange of opinion. It was to win an award to feed her preening ego.

The FP bragged last month that one of her pieces (on the mass murder in the Sandy Hook elementary school) was named as one of the 12 best columns of 2012, according to Daily Beast, an American news and opinion website that merged with Newsweek.

They forgot to mention the nominees were compiled in a 10 hours blitz of Facebook and Twitter and picked by a panel of one man on a deadline.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tory Whip joins the Idle mob to silence an uncooperative journalist

Well, well, well....Progressive Conservative MLA Mavis Taillieu has picked up her pitchfork and torch and joined the mob trying to silence the editor of the Morris Mirror.

Taillieu, who is usually invisible on every other issue under the sun, wants to be sure to be seen to be in the front ranks of those eager to stifle a journalist's right to fair comment on a controversial issue in the community.

Free speech? Freedom of expression? Freedom of belief? What fool thinks that crap up? Certainly not the caucus whip of the P.C. Party of Manitoba.

She has pulled her political advertising from the newspaper because Mirror editor Reed Turcotte has refused to kowtow to the intimidation tactics of the Idle No More crowd. You know, the people who are loudly demanding their, er, constitutional rights.

What did Turcotte do to stir up the mob? He offered his honest opinion on the extremists in their bunch, and printed the inconvenient truth of their "movement." Horrors.

Here's what he wrote:

Thumbs Down - to Canada’s native
community and those of Manitoba who are
demanding unrealistic expectations of the
government and who in some cases are acting
like terrorists in their own country. Indians/Natives
want it all but corruption and laziness prevent some of
them from working for it.

The CBC, which has become the propaganda arm of the Idle movement just as the Winnipeg Free Press is the propaganda arm of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, never misses an opportunity to call the comment "racist."

Then the CBC and the rest of the local mainstream media never seem to find the space or time to actually examine Turcotte's comment for accuracy.

Take the claim of "acting like terrorists".  That's got the Idle people excited and upset.

Let's look at the facts:

Jan.6, 2013

Reporters covering a blockade by aboriginals of a rail line east of Belleville, Ontario, spot someone tampering with crossing signals.

"They were observed going to the crossing signals, tampering with them," said CN spokesman Jim Feeny. "The crossing signals were then activated and then subsequently a fire was lit - first on the tracks, but then moved to the side of the tracks."

"It's a serious issue for us because tampering with signals of any kind is illegal and poses a great threat to the public," he said. "We have to have absolute confidence that our signals are working perfectly in order to be able to operate

Jan. 10, 2013

"We have had enough. Our young people have had enough. Our women have had enough ... . We have nothing left to lose," said Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
"The Idle No More movement has the people - it has the people and the numbers - that can bring the Canadian economy to its knees," Nepinak said to reporters in Ottawa.

"We have the warriors that are standing up now, that are willing to go that far. So we're not here to make requests, we're here to demand attention," he said.

Jan. 16, 2013

Terry Nelson, the former Chief of the Roseau River Indian Reserve, leads a blockade of a CN line near Portage la Prairie. Three months earlier he had been in Iran where he denounced Canada on Iranian television. In 2007 when threatening another rail blockade, Nelson said "There are two ways to deal with the white man. You either pick up a gun or you stand between him and his money." One of his associates at the Jan. 16 protest was caught on camera shouting "White man, go home."

CBC failed, or refused, to report on the racist taunts of the Idle No More protester, or to highlight the words of Nepinak and Nelson, the rhetorical terror twins.

As they say on Yertle the Turtle Island, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

As for the reference to corruption and laziness, maybe the MSM "journalists" were too busy marching to remember the shocking audit of Idle hero Theresa Spence's reserve Attawapiskat where millions of dollars were spent without a trace of where, for what or to whom the money was given. Spence reacted by showing her contempt for the constitutional rights of the press by refusing access to the reserve to any reporters who weren't "friends", and couldn't be counted on to spin positive stories.
Niigaan Sinclair, a lecturer with the University of Manitoba's native studies department, went to Morris to meet with Reed Turcotte to discuss the Idle No More movement with him in person. The CBC dutifully reported he was "snubbed" and given the "cold shoulder" by the paper's editor.

They did say that Turcotte had replied to an email from Sinclair saying he wasn't ready to discuss the matter until things cooled down. Sinclair refused to take the hint and showed up at the newspaper office anyway, with the CBC spinning the story to make the editor look as if he was refusing to engage in dialog with an aboriginal.

They could have pointed out that there's a funny term in legal circles for imposing yourself on people who have made it clear they don't want to talk to you -- stalking.

And stalking leads to something called intimidation. Maybe Sinclair should have called up Mavis Taillieu to come with him.

She thinks being the Whip means she can order people around. What a perfect fit for a movement based on mob tactics.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, January 21, 2013

Killing the myths of Idle No More

He wears feathers on his head and calls himself the Grand Chief. Meet Derek Nepinak who fancies himself as a playa on the national scene, what with the mainstream media fawning over him as he makes his, ahem, demands on the Prime Minister.

Nepinak has been honing his schtick in Manitoba for over a year since being elected Big Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. You see, he had an idea.

Indians have no money.

You have money.

So if he could get his hands on your money, that would solve the problem of Indians without money. See how simple it is?

But how to extract more of your money? The answer lay in the word "extract", as in natural resources.

Nepinak has been pushing the idea of something called resource revenue sharing. That's where mining companies, drilling companies, and others have to pay Indians whenever they invest millions of dollars of their own money to develop Canada's natural resources.

Is it because of all those unpaid aboriginal geologists who discovered the untapped ore fields?


Is it because of all those underpaid aboriginal engineers who designed the heavy machinery, the pipelines, the software used to extract natural resources?


Is it because of those unsung aboriginal chemists who devised alloys and compounds that turned those natural resources into consumer products?

Uh uh.

It's because his great grandmother shit in the woods.

That's it.

It doesn't get any more complicated than that. Just because Indians roamed the province 150 years ago, Nepinak says, they should get a cut of all the resources.

Where did he get such an idea? Well, we're guessing from Manitoba Hydro. Yes, Manitoba Hydro. You see, years ago the NDP in Manitoba invented a way to disguise provincial welfare payments as dividends from investment on guess what, natural resource development.

They would pretend that the Nelson House Indian Reserve would be a "partner" in building the Wuskwatim power project, Manitoba Hydro's first new hydroelectric development in 20 years.

The Black Rod reported the scam of the faux partnership in 2008 with details provided by the Public Utilities Board.

In a nutshell, Hydro was to borrow millions of dollars to "lend" to its partner who would then use that money to "invest" in the Wuskwatim project, and "earn" profits from the export of electricity to the U.S.
Hydro even agreed to pay its partner dividends during the years when there were no dividends to pay, and recoup the advance later.

Except that the project turned out to be such a boondoggle that it looks like it will never make a profit and Hydro's partner will never be in a position to pay back any of the money advanced by Hydro.

Even worse, the deal called for Nelson House to pay a portion of any losses by Hydro on the Wuskwatim project for the first 10 years. Nobody imagined that Hydro would lose its shirt on the project. The Winnipeg Free Press has reported that Nelson House now owes Hydro about $38 million.

So guess what? Manitoba Hydro intends to renegotiate the deal so that its "partner" doesn't have to contribute anything to cover Hydro's losses.

Sweet, isn't it. The Indian reserve would buy a third of the Wuskwatim with money provided by Manitoba Hydro, would get "dividends" even in years when the project wasn't making any profits, and won't have to worry about covering losses that they agreed to cover because Hydro will just rewrite the "partnership" to take them off the hook.

And this was going to be the template for all future hydro development.

Money for nothing. Dreams of sugar plums danced in their heads. Chiefs could just sit on their duffs and wait for the cheques to roll in. Does the word freeloading come to mind?

But how to force resource companies to write those cheques? The government was trying to disguise welfare payments. Private companies didn't have to "share" their profits with anyone.

So up came the concept of "traditional" aboriginal lands. Anyone developing natural resources on "traditional" aboriginal land would have to kickback a portion of the profit to Indian bands. Simple, eh.

Simple but for the fact that "we're all treaty people."

This isn't Indian land. It's government land. It's my land and it's your land. The Indians signed a treaty 144 years ago ceding all the land that's now Manitoba. Ever since, they have had no claim to any land. Not even reserves. The Crown agreed, in the treaties, to set aside designated tracts of land, or, in other words, to reserve that land, for the exclusive use of Indians. But that land still belongs to the Crown. Not even reserve land belongs to Indian bands. And there's not a word in the treaties about "sharing" revenues.

That's just one of many falsehoods and untruths being bandied about by the Idle No More crowd and which the mainstream media refuses to address or correct.

Take this exquisite piece of misinformation spun by none other than Lloyd Axworthy
, the president of the University of Winnipeg and self-styled champion of aboriginal people. It appeared in an op-ed in the Globe and Mail:

Canada's future: Let's be divided no more, Jan. 11, 2013.

"The federal government estimates there are natural resource projects worth $500-billion to be developed in the next decade. Our Constitution directs that we have a duty to consult the indigenous people in whose backyards those resources lie. Many in industry have already recognized that better relationships with indigenous people are cultivated at the negotiating table rather than in the courtroom or on the picket line."

Well the fact, Jack, is that there is the Constitution does NOT direct a duty to consult. Got that?

For the slow readers we'll repeat that. There is NO constitutional duty to consult with Indians about anything

The duty to consult was invented out of whole cloth in 2004 by the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada. See Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 511, 2004 SCC 73 and Taku River Tlingit First Nation v. British Columbia (Project Assessment Director), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 550, 2004 SCC 74.

Indian treaties were recognized as part of Canada's constitution as of 1982, the year the Constitution Act was passed. But the Supreme Court cannot amend the constitution of Canada on a whim. There is a clear process that needs to be followed. That process does not include nine unelected people sitting around eating pizza.

The Supreme Court, by inventing a duty to consult, simply informed lawyers that that was how it would interpret the laws from now on. That is a classic case of judicial activism where the judges invent a law that hasn't been passed by the elected legislative bodies of Parliament, or in this matter of the constitution, by the Provinces and federal government.

That may be fine with Lloyd Axworthy, but it is not the law.

The most asinine falsehood was made by a Winnipeg teacher, no less.

Matt Henderson, a social studies teacher at St.John's-Ravenscourt School, wrote a column for the Winnipeg Free Press, published Saturday Jan. 19, 2013, in which, while defending the Idle No More mobs, he declared:

 "Firstly, indigenous people in this country had their land stolen and they want it back."

Say what? This from someone with access to students? Haven't the Idle protestors been saying they want their treaty rights enforced and here is a white man who professes to be a teacher who says the treaties are phony and should be ignored?

Matt Henderson was repudiated one hundred and forty years ago by Chief Mawedopenais of the Rainy River band, one of the main negotiators of the North West Angle Treaty that covered northwestern Ontario.

At the conclusion of the negotiations, Mawedopenais stepped up to Lieutenant Governor Alexander Morris and said:
"Now you see me stand before you all; what has been done here today has been done openly before the Great Spirit, and before the nation, and I hope that I may never hear any one say that this treaty has been done secretly; and now, in closing this Council, I take off my glove, and in giving you my hand, I deliver over my birthright and lands; and in taking your hand, I hold fast all the promises you have made, and I hope they will loast as long as the sun goes round and the water flows, as you said."

Alexander Morris was Lt. Governor of Manitoba from 1873 to 1878. He compiled a full report on treaty negotiations with the Indians of Manitoba and Northwest Territories (as they then were) and delivered it to the Earl of Dufferin in 1880. The report contains the texts of Treaties One through Seven, along with accounts of the negotiations and speeches made by representatives from both sides during and after the negotiations. It is an invaluable source.

Among the myths dispelled by the Morris report is the whopper spun by Chiefs Nepinak and his hero Chief Theresa Spence, she of the low-cal diet that holds the MSM spellbound. These, er, leaders insist the Prime Minister has to meet with Indian Chiefs in the presence of the Governor General because Indian treaties were between the local bands and the Crown.

In his contemporary report on treaty negotiations, Morris wrote regarding Treaties No. 1 and 2:

"In the year 1871, the late Honourable Joseph Howe, then Secretary of State of Canada, recommended the appointment, by the Privy Council of Canada, of Mr. Wemyss McKenzie Simpson, as Indian Commissioner, in consequence of "the necessity of arranging with the bands of Indians inhabiting the tract of country between Thunder Bay and the Stone Fort, for the cession, subject to certain reserves such as they should select, of the lands occupied by them"."

His report goes on to explain that the actual treaty negotiations were conducted by Simpson, the Indian Commissioner, and not by himself, the Queen's representative in the territory.

"After a prolonged discussion with them, I consulted with the Lieutenant Governor and determined to let them at once understand the terms that I was prepared to offer, and I pointed out that the terms offered were those which would receive Her Majesty's consent," Simpson wrote to Ottawa on July 30, 1871 from Lower Fort Garry, Manitoba.

Note his words. He is offering terms to which he believes the Queen will consent. He is not bringing the Queen's terms to the Indians. They are negotiating with him, as a representative of the government of Canada which got its authority from the Queen. As head of state, the Queen had to officially guarantee the treaty, but she had no say in the terms and was not involved in negotiations.

And let's not forget Grand Chief Derek Nepinak. He wants---nay, demands---that the Prime Minister of Canada meet government to government with the chiefs of "first nations." Let's see...

Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada which has a population of 34.4 million people.

Derek Nepinak was the Chief of the Pine Creek reserve which has a population of just over 2,700 people.

Stephen Harper is Prime Minister by virtue of the fact that his party collected 5.8 million votes in the las
t election and those 5.8 million votes translated into the most seats in Parliament.

Derek Nepinak got 190 votes to win as Chief of Pine Creek
, then a year later became Grand Chief of the AMC by winning 34 votes on the second ballot. Those 34 votes mean he represents the 59 Chiefs that make up the AMC. Period. He represents only those 59 other Chiefs, not the 128,000 aboriginal people that make up the Indian population of Manitoba.

Having the biggest mouth doesn't mean you have the most say, no matter how many feathers you wear on your head.
Tacit No More.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 14, 2013

And now for something a little different: A review of 'Gone with the Wind' by MTC

We splurged on some good seats.

We got there early.

We were excited.
And in return we were given three hours and five minutes of exactly what we came for -- an enchanting evening of theatre with the premiere of an adaptation of one of the world's most famous novels, Gone With the Wind.

We left MTC with goofy smiles on our faces. Yes, we were the ones with the goofy smiles Saturday night. We were thoroughly entertained.

Make no mistake---this is a work in progress. But why review what isn't there when what is there is captivating on its own. The entire Gone With the Wind story is there -- from the glory days of the Old South to the horrors of the Civil War, including the burning of Atlanta, to the upheaval of the Reconstruction. And Scarlett, bewitching and cunning Scarlett O'Hara, destined to be one of the great Stage Noir temptresses.

It's not story that makes theatre; it's the actors. Gone With the Wind begins and ends with Scarlett O'Hara, and it's Bethany Jillard who brings Scarlett to life. Jillard owns Scarlett O'Hara. She dares any actress in the country to come and take the role from her.

Playwright Niki Landau needed to relax and trust Jillard to do her job. There are a few scenes where the writer hammers home the message (women can do as good a job as men but have to act dumb to get a man) with the subtlety of a jackhammer. Jillard's Scarlett does the same with her venomous charm and spine of iron, when necessary.

And what about that infamous bad boy Rhett Butler? Well, if Clark Gable was alive and Canadian he would be Tom McCamus. Another reviewer referred to McCamus's "languid delivery", but he should have consulted his dictionary first. Languid is defined as listless, without spirit, vigor or vitality. Rhett Butler lacking spirit? Hardly.

McCamus is every inch the Southern lothario, dominating a room with his presence, supremely confident in what he wants and that he will get it, especially when his goal is a woman; so sure of himself he's unfazed by society's scorn for his "reputation". He ruined a girl, you know. And now he wants Scarlett. And he takes her.

He sweeps her up and literally carries her up the stairs to his bedroom. No camera tricks here. And when she breaks his heart, he utters those famous last words. You come expecting a great love story? Well, it's here.

The rest of the cast has its share of standouts. William Vickers as Scarlett's daddy Gerald O'Hara, Miriam Smith as the gossip Miss Pittypat, and Miche Braden as Mammy, the only major role for a black actor in this version of the story set in the Deep South.

MTC (we still think the Royal before MTC is pretentious) spared no expense on sets, that's for sure. We go smoothly from Tara, the plantation owned by Scarlett's father, to Rhett Butler's two-storey house, to the streets of Atlanta. We stand in the field as Scarlett proclaims "As God is my witness, I'll never go hungry." And on the outskirts of town as Atlanta burns and the South loses the war. This play moves.

As we said earlier, Gone With the Wind, is unfinished. It's a hard lesson for MTC. A commission of this size needs a full-time playwright. Writer Landau ran a theatre school, raised a child, and fulfilled other acting commitments during the nearly four years between getting the go-ahead and the first show of the run.

That she managed to condense the one thousand-pages-plus of the novel into a three-hour production is a marvel. Her work is not done. That's still no excuse not to see this production. That's the exciting part of theatre -- to see a major play take shape. Imagine the first run of The Phantom of the Opera. Oops, I thought you were holding the chandelier. Look out below!

This first run of Gone With the Wind is a treat for fans of the book and the movie, or just fans of good acting. We can hardly wait to compare it to Gone With the Wind 2.0

We're getting those goofy smiles just thinking about it.

Labels: , ,