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:

Monday, September 30, 2013

The CMHR may not open until 2015 - but see what you're paying $351,000,000+ for

What do you think?  

A Human Rights Museum insider with intimate knowledge of how the exhibits are progressing posted this on a website:

Canadian Museum For Human Rights — Winnipeg, Canada — Completion September 2015

Say what?  Until now the various talking heads from the CMHR have sworn up, down and sideways that the museum will open in 2014--- only two years behind schedule.  They even collected $45 million from the federal government last year on their sacred pledge that this boon (plus a $35 million loan to be co-signed by the government of Manitoba) was all they needed to guarantee a 2014 opening.  Guarantee!  Pinky swear!

Suddenly they're talking about opening two years from now?  Three years behind schedule?

We started beating the bushes.

"This" magazine was in no doubt what year the CMHR would open:

"Friday FTW: Human rights museum asks gay couples to share their stories for exhibit
by Catherine McIntyre    March 8, 2013
The Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg is asking for marriage photos from same-sex couples couples for the museum’s opening exhibit in 2015.
The exhibit pays tribute to the struggle for gay rights, but it is also intended to “normalize” LGBT relationships for people who are perhaps a little homophobic..."

You've heard of enEoute, Air Canada's in-flight magazine.

"Winnipeg's Architectural Renaissance

From condos on stilts to an iceberg-shaped museum, Winnipeg is designing a novel architecture scene.
May 30, 2013 · By Alec Scott | Photos by Lorne Bridgman

The prairie stretches out seamlessly before me as I look through the glass walls of the new Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. Past the runways, long yellow grasses ripple in the breeze and wispy clouds drift across the sky. Inside, the blue, gold and white carpet riffs on the dominant colours of the landscape. In the soaring arrivals hall, where sky-blue LEDs rim the circular skylights, I pass a mother welcoming a returning daughter. "It's been too long," the mother admonishes. So it has, I think, as it's been more than a decade since I visited the Peg myself. 

And, as I'm soon to discover, the airport (designed by the Argentinian-American starchitect Cesar Pelli, in collaboration with Winnipeg-based David Essex) is just one playful part of the city's post-millennial makeover.

On my first morning in town, I jog toward the Forks, the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers that shapes the downtown core. 

I'm shocked by the Great Pyramid scale of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights rising just beyond. One side is a series of stepped levels clad in yellowy, veined Tyndall stone, quarried nearby and used on Winnipeg's important buildings. On the other side, arc-shaped swathes of glass lead up to the Tower of Hope, which looks like a giant pilot light. Slated to open in 2015, the museum has been igniting many questions: Will architect Antoine Predock's building draw crowds to Winnipeg like Frank Gehry's Guggenheim drew them to Bilbao? Will media baron Izzy Asper's dream prove worthy of its $350-million-plus sticker price? Whatever the answers, the structure is not the only big architectural development poking the skyline; it's just the tip of the iceberg, which, come to think of it, is what it resembles."
Et tu, Tourism Winnipeg?

"Past, Present, Future: Winnipeg's Captivating Stories

Whether discussing human rights, learning about Winnipeg’s gripping history and its colourful characters, or taking in a modern-day theatre production at one of Canada’s largest fringe festivals, the city is alive in summer with an intriguing story to tell at every corner.

Day 1

Arrive in Winnipeg.

Explore Winnipeg’s rich historic past on a guided city “Heart of the Nation” tour aboard a charming heritage trolley. From 1870 to 1920, Winnipeg was the driving force of Canada with a disproportionate amount of wealth. The Winnipeg Trolley takes your group back in time to learn why Winnipeg was once called the “wickedest city in Canada,” how an underdog local hockey team became the world’s first Olympic hockey champions, the city’s connection to the world’s most famous spy—James Bond, and more.

Day 2

Spend the morning with Mother Nature at Winnipeg’s prime green space, Assiniboine Park. While on a guided tour, stroll through colourful, fragrant flowers in bloom at the English Garden. Then, marvel at fine art sculptures complemented by lily ponds, fountains and flower beds in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. Your adventure is complete with lunch in a restaurant overlooking the verdant lawns of the park.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights: Set for group programming in 2015, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is an “idea” museum. Designed by Antoine Predock, this national treasure is redefining Winnipeg’s skyline. The museum will share stories of human rights issues from around the world; its goal is to bring people together to engage in discussion and commit to a world where everyone is respected."

But fear not. Thanks to the magic of Google, we can bring you a glimpse of what you are going to see within the giant walls of the CMHR whenever it opens:

CMHR vision of entrance

CMHR Holocaust gallery
First impression----what an enormous waste of open space!

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Searching for the Blue Bomber stadium overrun millions

My, my....has it only been two months since The Black Rod broke the story of millions of dollars in cost overruns on the new Blue Bombers stadium?
The Winnipeg MSM ignored the story as long as they could, but by early September, when even the Hamilton Spectator was reporting the  cost of the stadium was approaching a quarter of a billion dollars, they were forced to do some reporting of their own.

These days you can barely pick up a newspaper without seeing another story on the stadium as the Bombers admit the facility has repeatedly breached the "guaranteed" maximum price of $190 million.

The difference is that our primary source, who we're calling A Person In A Position To Know, says the cost overrun is in the vicinity of $40 million, and the Blue Bombers only 'fess up to $14 million.  But given our man's accuracy so far, including the detail way back in July that the hidden costs included insulating mechanical systems, our money is on him.

Here's how Winnipeg Free Press reporter Bartley Kives played catch-up last week:
Extra bucks hover over stadium
Stakeholders kicking the bill around
By: Bartley Kives
Posted: 09/20/2013
The price tag for Winnipeg's new football stadium has risen to nearly $204 million, thanks to $3.5 million of additional work at Investors Group Field.
BBB Stadium Inc., the non-profit organization responsible for building the 33,500-seat facility at the University of Manitoba, is trying to sort out who will pay a $3.5-million tab for work done to the stadium outside the scope of the original construction contract.
That work included rebuilding handrails at the stadium, the installation of a fire-suppression system missing from a crawl space and additional insulation of some plumbing, BBB Stadium chairman Phil Sheegl said Thursday in an interview.
The added insulation was required after a plan to build an all-weather winter dome over the playing surface was scrapped, Sheegl revealed.

Ahh, the dome.  We knew all about that way back in July, courtesy of A Person who informed anyone interested:

"...dome thing was cancelled by asper once the government money was secured....was the first thing to was just a marketing ploy to make it seem like $200m investment was good for tim bits soccer."
"....i always believed it was a ploy to get money from the government...proving it was 'for the people' not pro athletes..."
"it was a big deal when announced though...pretty funny that nobody in the press asks where it went...maybe they will this winter."

Who knows, maybe now the Winnipeg Free Press will start asking how and when the vaunted dome got turfed, and why nobody told the public.

While digging deeper into the stadium debacle we may have uncovered another $7 million at least of hidden cost.

In September, 2012, Structal Heavy Steel, a sub-contractor on the project, filed a lien on the new stadium for $15.5 million.  Just under half of that ($7.4 million) was for invoices on steel work already completed under their contract and the rest ($8.1 million) for added costs due to “work scopes, circumstances, conditions and events outside of [its] contract scope, and/or not within [its] control”.

Translation: the stadium was a year behind schedule and Structal didn't want the blame.

Stuart Olson Dominion Construction Ltd., the general contractor, took out a bond for $15.5 million to be paid out in the event they eventually lost a judgement in the dispute. Structal withdrew their lien, but still wanted to get paid the $7.4 million owed to them for their sub-contract.

In February, a court ruled against Structal, saying the work invoices were part and parcel of their beef with the general contractor and covered by Stuart Olson's bond.  They would have to wait until that was straightened out to get their money.

Stuart Olson, by then, had filed a lawsuit for $15 million against Structal, complicating the matter even more.
What's that all mean?  Well, for $159,000 a year, the cost of the bond, the general contractor enjoys at least $7.4 million worth of steel work they haven't paid for. There's no doubt on either side that they owe that money, just when they'll have to pay it.  Is that $7.4 million accounted for in the current, new, cost of the stadium?

And if the two contractors iron out their differences on the other $8 million, will that be added to the cost overruns? 

There's a saying among bloggers: everybody knows something.  Here are a few snippets of street knowledge regarding the stadium posted back in February:

this post was submitted on 06 Feb 2013

PillowRage Charleswood
I overheard a conversation at work in June or July about a cause for the delays. Another engineer had been in contact with a guy from the Quebec company that is now being sued by Stuart Olson Dominion. He was in town working at the stadium for a few weeks/months. Turns out there was an issue with the Chinese bolts being used to assemble the structural steel. They were snapping heads off some of them before they could be torqued, and had a chunk of the stadium done before they decided to go back and replace all of them with bolts from a different supplier.

I have friends working on site. It's a structural nightmare. They are adding steel support columns over finished walls to support the roof structure. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure that's only the tip of the iceberg of problems with the design.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gang Associate Who Shot Up A House Gets Kid-Glove Treatment from NDP. Who's His Daddy?

When a law-breaking government is in power, the usual rules of propriety go out the window.

That means in Manitoba, the onus has shifted to the NDP government to prove that every decision that looks or smells fishy is actually legitimate.  We can no longer assume they are honourable members of the Legislature.

Case in point is the special treatment given to a teenaged potential killer who pleaded guilty to  reckless discharge of a firearm and unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon and received the proverbial slap on the wrist Tuesday.

The official record barely hints at the crime he committed. On a Saturday night in February the then-16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old companion showed up at a party on Frances Street in Winnipeg's Centennial neighbourhood. The details of the night as published online by the Winnipeg Free Press are confusing. It appears the pair were part of "a group of people". There was an argument over their being asked to take their shoes off.  The boy and his pal left---and decided to show they weren't going to be disrespected.

They came back "a short time later" carrying a sawed-off shotgun and a .22-calibre rifle.  It's unclear which teen carried which gun. But they started blasting at the house, you know, just like in the movies. What fun.

Windows to the main floor living room and the upstairs were shot out, and shots "smashed" a storm door, but were stopped by a steel front door.

Police said five people were in the house at the time of the shooting (about 4:30 a.m. the Sunday morning). Nobody was hit by the gunfire.

But police weren't treating the incident lightly.  The Tactical Response Team was dispatched along with general patrol cars. Detectives from the Major Crimes Unit investigated. By all indications the incident involved people "known to police", probably gang members.

A tracker dog led police to a house on Alexander Avenue where the teen gunmen were arrested and their weapons seized.

Canada has tough laws for gun crimes, including mandatory minimum sentences.  Manitoba Justice Officials threw those laws in the trash along with their own policy on gun crimes.

Here's where they NDP prosecutions branch talks the talk:
The primary focus of this policy is protection of the public. Liberal access to firearms is a factor in violent crime, accidents and suicide. The effects of easy access to firearms are well documented both in Canada and in other countries. One need only remember the terrible tragedy of the Montreal Massacre to appreciate the magnitude of the violence that can result from the criminal use of firearms and the public’s perception of that violence.
On December 6, 1989, Marc Lepine shot 27 people at L’École Polytechnique in Montreal. Fourteen women were killed. Crown Attorneys must always be mindful of their responsibility to protect the public in cases where firearms are involved.This policy is intended to assist Crown Attorneys by:
a) Identifying special provisions of the Criminal Code with respect to firearms.
b) Providing statistical information regarding the criminal use of firearms.
c) Providing a summary of recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions involving firearms.
Crown Attorneys should make full use of all of these tools in order that the public may be protected.


The resolution of firearms offences should be premised on providing the greatest possible protection to the public. By providing for mandatory, minimum sentences and minimum
consecutive sentences for certain firearms offences, Parliament has confirmed the gravity of these offences and expressed the need to deter and denounce those particular offences.
a) Where a real firearm has been used, provided there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction, Crown Attorneys must not reduce or withdraw a charge that carries a mandatory minimum sentence unless there are exceptional circumstances.
The Winnipeg Free Press said the judge in the matter was told that Crown attorneys are directed "to seek adult sentences for youth when firearms are dangerously discharged."

This did not happen.   In other words, something fishy is going on here.

Prosecutors claimed there were special circumstances that warranted a light sentence on the widdle boy who nearly killed some or all of five people with his recklessness.

Well, they said, the kid (now 17) had no criminal record.  Oh, and he had already been in jail for six months since his arrest.

So, let's see ... every criminal starts somewhere, and he started at the top---murder, except that he didn't manage to hit anyone.  He tried and it was only by luck that he didn't kill or maim somebody with his shots. For that he gets a break?

And he's been in jail since he got arrested. There's only one question about that----why?  Why couldn't he get bail? As a juvenile in Manitoba you have to  beg and threaten to go to the United Nations to stay in custody.  No juveniles are kept locked up unless they are extremely dangerous.  Is he extremely dangerous? Or did he show his good side by telling police where the sawed-off shotgun came from?  Yeah, right.

Court was told that at the time he was arrested he was "flirting" with gangs.  In other words he was a gang associate, the terminology prosecutors always use when Hell's Angels are involved. More disturbing, the FP story said, the youth was involved in bullying younger inmates while in jail. And he demonstrated an attraction to "those more powerful than himself", whatever that means. It sounds like he hung out with jailed gang members in jail as well as out.

Nothing about the kid suggests he's a good risk to get out of jail soon. And yet the NDP prosecutions staff decided not to seek an adult sentence for this potential killer and instead to see him get the "maximum" sentence as a youth--- two years in custody and a year "of supervision in the community."  In practical terms he's already eligible for release.

Why did this kid get the kid-glove treatment?

The clue lies with who his parents are.  The Winnipeg Free Press said his parents "are each involved in forms of youth-related outreach."  Daddy, who has already demonstrated he has no control over the kid as a teen, said ""I believe very strongly that he can turn this around."

But who are the parents?  The newspaper can't name them because the law on teen criminals protects their identities.  But the question demands an answer.

Why did the Crown give special treatment to a gang-loving, bullying kid facing a mandatory minimum sentence for gun crimes? Was it because of who his parents are? 

Do they have any association with Deputy Minister Eric Robinson, whose views on bias against white people are well-known.  Or Premier Greg Selinger?  Or Jeffrey Schnoor,  Deputy Minister and Deputy Attorney General for the Manitoba Department of Justice.
Opposition leader Brian Pallister should find time between patting himself on the back for sitting in the Legislature all summer to find out.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Winnipeg Blue Bombers are staring at $40 million in stadium cost overruns

Open wide, folks.

Mary Poppins sang how a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down--- and the first win by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in their spanking new football stadium is as sweet as it gets.

But now it's time for your medicine.
While watching the game we thought that it was a good time to catch up with A Person In A Position To Know. We introduced him to you back in July with his hot tip about the cost overruns on the stadium that were being kept under wraps.

Yikes. No sooner did we touch base with APIAPTK than we realized that the team's new acting CEO Wade Miller is sitting on the biggest powder keg in blue-and-gold history. 

When she blows, the blast will be monumental.

And this time, A Person In A Position To Know is not the only source of the explosive news.

During a recent on-line chitchat about stadium matters, when a curious football fan asked "how much these specific cost overruns are",  A Person In A Position To Know was able to answer when, during a related discussion, the fan tossed out a figure of $400,000, he was informed "add two zeros and you've got the value of the overruns....and its still going up."

Forty million dollars.  That's on top of the $190 million the project was supposed to cost, a number that was allegedly protected by a 'Guaranteed Maximum Price' promise from Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz.

What? You don't trust a single-sourced story? Then read this and weep.

It's from the Aug. 31 issue of the Hamilton Spectator by their Hamilton Tiger Cats beat reporter Drew Edwards.
Lessons for Hamilton from Winnipeg's stadium
Fan experience should be first priority,
but reality is football and finances are often like O-line vs. D-line
By Drew Edwards
The most impressive element of the new Investors Group Field in Winnipeg is unquestionably the massive roof, its two sections of ornately-designed, curved steel covering almost eight acres and stretching almost 200 feet over the seats below. It's swooping profile is the iconic image used in much of the branding.
But the roof also added approximately $35 million to the cost and was the central factor in a year-long delay in opening the facility.
The new Hamilton stadium, due to open in time for the 2014 CFL season next July, will have no such roof, one of several important differences between Tim Hortons Field and the Investors Group version in Winnipeg.
One is cost. Tim Hortons Field has a budget of $148 million, while IGF was budgeted at $200 million before the delay and additional, costs which are expected to push the final tally closer to a quarter of a billion dollars. Money in Winnipeg is undeniably tight: for example, the press box is still unfinished - it's currently situated outdoors - and will have to be enclosed before the Bombers can hold a Grey Cup.
One of the possible explanations for the construction delay and some of the oversights in the Winnipeg facility is the relative inexperience in both the architect and the builder in constructing sports facilities. Both firms were required to be Manitoba-based by the terms set by the provincial government, the primary financial backer...

Not exactly so that last part, according to A Person In A Position To Know. 

"many of the cost overruns came because asper considered himself the client and not the bombers....after he got turfed and the building was under construction they had to go back in and make it functional for the football team...add that to the inexperience of the architect and you have huge cost overruns like he says." explained Person.

However you slice it, we're in for a financial flood of woe.  The Bombers currently are in hock for the stadium for the next 44 years. 

Add another $40,000,000 and counting, and they'll still be owing on the facility 50 years from now when the bulldozers start tearing it down to build a new one. 

Only you can bet the team will declare bankruptcy well before then.

Now, we ask you, is that any way to welcome Wade Miller?
For the record, we scouted Wade Miller for another job three years ago. Read all about it:

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Monday, September 09, 2013

A bitter question on the lips of Manitobans living under a dangerous government

What is racism?

Apparently that's the question on everybody's lips. You can't pick up a newspaper without reading somebody's opinion of what racism is.

That's funny because for more than 50 years nobody has had any doubt about what racism is. Children and adults, men and women knew without question that racism was prejudice against someone because of the colour of their skin. 
See?  Simple.
But now that we've discovered that Eric Robinson, the Deputy Premier of Manitoba, is a racist by that definition, journalists, academics, ethicists, commentators of all descriptions are racing to the ramparts to say it isn't so.
That we've been using the wrong definition of racism for more than half a century.  That the true definition is a Marxist interpretation of class and power relationships, not skin colour after all. That Indians--oops, natives --- oops, aboriginals, have reason to be prejudiced against whites and shouldn't be blamed if they do.  That there can't be racism against white people because they're the majority and you can't show racism against the majority skin colour. 
Racism, understand, by their definition, isn't all bad.

Today, we're waiting to see how the Manitoba Human Rights Commission defines racism. Are we ever.
You see, the chairman of the human rights commission is Jerry Woods, "a proud member of the Couchiiching First Nation."  In other words, he's aboriginal, just like Eric Robinson, against whom a formal complaint has been filed.
How he defines racism will determine if the old definition is valid regardless of who shows bias against whom, or whether we've entered Greg Selinger's Brave New World of Marxist Manitoba where class distinction is the only measure.

It's extremely sad, and equally frightening, to watch Robinson's defenders twist and turn the facts to try and accomodate his racist attitude towards whites.

A stark recital of the facts is in order.

*  In an exchange of emails with government employees, Eric Robinson sneered at  the "ignorance of do good white people." His email was never supposed to be seen by outsiders. It was part of a conversation of like-minded insiders in government.

The Legislature has been told that when the email was about to be released under a filing under the Freedom of Information Act, the deputy minister of Robinson's department blacked out the politically incendiary words. He cited a section of the Act permitting material to be redacted under certain circumstances, which, normally, would have ended the matter since how can you appeal to have released what you don't know is being hidden.

*  Except that the recipient of the FOI material did know.  She managed to decipher the blacked out wording.  It was obvious the censoring of the inflammatory comments was done to protect the boss. 

Three times she appealed to have the email released in its entirety, and each time, including personal appeals to Robinson, she was turned down.

Robinson was intent on hiding his opinion of white people from snoopers outside of government.

His defenders try to spin these facts to minimize Robinson's role. Premier Greg Selinger tried calling the racist email a private communication.  It wasn't. It was from a government minister to government staffers, written on government time on a government computer. 
Robinson certainly did his best to keep it private, that is, away from the eyes of anyone not in his government, and racial, circle. But those words coming from the minister, himself, makes them government policy.

*  When Robinson's words were finally exposed, he DID NOT apologize, contrary to what his defenders allege.  Robinson was first confronted with the email by a reporter for APTN---that's the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.  He told her he "absolutely" would not apologize, that he said what he meant, and "you and I know there's a lot of those types around." 

So, speaking to what he thought was his own kind, his own audience, he simply repeated the racist slur.

*  It was only the next day, when the story crossed over to the mainstream news outlets, that a statement was released, at 4:30 p.m. that Friday, over his name  which said "I did not mean to offend anyone with the words I used." 

Of course not, he didn't expect anyone outside of his staff members to read those words.
That's not an apology. 

The statement then acknowledged that after "discussion with the Premier, the words I chose in the moment were regrettable and for that I apologize." 

He apologized for using racist words, not for his racist attitude towards white people.  His defenders hope you don't see the difference.

*  Robinson has never apologized to the individuals he targeted with his prejudiced comments about "do good white people".  In fact, he's publicly said he has a right to be racist against whites because he's suffered racism.  We're waiting to see if the Human Rights Commission accepts that as a legitimate excuse for racism in Manitoba.

* Selinger has refused to discipline Robinson in any way. In fact, he's praised him and stated that Robinson is a Canadian hero for his activism.  The NDP caucus applauds Robinson's racism in the Legislature and thereby endorses selective racism in the province.

Robinson's language was not the childish sniggering of a nobody backbencher who accused an Opposition MLA of being homosexual, and who was excoriated by the Premier.  Robinson made a sneering remark intended to disparage and belittle whites.  Even the term do-good was used in a derogatory fashion demonstrating his prejudice against people with white skin.
You can see why his defenders are so adamant to redefine the word.

* Arthur Schafer, an "ethics" professor, excuses the racism of aboriginal Robinson as understandable. We're waiting for him to offer the same understanding to anti-semites.
Schafer and the other apologists for Robinson find racism excusable under certain circumstances. But does anybody want to explore those circumstances?
U.S. President Barack Obama has a white mother and a black father.  Can aboriginals be prejudiced against him on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and not for the rest of the week? 

Will Manitoba NDP programs require people to bring proof of their race to qualify for benefits? What percentage of white blood is acceptable before the Manitoba Human Rights Commission offers protection against prejudice?

This is not a joke. Did you ever think questions like these would be legitimate?  Did you ever think a government in Canada would endorse racism by its top leadership?  

We thought that was a page in the history books, Germany in the Thirties.

But here we are, in Greg Selinger's NDP Manitoba, discussing under what circumstances racism is permissible, acceptable, understandable, even warranted.

*  The shame is not on those beyond shame, Greg Selinger and Dave Chomiak, partisans who would do anything to get re-elected, including turning a blind eye to selective racism.

But what does NDP MLA Erin Selby tell her triplet daughters?  Selby can be seen bobbing her head in the daily broadcast of Question Period in full support of Selinger's twisted defences of Robinson's racism. 

Or Mohinder Saran, NDP MLA for the Maples, who issues news releases in support of the the annual March Against Racism conducted by Maples Collegiate. We can hardly wait to see his news release this coming school year. Maybe he'll call for renaming the March to March Against White Capitalist Oppressors. 

The greatest shame is on those journalists and community leaders, and human rights hypocrites who are silent in the face of this abominable government inaction. They should be leading the call for Robinson's removal from office, mandatory racial sensitivity training, a declaration that racism is unacceptable in Manitoba, period. 

Instead, there's silence from the opinion makers. For shame.

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Friday, September 06, 2013

The bizarre ideologies behind the Manitoba NDP's racism and attacks on women

Reeling from the revelation that an NDP cabinet minister put his racist beliefs down in writing,  the government of Manitoba went directly to Premier Greg Selinger's primary defences --- smear and intimidation.

But when the brave women on the board of Osborne House, the women's shelter that uncovered the racist email sent by Deputy Premier Eric Robinson, refused to buckle under Selinger's contemptible attacks, the NDP had to come up with a Plan B.

Plan Bwhen caught red-handed espousing racism, redefine racism. Problem solved.

A week ago Selinger claimed Robinson had apologized (he didn't) and the NDP caucus, including former journalist and perennial prop Erin Selby, cabinet ministers Flor Marcelino, Kevin Chief, and abused ex-wife Kerri Irwin-Ross, clapped like trained seals in support of Robinson's right to express his racism against white people as long as the public didn't find out about it.

This week, it was different. Why apologize when you did nothing wrong?

This week, NDP supporters were popping up like weeds to sniff that Robinson's critics got it all wrong---that Robinson couldn't be racist against white people--- because only white people can be racists.

99 percent of Manitobans, all races included, went "Whaaaaat?"

The NDP dredged up a retired old politician, Tim Sale, former Minister of Family Services, who, during his term in office,  was linked to more funding scandals than anyone but Greg Selinger, the dirtiest politician in the province.

"So let's get first things first. What is racism?" he wrote in an op-ed published in the Winnipeg Free Press.

"Racism is a set of beliefs and actions that use the power of some to oppress in fundamental ways a less powerful group, based on their race."

"...when a government-supported agency serving abused women decides to raise money using a burlesque show, which clearly treats women as sex objects, and anyone, including an aboriginal minister objects privately to a staff person that this is both inappropriate, and an example of "white do-gooders," he is simply stating a fact. His remark may be pejorative, perhaps even rude, but it cannot be classed as racist."

Sale might have had a stronger argument is he bothered to get his facts right. 

Robinson's email was not "private."  He, himself, said it was "internal between myself and some staff members."

It was, in other words, official business. 

And he did not comment on "white do-gooders" as Tim Sale claims. Robinson wrote about "the ignorance of do good white people."  He introduced race.

To generations of Canadians who had been taught that racism was prejudice against other people because of their skin colour, this redefinition literally came out of nowhere. 
But, a few days later, up popped a bona fide academic to buttress Tim Sale's brand new definition of racism.

"What is racism?" asked David Camfield, who the Winnipeg Free Press described as 'an associate professor in the labour studies program at the University of Manitoba, where he teaches a course on racism and work.'

"Once we understand what racism is, we can see that in Canada today white people do not experience racism -- on the contrary. White people as a group are not oppressed on the basis of their so-called race."


"No one denies some individuals who aren't white may have hostile attitudes to white people (given racism and colonialism past and present, is this any surprise?). The important point is such prejudices don't carry a lot of punch in a society in which white people as a group aren't oppressed. Such attitudes aren't manifestations of racism."


"Once we take a step back and see Robinson's email in this larger context, it's obvious the allegations of racism against him are wrong and misguided."

See?  You can't be racist to white people.  Eric Robinson can insult white people all he wants and it's not racist. 

Who is the academic proposing this revolutionary new definition of racism?  It took seconds to find out. Google is your friend.

David Camfield is a proud Marxist who edits the New Socialist Webzine. Here's a snippet of an article he wrote:

"Working-class rule can only come into existence through a social revolution that puts ordinary people in genuine control of society through new, radically democratic institutions – socialist democracy. Historically, socialist democracy has only been established briefly and on a local or regional scale, with one important and tragically short-lived exception: the Russian Revolution."

By "short-lived", he means  Russian Communism just after the revolution, and ending in the Twenties.  Ahh, the good old days of collectivism and mass murder.

More?  How about this abstract from a paper he published:

"In order to conduct better class analysis, we need class theory that rises to the challenge of understanding class as a structured social process and relationship taking place in historical time and specific cultural contexts. The study of working classes as historical formations requires the replacement of underdeveloped concepts with theory adequate to the task. This theory should incorporate the knowledge that class never exists outside of other social relations such as gender and race, but is always mediated by those relations, and vice versa. Marx, Gramsci, Thompson and autonomist Marxism, enriched with the appreciation of the multidimensional nature of social being produced by feminism and other perspectives arising from struggles against oppression, provide important resources for the development of such a theory."
Yup. That defender of anti-white racism is a Marxist of the first order. Now you can understand where this redefinition of racism, with its emphasis on oppression and overthrowing the capitalist world order, comes from.

But that wasn't all.

A Google search turned up Camfield at something called The Fort Garry Lectures in History, Department of History, University of Manitoba, at which he introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. David R. Roediger, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Roediger's keynote address was titled "How Whiteness Travels: Recent Studies Beyond and Within the United States." 

Yes, Roediger is an expert on Whiteness. 

You remember Whiteness. You read about it here first in The Black Rod.

That's the academic theory that white people are privileged because they make all the rules, and no matter how much they try not to be oppressors, they can't help being oppressors blah, blah blah. 

Or, simply,  White people bad. 

You can bet Camfield wasn't introducing speaker Roediger because he disagreed with him.

So, Robinson's academic defender is a flaming Marxist with a taste for Whiteness theory.

That rang a bell.

You see Eric Robinson wrote his racist opinion as a reply to an email he received from one particular government staffer, Nahanni Fontaine. We've been writing about Nahanni Fontaine for a long time now. 

Way back in 2008, for example, we outed her cop-bashing research partner, Elizabeth Comack, yet another university of Manitoba professor, who boasted of her Marxist roots.

You see where this is going. We kept digging.

We didn't have to dig far to uncover Nahanni Fontaine's interview with the Freedom Socialist Party of Australia.  The what...?

"We're revolutionary feminists, both women and men, who are organising to replace capitalism with an environmentally sustainable socialist society — free of sexism, racism, homophobia — based on planning and workers democracy."

Yeah, them.

It was Fontaine's companion who caught our eye.  None other than Leslie Spillett, who is, among other things, a recent appointee of the NDP to Winnipeg's new police board.

The Freedom Socialist Party of Australia loved them.

"Leslie sees that “the lack of political analysis” in many First Nations communities is “a really big problem.” We need to start talking about capitalism, imperialism and globalisation and how these things have impacted us.”

She reflects, “the children in Chiapas haven’t set foot in a school, but they know more about political and economic systems than we do, because they have an analysis of what’s relevant to their lives and they have some consciousness of race and class.”

Back here in Manitoba, Spillett has also been an advocate of aboriginal apartheid. 

Until they redefine that word, apartheid means separating people by race.

"Unless aboriginal people take over their own child welfare, Manitoba can expect 20,000 kids in care 20 years from now, said Leslie Spillett, executive director of Ka Ni Kanichihk Inc., an urban aboriginal social development agency. "We have to be in charge of ourselves," said Spillett."

"Most funding goes to four, big non-aboriginal agencies that serve mostly aboriginal people, said Spillett, the former clinical director at New Directions, the biggest of the four agencies. She'd prefer a "parallel development" funding model such as New Zealand's, where indigenous Maori organizations receive 80 per cent of the funding for Maori people, who use 80 per cent of the services."

Yep, separate but equal. We haven't heard that argument since the civil rights battles in the early Sixties.

Of course,  that was before racism got redefined by the NDP and Martin Luther King's definition got tossed out with the trash.

So we have a government minister sharing racist views with other government employees in an email he never thought would be discovered by the public. Coming to his defence, the entire government caucus literally cheers and applauds racism by their government officials, an ethics professor makes excuses for racism, and an academic redefines the word until it means that racism against white people is impossible. 

Mix in the white-bashing ideology of Whiteness and capitalist-bashing ideology of Marxism and you have the toxic philosophies driving NDP policy in Manitoba today.

Did you ever think you would live in a world where
- institutional racism was the policy of the government of the day,  
- journalists defended the racist government instead of challenging and exposing its wickedness, 
- university professors help redefine language to justify racism

Welcome to Greg Selinger's Manitoba.

And we weren't even finished exploring the jungle yet.
We came across Nahanni Fontaine's masters thesis.

"I choose post-colonial and feminist theory to form the core or the foundation of my research because I believe that for women oppressed by the patriarchal system and for indigenous societies colonized by Western powers they provide a sound mechanism at getting to one's own historical, social, political, gendered and spiritual truth. It provides researchers (or for anyone who is engaged in critical thought for that matter) the authority to question, challenge and dismiss Western patriarchal hegemonic ideals and legislative policies that seek, in my opinion, to repress alternative views about the condition of contemporary society and its causes."

In it Fontaine specifically thanks one of her mentors.

"Dr. Susan Heald's teachings and discussions have provided me with a new insight and a deeper in-depth analysis which has carried itself over from academia into the realm of politics and into the socio-cultural realm of my existence."

Who is Dr.Susan Heald?  She teaches in Womens Studies at the University of Manitoba.
  We checked and discovered she's big on post-structural feminism, one of the fringe branches of feminism out there.

Eyes glaze over.
We did research on post-structural feminism,  so you didn't have to. 

It's too obtuse to go into in much detail but here's a few highlights:

* Men oppress women
* Words oppress women.  Any word describing women is oppressive because it carries connotations of submission and subservience to men because men define those words to their advantage
* Even being a woman oppresses women. Society needs to eliminate the concept of gender entirely or else women will continue to be oppressed simply by being defined as a woman.


There's even a subset of poststructural feminists---Queer theory "feminists"---who argue that people are products of "social construction" and "open to revision."  These are the ones arguing against heterosexuality as the "norm".

Poststructural feminists are the arch-enemies of post-feminists, sometimes called sex positive feminists. 
The latter are modern women who have rejected the strident anti-male, humourless and hairy feminists of the Seventies.  Instead, they like being women; they like dressing up, wearing nice shoes and make-up, and attracting the attention of men (as long as they have the ultimate say in how far a relationship goes). 

They find their sexuality empowering and they express themselves in sexy outfits, bikinis, belly-dancing and, yes, burlesque.

Here, you see, is where the NDP's (and Tim Sale's) sudden concern about burlesque comes from.

Shrill post-structural feminists have become the voice of the NDP in its attack on women.

Marxism, Whiteness, Aboriginal Apartheid, anti-gender Poststructural feminism. 

These are the bizarre ideologies driving policy in Greg Selinger's NDP.

Ideologies the NDP caucus wants to keep hidden from public view.

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