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:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sex on the Hill. The who, what, where and when.

NDP M.P. Christine Moore and CBC Radio host Jian Gomeshi have one thing in common. 

They both thought they could deflect blame in a sex scandal by admitting a sexual indiscretion before it was known publicly. 

Both were wrong.

Gomeshi tried to get ahead of a newspaper investigation into allegations of rough sex on his part.  He published a blog post admitting to a predeliction for S&M.  The post contributed to his firing from the CBC.

In the wake of the Gomeshi affair, Moore shifted the national debate on sexual harassment to Parliament Hill as a cesspit of rapacious politicians and staff preying on innocent young girls working in the political sphere. 

When Liberal leader Justin Trudeau championed her never-explained complaint against Liberal M.P. Massimo Pacetti, she managed to go unnamed. But eventually Moore could see the pressure growing for her to shed her anonymity and go public with her allegations. 

So she went on a press tour this week, telling her story in  interviews with The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Huffington post, the National Post, QMI, and CBC, on condition they didn't reveal her identity. Everything went swimmingly as long as the national media repeated her carefully crafted contention that she had sex with Pascetti "without expicit consent." 

But everything went south with the disclosure that she was so reluctant to have sex that night that she provided Pascetti with the condom he used to do the dirty deed. Suddenly the meme of sexual harassment, transmuted into the tawdry one-night-stand it always was. (Tawdry because Pascetti is married, and Moore didn't care.)

Christine Moore was fingered (no double entendre intended) by Frank magazine three weeks ago, and everybody in the Parliamentary press gallery knows she's the one behind the Pascetti complaint. So why keep her name a secret? Given the fact that her secret complaint has ruined Pascetti's career, his reputation, and likely his marriage, it's in the public interest to know who she is and what she says happened.

Moore didn't start out to destroy Pascetti. The story goes that she pigeon-holed Trudeau after the funeral for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was murdered Oct. 22 by a Muslim terrorist storming Parliament Hill. She wanted to tell him in private about the harassment a colleague of hers was getting from a Liberal M.P. (not Pacetti) and to get Trudeau's help to stop it.

(Moore had a special reason for attending the funeral---she had served three years in the army before being elected to Parliament.)

But Moore showed her political naivete when she approached Trudeau. She didn't understand that this wasn't the same as complaining to a teacher about some spurned boy's clumsy attempts at winning back a girlfriend.  Politics is a blood sport. The penalty for imprudence is not detention; it's summary execution.

Trudeau asked the Liberal party whip to meet with the NDP party whip to get more details about the alleged sexual harassment. It was during a meeting of the whips with the women behind the harassment complaint, that Moore chose to support her colleague by mentioning her own seduction by another silver-tongued Liberal M.P. With that, she signed Pascetti's political death warrant.

Trudeau suspended Montreal MP Massimo Pacetti and Newfoundland MP Scott Andrews from the Liberal caucus for "serious personal misconduct", but without telling the public, or them, any of the allegations against them.  NDP leader Tom Mulcair revealed that the complaints against the pair came from two of his members.

But since no formal complaint had been filed either with the police or Parliament, the accusers were not named, and the accused didn't know exactly what they were accused of doing. The two men were in limbo.And eventually press and pundits proclaimed that the situation was unfair, that the men should either be reinstated or their alleged crimes be specified by their accusers.

Moore, seeing the writing on the wall, tried controlling the growing storm with selected leaks.  

She told reporters she and Pascetti were members of a sports league and after an event last March they were having drinks at a pub until 2 a.m. when he invited her to his hotel room residence when attending Parliament for a nightcap. 

Vague enough for you?

Given that Moore is a proud sponsor of the Temiscaming Titans, members of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League, and Pacetti is a former hockey coach, we're guessing it was a hockey game that brought them together.

In the room, Pascetti put the moves on her, she said, but she resolved to leave. Exactly when the condom came out, and on, isn't clear from the stories written by friendly reporters.

One side effect of Moore's press tour, was flushing out some details of the complaint against Scott Andrews which precipitated the focus on the Hill sex scandals.

The story, as related by unnamed sources, is that the NDP member (identified by Frank Magazine as Alexandrine Latendresse) was at some "social event" on Parliament Hill where she met up with the Hill bad boys, Andrews and Pacetti.

The trio left the event to go to Pacetti's office where more wine swilling occurred. Pacetti said nighty-night, and the Liberal and NDP members were alone. There was a connection, or at least, one of them thought so.

The story now fast-forwards to Latendresse's home.  Andrews (yes, he's married, too) followed her home, said the sources quoted in the National Post.

He  "forced his way through her door, pushed her against a wall, groped her and ground his pelvis against her. She ordered him to leave. He did. Afterwards, sources say the woman alleges that Andrews repeatedly verbally harassed her, calling her a "cockteaser."

Seeing that this happened "within the past six months", its possible Trudeau was told that the harassment had continued that long. The indication is that Moore went to Trudeau to get him to tell Andrews to knock it off, but without making a big deal about it.

There's no contention that the complaint against Andrews is payback for a letter he wrote to the Speaker of the House in March, calling for an investigation of possible violations of election spending rules by the NDP.

In August, the Board of Internal Economy found that the NDP broke election law when they used funding intended to cover only the salaries of employees involved in duties related to the work of MP's in Parliament to pay staff who did constituency or partisan work.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stickhandling won't save Selinger this time. Is his end sooner than expected?

So Greg Selinger lied to the public, lied to the Legislature, and lied to the press.
Since when is this news?

Why do you think we call him the dirtiest politician in Manitoba?

Even the most recalcitrant taxpayers caught on to his lying ways when he broke his (useless) word, during the last provincial election campaign, not to raise the provincial sales tax. He also openly broke the law to do it. Then he lied about why he lied, coming up with a new excuse for why he had to raise the PST as quickly as an old one was disproved.

Now he's admitted another lie, but only because he got caught dead to rights by CJOB.

In 2012 when it was revealed that NDP MLA's were gorging themselves on free tickets from public utilities and a raft of private groups to see the Winnipeg Jets, Selinger pretended to care.

He told the MLA's to pay back the cost of their freebies, to apologize to the people, and to promise not to do it again.  He failed to mention that he was among those at the trough for free tickets.

(Believe it or not, The Black Rod believed Selinger was  lying even back then:
MONDAY, MAY 14, 2012
Premier Greg Selinger isn't talking about his free Jets ticket
When Premier Greg Selinger released a list of 13 NDP MLA's who got free tickets to Winnipeg Jets games he forgot one name -- his own.)

On Wednesday, he remembered that, oh yeah, he did watch a Jets game on a free ticket. But, he reasoned lamely, it wasn't really free because five weeks later he made a charitable donation to a group that had nothing to do with the Jets, the arena, or, well, hockey in any way, shape or form. See, all cleared up.

Uh. Nope.

This time everybody knows he's lying. They know it because the news outlets are citing Hansard from May 9, 2012, when Selinger was asked specifically about taking free tickets:

 Mr. McFadyen: And so I just - I need to ask the Premier, and I think he knows I need to ask the question: I know he had the opportunity to attend games, did he have any tickets provided to him that he didn't pay for personally?
Mr. Selinger: No.

That was a lie, we know now.  Selinger attended a game on Dec. 29, 2011, on a "ticket provided to him that he didn't pay for personally." 

Selinger was the guest of Ken Cheveldayoff, a Saskatchewan MLA and, it just so happens, the brother of Kevin Cheveldayoff, executive vice president and general manager of the Winnipeg Jets.

Now, do you think that Kevin is so chintzy that he's not going to comp his own brother?  He's going to make his brother buy a couple of tickets on the VISA, but let him sit in the MTS Centre's private box so those pricey tix go to waste?  Puh-lease.

Ken got a couple of freebies and, God knows why, took Greg Selinger with him.  Selinger says he offered to pay for his ticket, but Ken C. said to forget it.  Of course he did. What? He's going to get comped tickets, then sell one of them for beer money?

Selinger says Ken told him to make a donation somewhere instead of paying for the Jets ticket.  And that's what Selinger said he did -- five weeks later he "made a donation of $300 to Friends Housing Inc."

Here's the problem -- Friends Housing has no connection with the Winnipeg Jets! Or Ken Cheveldayoff. 

The only way Selinger could pay back the cost of his free ticket was to write a cheque to either of those two,  the team that sells the tickets or the person who provided him with the ticket.

Friends Housing is a third party with no relationship to either. So any donation to them does not benefit the Jets, which is the purpose of selling tickets in the first place, or to Ken C., who could legitimately claim ownership of the ticket used by Selinger. 

If Selinger had made a donation in Ken's name to a charity and sent Ken the receipt, then maybe he would be off the hook, provided, of course, that the cost sitting in the MTS Centre private box is $300 and that's a true price.

Greg Selinger made a personal donation to a non-profit organization. It was not repayment for a free ticket provided to him; the person who took him to the Jets game didn't even know about the donation.

The more serious offence is Selinger's statement intended deliberately to mislead the Legislature.

That is contempt.

Following the Throne Speech today, Oppositon Leader Brian Pallister must make a motion to hold Selinger in contempt of the Legislature for his lie. 

He has to do it Thursday, because previous rulings in the Legislature on the issue say such a matter must be raised "at the earliest opportunity" or be dismissed.

If the Speaker rejects the motion (to refer the contempt to the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs), the Opposition could ask the House to overrule him. He may count on the votes of the five rebel NDP MLA's who have challenged Selinger's leadership.  He may flush out others in the NDP caucus who support the rebels, and who would have a way to open up an internal campaign to replace Selinger as leader. Can you say Christine Melnick, who was thrown under the bus by Selinger for lying to the Legislature?

And speaking of the rebellion against Selinger, who was it that leaked the Jets story?  Of the Gang of Five, three (Stan Struthers, Andrew Swan and Erin Selby) were among the 13 shamed for taking free tickets to Jets games.
We're betting on Swan who got no sugar from Selinger during the ticket scandal in '12. Revenge is sweet.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Brian Bowman as Mayor. Day One -- Promise Number One. Broken.

Brian Bowman has set a new record for the shortest time spent by a mayor before breaking a major election promise.

Even disgraced Mayor Sam Katz waited a few months before revealing to voters that they had been suckered by his stance while campaigning against Judy Wasylycia-Leis against raising propery taxes.

Bowman on Tuesday hadn't even been sitting in the Mayor's chair long enough to warm it up before he announced that his vaunted promise to let city council elect the members of the powerful executive policy committee was null and void.

And, like a weasley lawyer, he came prepared with an excuse for why he couldn't do the very thing he had been telling voters for months that he would do.  He blamed somebody else. Actually, he blamed pretty much everybody else except himself.

He blamed the law. It had to be amended by the provincial government, and he would get right on that. He blamed the city administration which broke the news to him that a council election was forbidden.  And he blamed his advisors for giving him bad advice.

What he failed to do was say what the City of Winnipeg Charter actually reads:

Mayor's appointments
59(1) At the first meeting of council after a general election, the mayor must appoint
(a) a deputy mayor;
(b) an acting deputy mayor;
(c) the chairpersons for the standing committees of council, if such committees are established by council; and
(d) members of the executive policy committee of council under clause 61(1)(c), if any.
Executive policy committee established
61(1) There shall be an executive policy committee of council composed of
(a) the mayor, who is the chairperson of the committee;
(b) the chairpersons of the standing committees of council, if any such committees are established; and
(c) any other members of council appointed by the mayor.

Hmmm. Nothing that would ban the mayor from holding a vote to gauge the will of council over who should sit on EPC before he appointed the members.

So much for 'change' and 'can do' spirit at City Hall.  Instead of showing bold leadership, Bowman showed the limited mindset of a lawyer who is looking for reasons why he can't do what he promised.

Worse, is how easily the city administration made him their puppet.  This is the same administration that's rejected all criticism over the egregious mismanagement, if not actual corruption, behind the series of city construction projects that plagued Katz's last years in office. Bowman showed how easily he can be controlled.

Bowman's first act as mayor was to prove his ignorance of how the city works. 

If he continues on this path, he will quickly grow frustrated, like all Gen Xers who don't get their way.  Then he'll quit because 'this isn't fun anymore.'

Memo to Robert Falcon Oullette:  keep your election signs. You may be dusting them off for a byelection in a few years.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Explaining the worst political party revolt ever, in one word.

Let's play charades.  We'll start.
Four  words.

Washing hands.
Wringing.  Washing.  Soap.

Dirty hands.


Okay, next word.

Stripper pole.



No.  Start over.  Vote.  Voting.  Ballot.

Oh, Pole-itics.

Next word.



Everywhere?   Map.



Dirtiest Politician in Manitoba!


Do we win?  

No. With Greg Selinger, everbody loses.

In less than a week,  the Dipper Follies has become the best show in town, with everyone glued to their radio and television sets for the latest twist and turn.

What melodrama!   Five dissident MLA's.  Careers on the line. Stare-downs. Ultimatums. Veilled threats of retaliation.  A resignation expected yesterday, today, tomorrow.

Like Scandal, the TV show? No, more like NDP Friends, with Stan Struthers in the Joey role.
The dissidents are called the Rebel Five in the press. It sounds like a rockabilly band.  Suddenly, in the eyes of the pundits, the gang-of-five are the hip kids in school;  the last time that happened to them was, like, never.
For those who tuned in late, here's a recap what the foofarah is all about:  five NDP cabinet ministers say that NDP Premier Greg Selinger doesn't listen to them.  He's mean and they'll never, ever get back together.  (Apologies to Taylor Swift.)

What?  You thought there was more?

For all the strum-und-drang in the news, that's it?

It almost makes you think ... this whole thing ... is a.. 


We predicted three years ago, almost to the day, that Greg Selinger would be gone before the next provincial election:

By the next election, Greg Selinger will be 64. Unless he intends to be a Premier collecting an old-age pension, he will hand off the leadership of the NDP by then to a new generation and the NDP can present themselves as a renewed and refreshed government for reelection.

The playbook laid it out:  the leader resigns, a leadership convention is held just before an election is called, Kevin Chief becomes the new face of a fresh, shiny new party facing down a tired, old Opposition lead by a retread has-been.

But that was before the vaunted NDP machine imploded:
- A major broken promise in raising the provincial sales tax to 8 percent. 
- A string of billion-dollar deficits.  
- The bottom of the barrel in education and health measures. 
- An openly racist cabinet member applauded by his caucus. 
- Internal polls show the party is in "annihilation" territory.

An orderly transition of power is no longer viable. According to the "sources" feeding the Winnipeg Free Press,  that public is fed up with the NDP. So how to achieve the same goal, but in a different way?
Step One.  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. 

Run against your own party.  Or, at least make it appear you're running against your own party.

Have you noticed that the Rebel Five are hardly rebelling against anything? They quit their cabinet posts, but plan to stay in the NDP caucus.  They will support the NDP in the Legislature, vote for NDP bills, and they plan to run as NDP candidates in the next election.

They're not even against the increase in PST.  

Struthers, as Finance Minister, happily introduced it and defended it, they all voted for it.  Their only beef, as we understand it, is that they didn't get to build a case for raising the tax before imposing it.  In other words, if you, the hoi polloi, only understood why the NDP raised the PST, you would support them.

They also hint that mean Mr. Selinger won't listen to them. 

About what? They won't say.

Step Two.  So, essentially, their "rebellion" is a PR campaign to allegedly pit them against Greg Selinger, to, ahem, "force" Selinger to quit so that the party can elect a new leader.  A "new" leader who supported the same Selinger policies for the past five years.  In a nutshell, a new face on the same policies.

This is straight out of the Saul Alinsky playbook.  We explained how that works here:

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

The "rebels" have identified Greg Selinger as the target. You don't want the voters taking out their frustration on the entire NDP. With the Rebel Five, acting as voter surrogates, attacking Selinger, they can focus public antagonism on him, and bleed off that antagonism when he resigns (which he will).

Step ThreeA blood sacrifice is the only thing that will satisfy the mob.

Selinger is a good soldier. He will fall on his sword for the good of the cause.  He knows somebody has to take the hit to mollify the angry public. He will jump on the grenade if that's what it takes.

Selinger was behind the vile, gutter politics of the 2011 campaign. Only hard-core NDP voters aren't repulsed by him today. He's the perfect villain for an internal "revolt."  Semper Fi.

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