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:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

An invisible Eagle picked toddler Wab Kinew to change the world

People who have been mocking the NDP's tarnished star candidate, Wab Kinew, better watch out. They don't know who they're messing with.

Wab is a man on a mission.  

A divine mission.  

We know 'cause he told us so.  

Well, not us exactly, but Alberta Native News in March 2012, with more details in his pre-politics memoir.

It seems that when he was three years old, or maybe it was four, Wab had a vision.

He was in his bedroom, where all good three-year-olds should be at night, and he started to hallucinate.  He saw an eagle. 

It's always an eagle. It's never a magnificent Canada goose or a perky red-breasted robin. No, it's got to be an eagle. In this case, a Golden eagle.

Before the eagle, though, little Wab saw a pipe ("It was beautiful") with four eagle feathers hanging from it fastened by brass tacks. The eagle swooped down to grab the pipe in its claws.  "The scenery faded" but Wab could still see the eagle in his bedroom, flapping its wings.

He knew he had had a vision and so did his father and so did the medicine man his father took him to. The medicine man told Wab's dad to bring him back within a month, and when he did Wab was given a handcrafted pipe and told that, from then on, he was a pipekeeper, a prestigious role among Anishinaabe people.

From that moment Wab Kinew knew he was destined for greatness.

"His calling to a powerful destiny that would impact the lives of many was confirmed and his family started grooming him for his life purpose." wrote Alberta Native News writer Brandi Morin. 

It doesn't take much to get him to talk how he walks in the footsteps of men like Martin Luther King and Louis Riel, with the implication that he will be among their ranks. 

And women swoon in his presence. 

Take Brandi Morin for one, with this tweet:

Brandi Morin
My new crush is Wab Kinew @WabKinew OMG he's like a real life freakin' Super Hero! *drool- Come rescue this Damsel in distress too plz =)
6:13 AM - 10 Feb 2012

So it must have been a jolt when he entered politics and found that people didn't automatically gush over him like Brandi did.

Before announcing his bid for office he analyzed his vulnerabilities and zeroed in on the lyrics to his rap songs which degraded women

*  To get the jump on critics, at the Aboriginal Music Awards where he won an award for best hiphop CD, he apologized for such hurtful songs, and urged other hip hop artists to change their lyrics too. 

*  And he apologized in his memoir, in two sentences shoehorned into the very back of the book.  

*  And when the issue was raised in the election campaign, he apologized again.

*  And when his tweets containing slurs against gay men were discovered, he apologized. 

*  And tweets that body shamed overweight girls, you guessed it, he apologized. 

The only thing he hasn't apologized for is running over a cat with his car and joking about it. (The cat lived, though he broke its legs.)

Through it all, Kinew has known he was born to lead, just as the eagle said. 

In fact, he'll be the first to tell you.

"I hope over the course of this campaign and over the course of my career ... I prove to people I'm not just the indigenous guy. I hope that people recognize that I'm a leader," he said in a Canadian Press interview.

As for people who didn't recognize his brilliance, well "I think we all know where this stuff is coming from..." he said as he pulled the race card from his sleeve. 

If you don't forgive Wab Kinew and stop attacking his character, you're obviously a racist, was the clear implication intended to silence his critics.

But, eagle aside, Wab Kinew has shown little leadership that wasn't calculated carefully in advance.

He told CJOB he intended to fight bigotry. But he stands side-by-side in public appearances with NDP cabinet minister Eric Robinson, the biggest self-confessed bigot in Manitoba. 

Robinson fought off critics of his openly admitted racism against white people by inventing an exception to prejudice on the basis of colour --- white people have privilege because they're white, so it's okay for non-whites to be prejudiced against them.  

A weekend column by Gordon Sinclair in the Winnipeg Free Press showed another opportunity to show leadership that was missed by Kinew.

Only two weeks earlier, the taxi industry had been under attack by aboriginal women, backed by the Southern Chiefs Organization, amid allegations of racism and sexual harassment.

The CBC highlighted one disputed area:
"Some aboriginal people said they feel discriminated against because they're asked to provide cash deposits up front.

"The cabbies said they'll make that request if they worry a passenger will skip out without paying, no matter what their racial background may be. 

"I'll get that thrown in my face — 'You're only asking me for cash because I'm Indian,'" (a driver) said.

Sinclair, delving into Kinew's memoir, noted Kinew had been arrested years ago for assaulting a cab driver who tried to stop him from refusing to pay a fare.

That said, he could have gone public, admitting his prior actions had contributed to the suspicions that cab drivers have about aboriginal customers.

 He could have said that there is validity to both sides and tried to de-escalate the conflict. 

But he didn't. 

Shown the opportunity, he chose to be a one-trick pony. 

He chose to be, in his own words, "just the indigenous guy."

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Et tu, Wab?

Fresh off his 'Homos, Ho's, 'n Bitches' Apology Tour, ex-rapper Wab Kinew is about to break in a new act --- pulling his knife out of Greg Selinger's back, with a smile.

Selinger is just over a month away from going down in history as the man who took Manitoba's New Democratic Party over the cliff with him to humiliating defeat because of his conceit and hubris.  The beginning of their mutual end is universally traced to Selinger's decision to raise the provincial sales tax one point to 8 percent from 7 percent in 2013.

Among the masses throwing brickbats at Selinger back then was one Wab Kinew -- an employee of  the University of Winnipeg with a degree in economics -- who took to Twitter to express his  opposition to the NDP's surprise tax hike.

How does raising the Pst help grow the economy? How is a tax which takes a proportionally bigger slice of poorer peoples' incomes fair?


That was before Selinger hand-picked him to be the party's star candidate in the 2016 provincial election. But Kinew's shine was tarnished almost from the start once people learned of his penchant for rapping songs that degraded women and his Tweets which included body shaming jokes at girls and slurs at gays.

Okay, you've got me,  but I've changed, he'd boast (with a smirk on his face). I know the error of my ways.  
I'm Feminist Wab now and I'm really really sorry for what I said when I was Hiphop Wab

NDP leader Greg Selinger would nod sagely at his boy.
But will voters be as forgiving for Econo Wab, whose political flip-flops just keep on coming. 

The PST? 
He was against it -- before he was for it.

Greg Selinger? 
Loves him.  

Those poor people hurt by the PST?  

The higher sales tax has taken $5000 away from the average Manitoba household so far, a factoid determined to be True by Global News factcheckers.  

The damage to the poorest Manitobans is proportionally worsesomething even Econo Wab knew in 2013.

Will the new Wab Kinew go on the road for Apology Tour II? Tickets at NDP constituency offices, PST added for your own good.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Not so fast, Police Chief Devon Clunis. We're still waiting for an answer.

He's retiring?

Winnipeg Police Chief Devon "Mack Daddy" Clunis is retiring?

How old is he? It seems he just started in his job and he's taking a flyer already?

Clunis is about 52 and he got the job as police chief barely 3 1/2 years ago.  That means he was 48 when hired, so whoever hired him had every reason to believe he would stick around for a long time.

Especially given all the big talk from Clunis when he started the job.  He was going to literally change the culture of policing in Winnipeg.  Police weren't going to be crime fighters so much as social workers, offering soft shoulders to cry on, strong arms to gather the broken, and sympathetic ears to hear the chorus of sad stories. Blah blah blah.

If you listen to Mack Daddy today, he's done all that. Mission accomplished, he said when announcing his departure. Sick healed. Blind seeing. Lame walking. Geez, the guys a candidate for Christ as his next job.

Oh, and he wants to spend more time with his wife.  Yeah, like we haven't heard that one before.

What was that all about? If he knew he wasn't going to stick around more than a few years, why take the job?  Was it to pad out the pension? Well, that won't fuel more cynicism of public servants, will it?

* When he was hired, the Winnipeg Free Press warned that he didn't have many qualifications. He has a divinity degree and had been the police chaplain. He had experience in the vice unit, traffic division and community service, hardly the hard crime-fighting fronts of police work.

"He has minimal experience in serious crime investigation, or in finance and administration. These are serious shortcomings, particularly at a time when the city is trying to control the escalating costs of policing, which represents 25 per cent of the city's budget." wrote the FP in a prescient editorial.

The knock is that Clunis is leaving because the new police board wants to start chopping the police budget, and with it staffing by as much as 80 police officers. 

He denies it, but a social worker always wants to spend more and not less.

* Clunis never worked his biggest strength. As a preacher he could have preached that the biggest root cause of crime is the refusal to accept the difference between right and wrong. Instilling the moral value of right over wrong is a more powerful deterrent to crime than a policeman on every block; it's a policeman in every heart.  

But social workers pride themselves on not judging. So, instead, they enable.

Mack Daddy got his nickname from his policy on street prostitution. He talked about wanting the working girls off the streets, but he did more than anybody to keep them there. He formed a special unit to do nothing but ride around and make friends with hookers and suggest they get another line of work. 

At last count the measure of the unit was one dead hooker (Tina Fontaine) and two claiming they might be interested in getting out of the biz.  Seriously, no joke. That's it.

* Clunis' finest hour was standing up to I'M-MARTY-MORANTZ-AND-I'M-A-LAWYER. 

As a newly elected councillor, Moranz tried to browbeat a senior police official at a committee hearing. The officer politely informed the shrill Moranz that the police reported to the new police board, not city council. Moranz tried to intimidate the officer but only demonstrated what a fool he was.

Clunis took Mayor Brian Bowman by the ear to the woodshed the next day. After a mano-a-mano talking to, Bowman learned his position in the pecking order in no uncertain terms. He took Morantz into his office for a good spanking before both of them offered a grovelling explanation to the press that, yes, the police official was right, Morantz was stupid and wrong, and that disrespect for the police would never happen again. Morantz was not allowed to open his mouth.

* Clunis' darkest moment was his cowardice four months ago over the killing of 24-year old Mark DiCesare who was surrounded by a veritable army of gun-toting police officers and blasted to death in an empty field in River Heights.

Clunis refused to answer the single most important question about the incident--- did the man have a gun? He was surrounded by 20-30 policemen, the officers armed with an assortment of weapons ranging from Glock pistols to pepper spray, to batons. He had no chance of escape. 

The only reason to kill him was if he had a gun? Did he?

The police department refuses to say.


Because if he did not have a gun, then this case should have already been turned over to homicide investigators from another police force.

Did Clunis, the chaplain, meet with Mark DiCesare's mother and offer condolences for his death? Or is he headed for the exit before this case is resolved.

It must not be allowed to turn into a repeat of the police shooting of Craig McDougall, the 26-year-old man shot by police in 2008. The authorities have managed to stall the mandatory inquest into McDougalls' death at the hands of police for EIGHT YEARS. His family is still waiting for answers. The McDougall inquest might start in August.

Will Clunis give Mark DiCesare's family an answer before he skips out the door to enjoy his fat pension and his time with his wife?

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Monday, March 07, 2016

Song Shocker: Reporter says NDP star sang about punching a woman

It isn't until paragraph 20 of the 23-paragraph story by Canadian Press writer Chinta Puxley that the bombshell drops.

"In one song, Kinew raps about hitting women in the face with both a fist and his genitalia," wrote Puxley. (Manitoba Liberal candidate resigns over derogatory tweets about women, by The Canadian Press, March 3, 2016)

The Manitoba Liberal is a nobody already forgotten. Kinew, as everyone in Manitoba knows by now, is Wab Kinew, the provincial NDP's star candidate in the coming provincial election. 

For almost a week he's been  trying to deflect attention from rap songs that he wrote and performed as recently as a few years ago which were peppered with demeaning references to women (whore, bitch, cunt and slut).

The heat went up when someone discovered a line in a song about casually killing a homosexual. "Probably smoke you while I'm taking a drag. That's the treatment for a blatant little fag like you." 

Kinew instantly amended his public statements to add that he was against homophobic lyrics, too.

But only Puxley's story from March 3 links Kinew's raps with violence against women. Shades of Jian Ghomeshi.

She doesn't name the song, or cite the complete lyric. Her observation has gone unreported in the local mainstream media---the CBC, CTV News, Global, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Winnipeg Sun. 

But who's going to challenge a female reporter's accuracy about something like this? Wab? He's rushed to take Youtube videos of his performances out of circulation in the past few days so nobody can hear his songs for themselves.  

Is he praying nobody else discovers his lyrics about hurting a woman?

A Twitter account seemingly did: 
"Pick up the pace n pound her with semen on face they found her"

Since the scandal of Kinew's songwriting career erupted last week, he has been trying to suck and blow on the issue at the same time. 

Kinew, his defenders rush to point out, has "taken ownership" of his failings and has apologized and promised to change his way, even to lead the struggle against misogynist attitudes towards women. However his epiphany about calling women  insulting names happened to coincide with his musings about running for public office, first for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, then for the federal Liberals, and eventually for the NDP in Manitoba, so cynicism is in order.

He's rushed to cite his two previous stabs at apology (a challenge to rappers at the 2014 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards to abandon misogynist lyrics, and a couple of sentences in his 2015 memoir saying my bad). But as the issue refused to die down, he added a recorded mea culpa on radio station CJOB and a public letter in the form of a written statement of contrition to election volunteers.

He hasn't, however, disowned the album that won him a best rap CD award at an earlier Aboriginal Peoples Choice ceremony.  

On the contrary. He's so proud of the music that made him an award-winning rapper that even today he brags about it in every CV, every bio, including those put out by the University of Winnipeg and the NDP.  

His message:
I'm sorry about singing about punching you in the head.
I'm sorry about singing about slapping you in the face with my dick.
But, hey, that CD's dope. Check. It. Out.

When the Manitoba Liberals were confronted with the stupid tweets about women by one of their candidates for office, their leader stepped forward to draw a clear line in the sand.

"As a woman I simply cannot accept comments that disparage women. Manitobans have every right to expect and demand a high standard of their candidates and MLAs. We are Liberals and we hold ourselves to a higher standard. It’s what Manitobans expect and demand.” Liberal leader Rana Bokhari said (in a statement).

She spoke from principle. An apology on certain matters is fine from a personal point of view, but a political party must be held to a higher standard, she says. The NDP and Wab Kinew obviously do not share her values. 
Kinew sat on his high horse during the last civic election when mayoral candidate Gord Steeves was under attack for something his wife wrote in a private Facebook post four years earlier. 

It didn't involve punching a woman in the face. 

At the time Kinew wrote:

Wab Kinew ‏@WabKinew 22m
Tweet me when Gord Steeves does the right thing and drops out of the race

Will he do the right thing? Or is the NDP so desperate to protect its star candidate that it's lost the ability to tell the difference?

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Friday, March 04, 2016

Wab Kinew's flip flop hip hop

Just over a year ago Wab Kinew was auditioning for the job of host of CBC Radio's powerhouse morning show, Q.

The CBC had  fired the former host, Jian Ghomeshi, after he revealed a shocking penchant for unusual rough-sex practices, which, according to women who had dated him, included suddenly punching his partner in the head or choking her while making out.

Wab was a definite frontrunner. Non-white (a requisite), handsome, suave, extremely articulate, with a slightly dangerous air (that jiu jitsu training and street fighting past), and he could speak French (courtesy of French immersion schooling). The CBC must have swooned.

But Wab didn't get the job. Maybe it was his gall at starting his weeklong gig with an essay (a Ghomeshi trademark) on violence against women, ending with a jab at the former host himself. Who knows? 

But we know that CBC dodged a bullet because if they had hired Wab we would now be writing about the mass-suicide on Front Street .

For, you see, Wab was sitting on a little secret of his own involving the treatment of women. Six years earlier the university-educated applicant had gone slumming as a hiphop rapper in Winnipeg. He put out a well-received CD in which he rapped songs about---well, bitches and ho's and their sex parts and what Wab wanted to do to them. Or, what's known in the rap world, the usual.

Imagine replacing  Ghomeshi with a guy who raps songs that degrade women, songs that fuel the very attitude behind violence against women.

By the time of his Q audition, Kinew had decided to go into politics, starting with an exploratory sniff at running for Grand Chief of the national Assembly of First Nations. He passed.

But he knew he had to inoculate his new self from his old self if he was to succeed in the political arena... Step one was to show up at the 2014 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards where he publicly denounced misogynist lyrics in rap. Oh, yeah. He may have been for it but now he was against it.

Step two was a memoir, every politician has to have a memoir. Into his he shoehorned a couple of sentences almost as an afterthought: "I would also like to apologize for misogynistic rap lyrics I have written or performed in the past. At the time I thought it was funny or had shock value.”

And wouldn't you know it, during his first real political campaign, running as the NDP's star candidate in the Manitoba general election, the women's issue would come up. This week a Liberal candidate was attacked for some stupid tweets about women, and in defence the Liberals dredged up Wab's rap career.

The NDP was ready. Caucus spokeswoman Sharon Blady insisted there was a difference between the two cases. 
"The one thing that's different there is that he's taken ownership of them," she said of Kinew. "I mean, he's published about it in a book. He's talked about his own personal growth and frankly, the regret. That's about a period of angry youth."

Angry youth? When Wab Kinew was rapping about ho's and bitches he was 27 years old. He had been out of university for six years. He had fathered two children. Just because he wore a baseball cap backwards didn't make him a yout'.

Nobody questioned Blady about her soft racism, calling a grown native man an irresponsible adolescent. But that's another issue.

Even Wab Kinew said in interviews that his "angry youth" was his university days. That's the time of his stints in jail; his street fights;  his conviction for drunk driving; his arrests for assault, including the time he stiffed a cab driver. Unless he can't keep his story straight, he had long ago quit drinking and straightened out, especially after his second child was born.

No, Kinews entry into the hip hop scene was deliberate and thought out. And he's proud of it,.

His CD with those misogynistic lyrics is called Live By the Drum, and it won the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Award for best rap/hip hop album in 2009. And he can't stop promoting it.

Neither can the NDP. On their election website you'll read:

Your NDP Candidates | Manitoba NDP
Manitoba New Democratic Party

.Wab is also an award-winning recording artist. His 2009 album “Live By the Drum” won an Aboriginal People's Choice Music Award.

The University of Winnipeg, where Wab is the Associate Vice-President of Indiigenous Affairs, carries a bio that boasts:

Wab Kinew (pron: WOB ka-NOO) is a one-of-a-kind talent, named by Postmedia News as one of “9 Aboriginal movers and shakers you should know”. He is the Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Affairs at the University of Winnipeg. In 2012, he hosted the acclaimed CBC Television series “8th Fire” and in 2015 is hosting CBC's national program, Canada Reads. His hip-hop has won an Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Award. His journalism has won an Adrienne Clarkson RTNDA Award, a Gabriel Award and been nominated for a Gemini Award. He has a BA in Economics and is a member of the Midewin.

Not a hint of shame there.  
He's never returned his Aboriginal Peoples Choice Award. 
Or amended his bio to read how he's changed his attitude on women compared to his song lyrics.

You might conclude that his sudden remorse is just another tactic by just another cheap politician.

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