Shamed by The Black Rod, Winnipeg's professional "journalists" finally decided there was something to report about an assault charge Manitoba NDP leadership candidate Wab Kinew didn't mention in his memoir.
These "professionals" sat on their hands for almost three weeks after the revelation that Kinew had been hiding the existence of domestic abuse charges from 2003. Kinew said the charges were dropped because they were false, so the press stopped digging.
Only after The Black Rod questioned why the woman's voice wasn't being heard did the professional journalists stir themselves. Within a day, Steve Lambert of Canadian Press had located the complainant and her story was picked up by the rest of the news herd. And what a story it turned out to be!
“I went to the police because he assaulted me; physically injured (me)." she told Lambert.
Tara Hart is her name. And she isn't backing down an inch on her claim of being assaulted by Kinew.
She says she lived with him for a year when one day in May, 2003, they got into an argument and he flung her across the room. She landed on her knees so hard she suffered rug burn. She was so scared of him that she packed a single bag and fled the home as soon as she could. She called the RCMP and he was charged.
He called her three weeks ago when the secret of the domestic abuse charges against him began circulating in Winnipeg to tell her she might be getting calls from reporters. But when he insisted nothing happened between them that night, she hung up on him.
For his part, Kinew declares that Tara Hart is lying. The matter was investigated and the charges were dropped, he says disingenuously.
As we reported, the RCMP did investigate the complaint---and then laid the charges. Hart says she only made one complaint, but there were two charges. That suggests something she told police in May about an incident in April supported a second charge.
The details of that incident are still unknown, with Wab Kinew keeping mum and the press asleep.
His supporters are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to dismiss Hart's story without joining Wab in actually calling her a liar.
NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine, the uber-feminist who once denounced a women's shelter for taking money from a fundraiser at a burlesque show, now gladly defends a man accused of assaulting an indigenous woman.
While she believes the woman, she told CBC, Fontaine is willing to throw her under the bus if it means Kinew will win the NDP leadership, women's solidarity be damned.
University of Manitoba law professor Karen Busby implied in an interview with CBC (where Wab Kinew was employed, a fact they no longer mention) that maybe there were "inconsistencies" with the complaint against him. That and a reluctance to testify by the complainant are the only two reasons why a charge would be stayed, she said.
Wrong. As we pointed out in The Black Rod, the guidelines for prosecutors on domestic abuse charges back then were to proceed with trial unless the complainant admitted she lied or refused to go to court. Tara Hart reaffirms that she was assaulted, but says she didn't want to go to court then and wishes the matter would go away now. That's why the charges were stayed.
The legal charges expired 13 years ago, but the matter is now before a jury of public opinion.
Who to believe?
"I've been very open and honest that I was in a difficult period in my life, when I was in my early 20's" he told a Winnipeg Free Press reporter. "the person who is running to lead the NDP ... is the person that I am today, it's not the man that I was when I was 20 or 21 years old."
In his memoir, Kinew says he graduated from the University of Winnipeg in May, 2003, the time of the alleged assault. He admits that around that time he began a period of behaviour that got him into trouble with the law repeatedly. Fights, car chases, cashing another man's money order and stealing the money, drunk driving. He's smartened up, he says, and quit drinking.
But you know what they say about alcohol. It doesn't make you an asshole; it just magnifies the asshole already in you.