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.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Why won't the NDP listen to the woman who accused Wab Kinew of domestic abuse?




Not so fast, Wabanakwut.

Two and a half weeks ago some skeletons that NDP leadership candidate Wab Kinew had hidden away at the bottom of his closet lurched back to life.   

It scared the hell out of him. But not as scared as he's going to be.

Kinew had built a political career out of being the holier-than-thou candidate in the holier-than-thou Party. He turned his criminal record of drunk driving and assaults in his Twenties into an asset by claiming that he had seen the light, had reformed, and was now, in his Thirties, a paragon of virtue starting with taking ownership and responsibility for all his transgressions.

Look, he said, how transparent I am with my past faults. How can you doubt my sincerity?

But Kinew had to do some fancy tapdancing in late August when it was revealed that he hadn't been completely honest about his run-ins with the law. It turned out that he had concealed a pair of  arrests for domestic violence.

Violence against women, especially aboriginal women, is the third rail of the NDP. Touch it and instant political death. Just ask Maples MLA Mohinder Saran who was turfed from the already pathetically small NDP caucus on mere allegations of sexual harassment.

But the NDP caucus, and the mainstream media, gave Wab a pass on his own history of actual criminal charges of domestic assault. 

In fact, former NDP justice minister Gord Mackintosh said the revelation of the charges might actually be helpful for Kinew among party members in his run for leadership of the party. 

"It remains to be seen whether Steve’s hit on Wab strengthens support for Wab — some in the party were offended by that," he said in the Winnipeg Free Press.

Kinew, himself, went on the attack. There were no apologies this time.

"There was no substance to the allegations. It was investigated. It was dropped," he said.
Or, as a rapper would say, 'she lied, the bitch; makes my trigger finger itch.'
Here's where the story gets interesting.


Three years ago, Wab Kinew was the guest host on CBC-radio's national morning show Q. It was shortly after the regular host, Jian Ghomeshi, had been fired. Ghomeshi was eventually charged with multiple counts of sexual assault. (He was acquitted of all charges.)
Kinew opened the show with an essay titled: There's no acceptable level of violence against women.

He was, of course, being holier-than-thou, as usual. But we got to thinking---shouldn't he be held to his own standards?
We went back to those charges of domestic assault against Wabanakwut Kinew.

The first thing that struck us was that there were two charges. Not two charges stemming from the same incident.  But two charges, one month apart
So the unnamed woman in question called police on Wab in April, 2003, saw him released, probably on his own recognizance, then called police on him again in May.

And the second time was for a second complaint of assault. It was not for a breach of recognizance as would be the case if he came to her house when the court required him to stay away. Two separate assaults on two calendar months.
We found the Manitoba Department of Justice guidelines for Crown attorneys regarding domestic violence that were in effect when the charges were laid.
It was the time of "zero tolerance."

"The Attorney General's policy regarding domestic violence is straightforward: there is  zero tolerance. This means the discretion conferred on those responsible for enforcing the criminal law ought, at each stage of the proceedings, to be exercised in favour of sanctions where a lawful basis to proceed exists. In practical terms, this requires that where there is evidence to support charges, they will be laid. Where there is evidence 
to support conviction, the case will proceed to trial as soon as possible." read the policy directive.
"...Domestic assault, for the purposes of this policy, is defined as physical or sexual assault or the threat of physical or sexual assault of a victim by a person with whom they have or have had an intimate relationship, whether or not they are legally married or living together at the time of the assault or threat."

"...Where a victim of domestic abuse seeks help, police agencies throughout the province are expected by the Attorney General to respond appropriately by treating the situation as a crime and not simply as a "family dispute."



"...Police officers may, and under this policy will be expected to, lay criminal charges where there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence under the Criminal Code or any other law has been committed. That is not to say that charges should be laid automatically, whether or not there is evidence to support criminal proceedings: the 
Criminal Code requires that, before laying charges, a peace officer must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds, based on the available evidence, to do so. Where such grounds do exist, however, charges should be laid. "

This appears to be in direct contradiction of Kinew's statement

 "There was no substance to the allegations. It was investigated. It was dropped."


It appears the police did investigate and did determine that based on the evidence there was reason to believe a crime was committed.

To say the charges were dropped is problematic. 

The charges were stayed, which, in laymen's terms, means the prosecution of the matter was suspended for a year and then abandoned.  The intent was to keep Kinew on a short leash for a year to guarantee that he kept the peace, probably because of a second charge being laid so soon after the first. The government guidelines stated "proceedings should not be terminated unless it is clear that there is no longer sufficient evidence to support charges".


This was followed by a lengthy discourse on when charges should be stayed which boiled down to:
-  whenever the complainant wouldn't testify (and even then only if there were no other witnesses or physical evidence), 

-  couldn't be found, or 

-  admitted she lied to police.

Which was the case in Queen v. Kinew?


********

Wab says he doesn't want to discuss the matter any more to protect the privacy of the complainant.

Okay, we don't need the name of the woman. 

But we do need the details.

The NDP is in the position of possibly electing an alleged woman-beater as the leader of their party.  The delegates need more information on his secret past.

Two things need to happen immediately:

A) Wab Kinew must reveal the circumstances of the charges against him.  

The court charges come with what's known as an "information" which contains detailed allegations of who did what to whom which precipitated the laying of the charge.  

Did both charges involve verbal assault (shouts, threats) or physical assaults (pushing, grabbing)? Or was it more (black eyes, bruising)?  Remember that at the time  the domestic assault charges were laid, Kinew, by his own autobiographical account, was a mean drunk who was quick with his fists.

B) The New Democratic Party must get a signed statement from the complainant in which she either admits she lied to police about the assaults as Kinew says she did, or she stands by her complaints against him. The Party should have no preference to what she says.

But hearing from the woman is vital in the court of public opinion. 

He's called her a liar. Why shouldn't her voice be heard as loud as his?

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