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 adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Name:
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: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The Holocaust lie that won't die.



Last Friday, following the official opening ceremonies at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Winnipeg Free Press, the propaganda arm of the museum, updated with video and slideshow many of the stories it had published in the run up to the opening.
One of these was a column by "professional journalist" Dan Lett that appeared Aug. 1st. 
Something he wrote stuck in our craws back then and the update gives us an opportunity to remind Lett - he's entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.  He wrote:

"(The Holocaust) gallery, as promised, focuses not on the atrocity per se, but on how the Nazis used legal means to galvanize their genocidal policies. And how the Holocaust directly resulted in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, the first attempt to codify in international law the principle that no country can pass laws to dehumanize any group of citizens.

Er, no
We reported more than a year ago that that canard had been dispelled.   We quoted an interview Dr. Clint Curle, the former curator of the Holocaust gallery, gave to the Winnipeg Jewish Review:
http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2013/04/another-of-gail-aspers-human-rights.html
Dr. Curle: The organizational framework for the museum has evolved over time. One of our challenges has been to conceptually locate the Holocaust and the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in the Museum. The historical proximity of these two events suggested an inspiring relationship between violation and response. As content development moved forward, the Museum, with the input of experts in this area, realized that this relationship oversimplified both the history of the Holocaust and the history of the Universal Declaration, and exaggerated the actual historical connections between the two. In its present conceptual articulation the Museum has de-linked a direct causal relationship between the Holocaust and the Universal Declaration."

Added Curle:

"Taking the Holocaust on its own terms in this way speaks powerfully to broader human rights concerns regarding the power of the modern state, the vulnerabilities of civil society to become an instrument of oppression, and the controversial relationship between war and human rights protection, but
does not instrumentalize the Holocaust to tell a creation myth about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

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Monday, September 01, 2014

The latest Winnipeg mayoral election poll: Next time try tarot cards.


It's hard to say who should be more embarrassed by the latest mayoral election poll --- the pollsters, the press, or the funders?
 
The first crowd-sourced election poll in Canada turned out to be such a bust that the pollsters had to invent something new to give its funders to justify taking their money.

Winnipeg's Probe Research Inc. issued a poll grading the support of the candidates for mayor, but with a 29 percent undecided response, the poll was less reliable than your daily horoscope. Ten percent undecided would be large.  Twenty percent would be huge.  But almost 30 percent is a joke, a bad joke that invalidates the alleged results.

In a desperate move to keep some credibility, Probe Research invented a momentum index, claiming to measure which candidates are moving up in public opinion and which down. 

When was the last time you heard of something like this?  Hint: NEVER.

But they had to deliver something to the private group, Manitoba Forward, and the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg who fronted most of the cost of this exercise and who should complain to the BBB of polling -- if there is such a thing.

Do you want to know how useless this mayoral poll is?  Just compare it to a similar poll conducted before the 2010 civic election:

Judy, Sam neck and neck in poll
Mayor a little behind challenger in one sample, a little ahead in other
By: Bartley Kives  Posted: 10/2/2010

THE METHODOLOGY Probe Research conducted telephone interviews with 600 randomly selected Winnipeg adults between Sept. 16 and 30. One can say with 95 per cent certainty that the results, taken from a subsample of 439 people who intend to vote, have a margin of error of 4.7 per cent. The sample was statistically weighted to conform to Winnipeg’s demographics.

THE LARGER SAMPLE If you look at the entire 600-person sample — including people who do not intend to vote — Katz is ahead of Wasylycia-Leis by a three-point mar­gin, 50 per cent to 47. The results re­main a statistical dead heat, within the margin of error of four per cent. Probe Research president Scott MacKay considers this sample a less reliable snapshot of actual voting intentions.
THE race for mayor of Winnipeg is now a statistical dead heat. Incum­bent Sam Katz has lost the polling lead he held all year and is now even with challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

According to a Probe Research poll conducted in late September exclu­sively for the Free Press, Wasylycia-Leis is the preferred choice of 50 per cent of Winnipeg voters. Katz sits three points behind with 47 per cent support and Brad Gross and Rav Gill garnered the remaining three per cent. The mar­gin of error for these results is 4.7 per cent.
snip
The overall results point to Winni­peg's closest mayoral race since 1998, when Glen Murray squeaked by Peter Kauffman by 10,569 votes.
  

Well.....as it turned out that poll was indicative of absolutely nothing.  Sam Katz trounced JustJudy by double digits.  He collected just shy of 55 percent of the vote, she not quite 43 percent. She lost by almost 25,500 votes, hardly the squeaker predicted by Probe.

The only benefit of the 2014 Probe mayoral poll was as fodder for the news media's narrative of the election campaign.  You see, modern journalists don't report the news anymore---they create the news, as CJOB's Richard Cloutier did when he disrupted a Gord Steeves news conference because Steeves wouldn't play the foil to CJOB's live broadcast. 

The current narrative is 'left-wing candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis (she's abandoned the folksy, aw shucks Just Judy persona) vs. a gang of right-wingers.' 

It's a retread. That was last year's media narrative also.

This year was supposed to be the sweep into City Hall of Brian Bowman, the Gen X candidate.  Only the Bowman appeal is zero with voters. His campaign has no traction. He actually thinks he'll win voters over with an endorsement from Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman, a millionaire who collects millions of dollars in subsidies from Winnipeg taxpayers because, goodness knows, he doesn't have enough millions yet.
The MSM spent all of last week flogging the 'Wasylycia-Leis is unbeatable' angle. Prior to that the Winnipeg Free Press published three stories on one week attacking candidate Gord Steeves, demonstrating who they think is the biggest threat to Judy Alphabet, as she calls herself.  They even pronounced his campaign dead after they learned his wife posted a message on the Internet saying how sick and tired she was of running a gauntlet downtown of scary drunk Indian panhandlers.

When that wasn't enough, Free Press columnist Dan Lett resorted to outright fantasy and fabrication to smear Steeves:

 "There was a time earlier in the campaign when it looked as if Steeves would drop out. He had a horrid start involving botched events and the resignation of some key campaign organizers.
Since then, however, he has delivered a barrage of campaign announcements, some intriguing, some poorly conceived. There was also the matter of an angry Facebook rant by his wife against homeless aboriginals."

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/bowman-steeves-making-it-a-one-horse-race-273147051.html

That never happened.

She never mentioned homeless aboriginals. This is a complete and total invention by Dan Lett.  Years past, Lett tried to show how clever he was by quoting his wife, who allegedly made the pithy observation that you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

That, obviously, was before Lett found how much fun he had making up "facts".

This egregious attempt to malign Gord Steeves is just part of the pattern of Lett's writings. We addressed his confessed bias in his columns two years ago:

http://blackrod.blogspot.ca/2012/04/jury-is-in-on-dan-lett-verdict-guilty.html

At a real newspaper, he would be disciplined for printing lies. But the attacks on Steeves are part of the Winnipeg Free Press narrative on the election, and will be rewarded, instead.
*****************

Speaking of mainstream media incompetence, here's some of the ever-popular:
Professional Journalists At Work
"New crowd-funded poll gives Wasylycia-Leis 16-point lead in mayoral race
By: Mary Agnes Welch  Winnipeg Free Press  Posted: 08/28/2014 3:30 PM |
The poll was conducted over the weekend using a custom online panel and has a margin or error of +/- 4 per cent."
*****
"Wasylycia-Leis tops 2nd mayoral poll
By Kristin Annable, Winnipeg Sun
First posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 02:43 PM CDT |
The data for the country’s first crowdfunded election survey was collected from 603 Winnipeggers between Aug. 22 and Aug. 25, and is accurate to +/-4% at a 95% certainty level."
*****
"Bowman Not Going To Leave Mayoral Race
Kim Lawson CJOBAugust 29, 2014 02:45 pm
The survey was conducted with 603 members of Probe Research’s proprietary online panel and has a margin of error of +/- 4 per cent, 19 times out of 20."
******The facts:  Probe Research Inc. Aug. 28, 2014:
This survey was conducted with 603 members of Probe Research’s proprietary online panel.

Because this is a non-probability sample,
no statistical margin of error can be ascribed.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

The public lynching of mayoral candidate Gord Steeves



The public lynching of mayoral candidate Gord Steeves last Wednesday was not only ugly, it was a frightening display of how an uncontrolled news mob will gladly abandon ethics and propriety for self-promotion.


Having invented a scandal, Winnipeg's best known purported professional journalists descended on a Steeves news conference determined to stir more controversy -- even if they had to manufacture it.


The most egregious faux-journalist was CJOB's news director, Richard Cloutier. CJOB, with its listenership in freefall, has decided that the way to recoup its ratings is with stunts. So they determined they would go live to the Steeves news conference where, just maybe if they were lucky, trouble would break out.

The problem with going live is that you can't control the event. So when Steeves began eating up time outlining a policy proposal to improve the lives of Winnipegers, it was more than Cloutier could stand. 

Cloutier disrupted the news conference by shouting out questions that had nothing to do with the announcement Steeves was making.  He decided to throw off the mantle of journalist and become an actor in his own radio drama.
Instead of reporting news, he would create news.  Hey, look at me, I'm Dan Rather!  Except we know how Dan Rather ended up when he started making up the news, don't we.

Making yourself part of the story, isn't that Professional Journalist Ethics 101?  And civility? Screw it. What about telling voters what an election candidate will do for them? Oh, please. How Old School. Nobody cares what candidates stand for, do they?

Certainly not Cloutier. Of course, after the election he will be whining about why there was a low turnout, how candidates should be more specific about their "vision", how awful it is that voters make their decisions based on personality, blah blah blah.

Cloutier's interruption got others in the small crowd to start heckling.  Maybe, finally, the news media would get the confrontation they were hoping for.

When announcing the news conference, the Steeves camp had asked the news desks to embargo the location.  He didn't want the event to become a circus.  But the newsrooms did.

APTN was first to formally break the embargo and announce the location where Steeves would be.  They argued that since they weren't directly invited, they weren't bound by any embargo.  But how, then, did they know where the news conference would be?  Obviously, because someone at one of the major newsrooms leaked it to them to generate an anti-Steeves crowd. And that would mean the confrontation the reporters wanted.

Manipulating events instead of reporting news. Yep, professional journalist ethics in action.

The media mob also manipulated words in its attack on Gord Steeves.

Years of media bias criticism has taught citizens how to read the biases of news outlets. 
Note how effortlessly all the Winnipeg newrooms referred to the "racist" Facebook post made by Steeves wife.  
Take the CBC headline:
"Gord Steeves defends wife, tries to explain racist comments"

Or Megan Batchelor's reporting for Global Winnipeg:
"WINNIPEG-Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves broke his silence Tuesday and announced in spite of a racist Facebook post made by his wife in 2010, he will stay in the race to become Winnipeg’s next mayor."
Except that it wasn't racist. 

She didn't show any prejudice towards Indians, just "drunken native guys" who harass people on the skywalks of Winnipeg. Indeed, she wanted them to improve themselves by getting an education and jobs so they don't need to harass people for handouts.

Now compare that with the comments one year ago by NDP Cabinet Minister Eric Robinson who was caught sending a racist email showing prejudice against white people.  Robinson confirmed his prejudice in a television interview the next day, and declared that as an Indian he had a right to be prejudiced.  
NOT ONE NEWS OUTLET IN WINNIPEG labelled his email as "racist" in their news stories.  NOT ONE.

So the term "racist" is thrown about as a label to smear the people the "professional journalists" want smeared for their own purposes.

But the reporting on the Steeves news conference was riddled with equally biased wording.

Megan Batchelor, again:

"Steeves attempted to side-step the issue and unveil a policy on permits and zoning variances. The announcement was interrupted by questions about his status as a candidate."

Note how she carefully side-steps the issue of who interrupted the candidate -- to hide the fact that it was CJOB news director Richard Cloutier.

The Winnipeg Free Press joined Global in falsely reporting Steeves' intentions:

"He initially wanted to skirt the entire issue by trying to discuss civic policy, but was shouted down by hecklers and the media at a press conference Tuesday at Bonnycastle Park."

The public isn't fooled anymore, and to the news media's chagrin, the Internet allows citizens to talk back without the media filter:

Livio Ciaralli 11:52pm Aug 12 
Why was Cloutier interrupting and asking him if he was going to quit. Really Cloutier ???!!! Why should he quit ? Do you manage what your wife says ? Don't professional reporters have a code of conduct. Let the candidate speak, then ask him questions.

Reporters rushed to foster controversy by getting Indian observers to criticize Steeves. There was Chief Jim Bear from the Brokenhead Reserve who was "frustrated" and "disappointed". And Chief Betsy Kennedy from the War Lake Reserve who was inspired that more aboriginal Winnipeggers would vote in the coming election.

But the biased reporters forgot to do some basic research.  
A quick search of the Aboriginal Affairs website shows that neither Brokenhead nor War Lake have filed their band financial statements as required by the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. 
In short, the same time as they're telling Winnipegers how to vote, they're breaking the law.  What role models of public governance.

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Dan Lett wrote his own version of the Steeves news conference.  Almost immediately, other attendees took to the Internet to challenge his version of the facts. 

Wrote Lett:

"As Gord Steeves left Bonnycastle Park on Tuesday, an aboriginal man in a smart grey business suit approached him and asked for a chance to talk. 

The man, Kevin Hart, chairman of the Circle of Life Thunderbird House, had been watching Steeves respond to the controversy over Steeves' wife Lorrie's angry Facebook rant against "drunken native guys."
 
Hart stood close to Steeves the entire time he tried to explain the two incidents involving aggressive panhandlers that prompted his wife to post the rant.
 
When the news conference was over, Hart calmly circled around the throng of media to intercept Steeves on his way to his car. When approached, Steeves declined to speak to him. Without breaking stride, he headed to his car."

That's not the way others who were there saw it. They took to the Comments to tell what they saw.

Gordon Halushka
7:13 AM on 8/13/2014
"The same guy who was heckling non-stop and you know it.lett.

4:11 PM on 8/12/2014
Nope. He did not. Others did.
Dan Lett
The guy in the grey business suit was heckling and harassing Gord Steeves,we have it on video,Mr. Lett and you denied it to maintain your narrative,Gord Steeves the racist.
You owe the public an apology.

Dan Lett
8:46 AM on 8/13/2014
He made one comment during the news conference, and it was uttered so quietly that only those of us who were standing right beside him (I am right off to the camera left) could hear what he said. And then for the rest of the event, he said absolutely nothing. That is proven by the video.

anonymity_personified
9:17 AM on 8/13/2014
You couldn't be more disengenuous if you tried lett. The dude was staring steeves down and crowding into his personal space. It was intimidation 101.

Old Flin Flon
9:59 AM on 8/13/2014
Gee Dan. I guess you were caught in a little LIE. Twice. But twisting the truth seems to have become your mudus operendi.
After reporting on the porr aboriginal gentleman who just wanted to have a word to clear the air, it now appears you were and are conspiring to create a little more news. After the humiliation you and Gordon suffered last week, one would have hoped you would be chastised before trying to ruin a few more people. But, oh know, you have proven yorself to be worse than a biased reporter/columnist. This week you have demonstrated yourself to be an honesty challenged activist. Maybe all this is about trying to "impress" the new boss.

You would think that something as basic as getting the facts straight would be a matter of concern to the editorial department, but we'll see.

Lett didn't help his case when responding to a complaint of having a double standard---of attacking Gord Steeves while ignoring the racism of Eric Robinson.  He just tried to rewrite history.
Dan Lett
8:50 AM on 8/13/2014
My conclusion was that the comments were racist and that, as a person who has suffered under the residential schools system and systemic racism most of his life, there was a context there that helped explain - not excuse - the comments Robinson made. Very similarly, I have taken pains not to call Lorrie Steeves a racist. But what she said was racist. We have some context now but I think you're still missing the point.

Comments uttered by a victim of racism and similar comments uttered by someone who felt provoked, but who otherwise has never experienced racism are not the same.
The fact that the great non-aboriginal majority has no empathy for that distinction is hardly surprising. A bit sad really, but no shocker.

If he "concluded" that Robinson's comments were racist, he failed to say so publicly.  
In his column on the minister's racist email, Lett never once used the words "racist email." The closest he came was in paragraph 19 of his 20 paragraph column when he wrote:
"For now, Robinson has been forced to fight the allegations he is a racist with a recitation of his long and decorated political career."

Inventing a scandal. 
Reinventing history. 
The Winnipeg MSM in action.    
Shame.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hate the federal Conservative Party? The Winnipeg Free Press is hiring.


The Winnipeg Free Press appears to be gearing up for the next federal election by hiring the most strident hater of the Conservative Party they could find to join their editorial department.

We're not talking about FP Editor Paul Samyn, who was the biggest shill for the Liberal Party in Ottawa when he was the newspaper's Parliamentary reporter.  See http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2006/10/fp-admits-bad-reporting-still-says.html for details.

This past weekend Samyn announced that "we have a new editor responsible for the perspectives you will be reading both in print and on-line. Shannon Sampert, an expert in Canadian politics and the media, joins our newsroom from the University of Winnipeg...Shannon becomes the first woman to oversee our editorial pages. I think Dafoe would be proud."

Shannon Sampert was no stranger to The Black Rod (more about that in a minute). We more-or-less ignored her in her teaching job at the U of W, but when we learned she was in a position to influence public opinion through manipulation of the city's largest daily newspaper, we decided to look closer at the slant she's likely to bring to the editorial pages "in print and on-line."

In 2000, Sampert was the vice-president of communications for the Alberta Liberal Party.  But that was a long time ago and indicative of nothing more than a decade later. Or was it?

In her Twitter profile Sampert describes herself as "left-of-centre."

Read on to see through her Tweets what's considered left-of-centre in academic and MSM circles:

Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  2 Feb 2012
In Canada, under #Harper, the earth is flat and the sky is yellow and truth is what Sun News tells us.
***********
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  20 Jan 2012
hell freezes over. I agree with CPC. @WinnipegNews: MacKay puts the kibosh on order of 20,000 stress balls
http://bit.ly/Ay9Buk
**********
Shannon Sampert  @PaulySigh
I regret that the rest of that reads: his newser but for a minute my hopes were up.
RT@natnewswatch: Wow, Harper is finished
 
***************
 Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  13 Apr 2012
Air Canada should have sick days when #cpc MPs are trying to fly home. #missedopportunity #ac

 
********************
11:21 AM - 2 Apr 2012
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  2 Apr 2012
Vic Toews goes to the hospital by ambulance because of the flu. I am fighting my sarcastic urges right now.

****************************
Sampert re-tweets a lot of other people's messages, and one of her favorite commenters is Stephen Lautens, of' Toronto, who describes himself on his Twitter account as "recovering lawyer, passionate & progressive moderate... occasional columnist..."

See, from her re-tweets, what passes as a "passionate moderate" in Sampert's circle.

Retweeted by Shannon Sampert
 Stephen Lautens @stephenlautens  ·  Jul 19
#putharperonthestand (
put harper on the stand...ed.) and watch him burst into flames as he swears to tell the truth. #cdnpoli
***********************
 Stephen Lautens @stephenlautens  ·  Jul 27
Harper renames Therese Casgrain Volunteer Awards the "Prime Minister's Awards." In related news, Boy Scouts renamed "Harper Youth" #cdnpoli

Harper Youth/ Hitler Youth.  Get it? 

Always a knee-slapper at Sampert's house.

For real insight into how classy this guy is, see what he wrote following the sudden death of former Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty:

(TO BE CLEAR, THIS APPEARED ON LAUTENS' TWITTER SITE AND WAS NOT RETWEETED BY SHANNON SAMPERT.)

i'd be willing to pay for a lot more state funerals for Conservatives. A lot more... #cdnpoli
— Stephen Lautens (@stephenlautens) April 11, 2014
 

Another of Sampert's favorites is Dan Gardner.  She loves the guy. We know because she told everyone so.
 
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  15 Mar 2012
I've decided I love @dgardner -- the man speaks the cynical truth!

*****************
Here's what to expect on Middle East coverage when Shannon Sampert gets control of what goes into the Free Press editorial pages:

/dgardnerDan Gardner @dgardner · Jul 17
Fanaticism, illustrated. Later on the very day that four children are killed, the CPC tweets this:
https://twitter.com/CPC_HQ/status/489568552282624000
Conservative Party @CPC_HQ
Through fire and water, Canada will stand with Israel. Add your name if…
 
What about local news?  Sampert tipped her hand here too.

‏@PaulySigh
8Thank god property taxes have gone up. It's ridiculous how little I pay. I'd rather see better transit, snow removal and paving thanks. 
*********************
 
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  26 Apr 2012
If Wpg police want more officers and another helicopter, watch for the release of scare tactic "stats". #bewary #beingplayed
 
Sampert didn't rise to the bait when someone tried on Twitter goading her with accusations of being a lesbian.  But she did show her real attitude towards men with this re-tweet.
 
2:41 PM - 28 Feb 2012
Retweeted by Shannon Sampert
TrillNPresent Danger @_Roxie_ · Jul 25
"@sassycrass: I'll say it again: most men don't learn misogyny as misogyny. You learn it as Being A Man."

And Shannon Sampert appears to be a regular reader of The Black Rod.

Shannon Sampert‏@PaulySigh
The Black Rod Blog is calling the MSM handling of the expirey date comment against Neville a drive by smear. Pot calling the kettle black!
11:32 AM - 2 Apr 2011

That's not surprising given as how we gave her her first major ink in this city six years ago in an article titled 'Mayor or Moose.'  It's still one of our best.

But given her new job at the Winnipeg Free Press, the details of the humourous story take on a more sinister shading.  It appears Sampert is a fan of censorship and of intimidating others who don't share her extremist views.

She'll fit right in at the FP.

******************************************
The Black Rod was also on the mind of FP columnist Dan Lett yesterday.

Lett jumped into a comments thread to deliver a fine rant against our story pointing out how badly out-of-touch the Winnipeg Free Press was with the public in Winnipeg:

Here's a sample:

Dan Lett
8:43 AM on 8/11/2014
We are supposed to take notice when some anonymous blogger agrees that the racist comments made by another individual are justified? Someone who wants to portray downtown as a place where people are regularly terrorized by the panhandlers?

Come on folks. I can assure you that I spend more time downtown that most of you. My spouse works right downtown. Having grown up in a larger city that I still visit regularly, I can tell you that big cities are all about the collision of affluence and abject poverty. It's one of the predictable, lamentable facts of bloody life. But terrorized? Seriously?

...Winnipeggers are such big babies about the panhandling threat.
 
Nobody wants to be asked for spare change by someone who may be under the influence of some substance. It's uncomfortable and awkward. But to characterize downtown as some sort of war zone - who is really employing the hyperbole here.

Bottom line - congrats to the one anonymous dude who uses his posts to plug the other anonymous dude's hateful commentary. Another blow for transparency, accountability and public debate.

Hee hee.   You might take this seriously if you didn't know that Dan Lett, the Winnipeg Free Press Golden Boy, just made up his own facts.
Nowhere did we say that anybody was "terrorized."  Read the story for yourself. Lett just made that up. 

He set up a straw man, punched him, kicked him, poked him in his imaginary eyes, knocked him down, jumped on him while pounding on his own chest and shouting "Look at me. I'm so tough."

Hee hee.  You know why somebody has to fight a straw man, don't you. It's because they can't win an argument, so they need a diversion.

By pretending to beat up an imaginary man of their own invention, they get to pretend they're winners, not loooosers.  Hee hee.

But did Danny think we wouldn't spot this: "I can assure you that I spend more time downtown that most of you."  You see, there's a reason why Dan spends so much time downtown, and it's not because he's hyping the Free Press News Cafe on McDermot.

Dan's wife, Becky Lett, is a librarian.  And, whooo, there's a library downtown. 
Who would have a better front-row seat to the drunks downtown than a librarian?  Maybe Becky Lett can tell us why the downtown library stations security guards at the top of the stairs leading from the overhead walkway?  Or why the police do walk-throughs the library so often. Or, give us more details of the threats on the life of a security guard who was removing riff raff (an event reported in the Winnipeg Sun and repeated in The Black Rod).

C'mon Dan, Let's hear the skinny about downtown directly from your wife Becky.

Lett, you recall, was one of those who went to great lengths to excuse the racist attitude of NDP cabinet minister Eric Robinson.
 

It was only in paragraph 19 of a 20-paragraph story that Lett allowed himself to use the word "racist."  He spoke about "inflammatory email remarks" and a "charged, racially motivated comment" before finally, reluctantly, concluding with "allegations he is a racist."

But he had no hesitation calling 'racism' on the private, non-government, observations of the wife of a mayoral candidate that Lett wants defeated.

Funny how that works, isn't it. 

The Free Press can smear with impunity those they want out of office, while excusing the most egregious behaviour from those they want in. 

That's professional journalists at work.

************
As a brief aside, while Dan Lett was defending Eric Robinson for his attack on white people who tried to improve the lives of Indian, Lett was keeping very, very silent about an event that had been held at the FP News Cafe.

You see, nine months earlier, the News Cafe hosted the star of the very fundraiser that prompted Robinson's racist comments.

Here's how the newspaper hyped her appearance:

The temperature is falling outside but it was heating up at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café Thursday afternoon.

Miss La Muse, a local burlesque dancer stopped by to discuss an important fundraiser for Osborne House.
Proceeds from the sale of Foxy Shoppe Calendar will be given to Osborne House, which provides a safe and supportive environment for women and children who are experiencing domestic abuse.

A calendar launch party is being held at The Foxy Shoppe at 87 King Street from 7-9 Friday evening.
Miss La Muse also put on a short performance at the cafe. Watch a replay here.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Selinger NDP's bedrock support is eroding even as Trudeau dooms the Liberals


Justin Trudeau has delivered the kiss of death to the Manitoba Liberal Party.

With a new leader and a successful annual general meeting under their belts, the Party had surged up the polls to heights unheard of since 1995. At 23 percent of popular support in the March poll by Probe Research, the Liberals were barking at the ankles of the ruling NDP (28 percent), a far cry from their 7.5 percent showing in the last provincial election (2011).

Then Trudeau announced in May that the federal Liberals were henceforth the official pro-abortion party of Canada and anyone opposing abortion was an enemy of the state.

Poof.  Support for the Manitoba Liberals dropped seven percentage points by the June polling. (And even that was bolstered by the anomaly of 28 percent support in Southwest Winnipeg.)

The bright horizon predicted for Liberals under Leader Rana Bokhari suddenly became a pipe dream, with another trip to the sub-basement of political hell more likely.
The latest Probe poll shows the Progressive Conservatives remain the most popular party in Manitoba with the governing NDP 13 points behind.

While the Winnipeg Free Press tries to spin the poll results as a modest comeback for the NDP from their worst standing, the newspaper fails to point out that the undecided vote dropped from 20 percent to 13.  Voters' opinions have hardened.

The only movement hereon is in how many voters are chased away by Justin Trudeau and whether they'll find refuge in another party or sit on the sidelines.

The NDP cannot be heartened by the fine details of the election poll. The Progressive Conservatives are ahead in almost every category, showing that even the bedrock NDP support has begun to erode:
Male voters have totally rejected the NDP, with the Tories ahead by 24 percentage points. 
 
Female voters prefer the PC's by a nose, and 
 
* the Opposition Party leads in support from all age groups, all education levels (with the biggest lead among those with high school or less), and all income levels, including the poorest voters.

The NDP is competitive only with female voters under age 55, where the results are within the poll's margin of error in their favour.

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Thursday, June 05, 2014

Too much of her own money, not enough of yours. Judy runs for Mayor.




When it comes to electing a mayor, nothing says a city is dynamic, bold, and thriving like a stara baba collecting an old-age pension.

This week Judy Wasylycia-Leis, 63 in August,  announced her second run at the mayor's job. She still has zero experience at City Hall, still marches to the orders of the NDP, collects two retirement pensions and would be getting a third, her old age security cheque, if Mayor. Do you feel the excitement, yet?

Despite getting trounced by Sam Katz in the mayoral election four years ago, JWL thinks her campaign the second time around needs only minor tinkering.  Most specifically, she doesn't have to pretend to be apologetic for promising higher taxes.

Katz handily defeated JWL by at least paying lip service to protecting seniors and low-income homeowners from her promised tax hikes. Of course, it turns out he was either lying or ..., well, lying, because the first thing he did after re-election was start raising property taxes.

JWL can now proudly make tax hikes front and centre to her campaign for Mayor because most of the other candidates for the job also call for higher taxes for -- wait for it -- infrastructure.  There. The magic word.  Say it and you can spend endlessly, without shame or regret.

And JWL is proof of that. On the very first day of her campaign she declared herself in favour of spending $4 billion on a citywide bus rapid transit system and against a referendum to ask the taxpaying public if BRT was their priority too.
On her second day she spelled out her formula for constant tax increases---inflation plus growth.  The Winnipeg Free Press worked out that this would have meant a tax increase of 3.5 percent in 2014 instead of Sam Katz's 2.95 percent.

Vote Judy for higher taxes and rampant spending.  And that's a promise.

Oh, and here's the joke. You won't find JWL taking a bus.  Like all the politicians who want to spend your money on a gold-plated public transit system, she's much too busy to take the bus. She brags she rides her bike when she's not driving.

On the day she announced her run for Mayor,  JWL told CJOB her 25 year-old son was biking home to Winnipeg from the University of Waterloo.  She wanted him to  eventually move here after graduation to work, and she said, she didn't want to leave him a second-class city without a modern transit system.  So ... what's going to keep an educated young man in his mid-20's in Winnipeg?  The ability to take a bus around town?

Don't laugh until you see his field of study:

(from the blog Jessica's Transit Talks http://winnipegtransittalks.com/)
"... he’s at the University of Waterloo doing his masters in environmental studies. His whole research area is in community resilience and his thesis is going to be on linking culture and art, specifically linking festivals as a vehicle for helping build a transformative society that is sustainable in the face of peak oil and environmental deprivation and economic collapse.”

Okay, laugh now.

During the last election, we pointed out how completely out of touch with the voters 'Just Judy' was.  Her whole life had been spent as a soldier in the NDP army, towing the party line, voting the party line, living the party life.

Having never worked a day in her life in a real job, she had no clue what life was like for an ordinary working family.

It was only during this campaign when we realized how far off the mark we were.  Judy Wasylycia-Leis is even more out of touch with the average taxpayer than we ever imagined.

She's a white-wine socialist. A one-percenter slumming as a 'woman of the people.'  She pledged on radio to give her MP's pension to charity if elected mayor.  That means she's willing to give away at the least $68,000 a year without a thought.  And, she added proudly, she'll give away her MLA's pension from the Manitoba Legislature, as well.  In 2010 she actually said she didn't know how much her MLA pension was, that's how insignificant it was to her bottom line.
 
In a political riding that's one of the poorest in the country, Judy Wasylycia-Leis is ready to give away -- what do you say?-- at least $80,000 in total pension income because she will be so flush that she won't need the money. 

Yep, she really relates to her former constituents, the very people she intends to soak with higher property taxes if she gets the chance so that she can spend their money on her boutique projects - - white elephant museums, a BRT system they'll never use, interpretive centres nobody wanted, a spectacular exhibit for polar bears that they can't afford to attend or bring their children.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis has her priorities, only they're not the public's.
Listen to the so-called pundits and they'll tell you JWL is the front-runner in a field of right-wing candidates and her. 

They're wrong.

This election is not about political wings. It's about voting for unending tax increases or not. 

Since these pundits are all in well-paying jobs where annual tax increases are just a mosquito bite, they're in favour of spending on boutique projects. (Winnipeg Free Press columnists and editorialists earn $70,000 and up and have guaranteed jobs for life.) They'll be promoting the tax hikers over the tax resisters and, of course, the biggest spender-to-be will get the most favourable coverage.

Current Mayor Sam Katz is not going to run again.  You can call him many things, but stupid is not one of them.  To run for Mayor again, Katz would have to run against himself. In the 2010 election he either lied about not raising taxes or flip-flopped so quickly that there's no difference. In either case, he's proven he can't be trusted to keep his word.

He would be running with the stink of Phil Sheegl choking everyone around him. Sam Katz brought Sheegl into civic government, endorsed him, publicly insulted anyone who challenged Sheegl's competence as the city's Chief Administrative Officer, covered up as long as he could for the scandals sweeping Winnipeg that all lead right Sheegl's office. Katz would be carrying that dead albatross around his neck everywhere he went.

Katz would be running on a track record of his own incompetence
.  Remember his own declarations that the new football stadium wouldn't cost taxpayers a cent more because of a "guaranteed maxium price"?  Or his claim that he knew all along that the  "guaranteed maximum price" for the new police station was not guaranteed, nor a maximum. 

And, of course, there's that niggling question of how Sam Katz, the Mayor, managed to buy a million dollar house in Phoenix for $10 from a relative of an official of Shindo, the company that got the contract for four new firehalls from Phil Sheegl after a rigged bidding process that eliminated every other potential contender. When the sale was revealed, Katz said he paid cash for the house above the $10 on the books, but he offered no proof, which, of course is the purpose of an alleged cash transaction.

So there won't be a rematch between Sam and 'JustJudy'.  Not that it matters.

Because she's not really running for mayor.  Remember, she's a party hack and has always been a party hack.  She's running as a trial horse for the provincial NDP, which wants to see prior to the next provincial election just how much the NDP brand repels voters. They want to see if they can buy their way back into office, if taxpayers will forgive the increase in PST if the government can utter the magic word -- infrastructure -- and spend, spend, spend to victory.

In the Brave New World of the NDP, even a stara baba has her role to play.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Why does the CMHR need $2 million by May 30?


There's something fishy going on with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and we can't put our finger on what it is.

Let's start with the bogus "news" story in the Winnipeg Free Press, the propaganda arm of the CMHR, that Canadian realtors "have come up with a $2 million donation."

There's no byline so we don't know who wrote the story, but whoever it was,  he or she had to struggle mightily with the facts to devise a story that implies something false without lying outright.

Someone with only a cursory interest in the CMHR would read the story and come away thinking the Canadian Real Estate Association had raised $2 million and donated it to the still-unopened museum. 

That's what the Free Press wants you to think.

But reading a little closer you see that the realtors' fundraising campaign started in 2008. In truth, then, it took them six years to raise $2 million. And their donation is not new money. It's been on the books for years.  The FP wants you to believe Gail Asper just raised $2 million for the museum, when its not true.

Way back in the summer of 2012, the Friends of the CMHR newsletter carried this update:

"Individual REALTORS, brokerage firms, boards and associations across Canada have
joined forces to support the CMHR, contributing an impressive $1.69 million to the
FCMHR. The REALTORS campaign fundraising goal of $2 million is now within reach!"
The real story is that the 97,000 realtors and related groups raised only a pathetic $310,000 in the last two years.  That's a whopping $3.18 per person, or $1.59 each a year.  That penny-ante support is the true measure of public support for the CMHR.

So why would the Winnipeg Free Press trumpet a donation that's little more than pocket change?  

We've referred to Gail Asper as Winnipeg's biggest panhandler, but until now we didn't know how literal that description was.  Earlier this year, Gail Asper's  Friends of the CMHR was actually begging people for spare change in St.Vital Centre. 

Here's how they proudly described their panhandling efforts:

"In March, St. Vital Centre asked customers to demonstrate their support for the CMHR by turning their loose change into St. Vital Centre Giftcards using the centre’s coin counter machine. St. Vital Centre then matched the total amount and donated the proceeds from the campaign to Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. In total, they raised more than $10,000 for the Museum in just over one month!"

The CMHR has been reduced to competing with  bums for beer money.  Its obvious they're scrambling.  This year, for the fourth year in a row, the CMHR has failed to produce a financial report for the first quarter of the year (January to March), hiding its dire financial situation into the fall, at least.
The Friends of the CMHR have issued a desperate plea to Canada's Chinese community for $2 million by May 30, 2014.  This is the first time we've ever seen a request for money with a deadline attached.  What's the significance of May 30?

Is the phony claim that they've raised $2 million and the hope they can raise $2 million by June related to a loan application for which they have to prove they can make the payments?

Any financial institution dumb enough to loan the CMHR money should look at a calender. 

May 30 is one month before June 30, also known as the deadline to pay city taxes. 

The CMHR is already $4 million in arrears,  and, like you, has received its 2014 tax bill.  That should be for another $4 million to $5 million which they don't have.

At the end of last year, the CMHR received the last of the $145 million the federal government has paid into the project.  That means anything they've spent this year (2014) is paid by IOU's and whatever pennies they can pick up.

It's May 24, or what's known in our office as three months to come up with an excuse why they can't open the museum on time -- again.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pitching Hicksville in New York. Winnipeg Symphony supplies the soundtrack.


The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra headed for a concert at New York's Carnegie Hall with all the hype and hoopla of the Titanic leaving port on its maiden voyage.

Bon voyage!

The WSO was one of six North American orchestras invited to perform at this year's  Spring For Music festival.  Here's how the event pitches itself:

Spring For Music provides an idealized laboratory, free of the normal marketing and financial constraints, for an orchestra to be truly creative with programs that are interesting, provocative and stimulating, and that reflect its beliefs, its standards, and vision. Spring For Music believes that an orchestra’s fundamental obligation is to lead and not follow taste.

Okay. Whatever. We're in.

On Saturday, the Winnipeg Free Press devoted a full page and a bit to recap the WSO's May 8 appearance in The Big Apple.  As we peeled away layer after layer of hometown hooey, we thought can it get any sadder than this?

Reporter Mary Agnes Welch laid on the spin as gently as possible.  But that's like saying the food service on the Titanic was a once-in-a-lifetime experience---which it literally was because the ship sank to the bottom of the ocean right after supper.

Surprise!

This time the ship reached port with horns blaring, banners flying and fireworks lighting up the sky.

* "A night to remember at Carnegie Hall" was the headline in the next-day review in the Winnipeg Free Press  (The unfortunate headline is not ours.)

NEW YORK -- There could be no mistake: The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra took Manhattan by storm one explosive note at a time...

*  "... on their own terms, they may be the best orchestra to appear in the week’s worth of concerts." wrote reviewer George Grella for Classical Review ("Winnipeg Symphony brings surprising and spectacular music from the North" May 9, 2014.)

*  "Call me a fan of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid."  blogged Pittsburgh reviewer Elizabeth Bloom.

So, what's so sad?  This sounds great.

It does until you dig deeper into the Mary Agnes Welch story.

Nearly 1000 Winnipeggers came with the WSO to New York, she said. Great, except that the concert attendance was only 1,800, which means more than half the audience was from Winnipeg or ex-patriot Canadians.

 "...dominated by a hometown crowd."

"...a largely Winnipeg audience, made larger by their exuberance."

So you're showcasing the orchestra to yourselves? And acting like the worst homers in history?  "The crowd gave the musicians a standing ovation before they'd even played a note."  Not cool.

The orchestra was accompanied by Winnipeg pitchmen and promoters who just came across as the biggest rubes in the city.

Gary Doer, former premier and current ambassador to the U.S., recited the checklist: zzzzzzzz new human rights museum (to the city with museums up the yingyang), zzzzzzz history of tolerance and equality (to the city that hosts the United Nations), zzzzzzzz community spirit that helped rescue the WSO during some financial turmoil (you want financial turmoil, go to Wall Street and yell Lehman Brothers). 

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce pitched Manitoba`s cheap hydro (about to double in less than a decade), competitive tax structure (unless you pay income taxes), skilled workforce (negative job creation in the past year), and `commitment to major trade infrastructure (or in layman's terms, we build roads)."

Oh, and tourism hucksters touted 'our arts and culture' (bwahahaha. New York is the Centre of the Universe, like they care what`s happening in Winterpeg), polar bears and belugas (yeah, that`s how to say we`re a modern city, tell them about the wildlife just outside our doors), and, of course, the iconic CMHR (to a city with the Empire State Building, the new World Trade Centre, the Statue of Liberty, need we go on),.

`We`ve built enough assets here in Manitoba that you can stay for a few days and not get bored,`` Gary Doer told tour operators, according to the Free Press.

Really?  That's your best shot? Did we say you couldn't get sadder than this?

But the WSO walks away okay, right?   Uhhh....

The Spring For Music festival wants its participants to be provocative and stimulating.  Winnipeg was that.  It was a geek show straight out of Colonel Parker's back pocket.

The WSO presented pieces highlighting an Inuit throat singer and a deaf percussionist.  Er, that's different.  Different as in who the f--- gives a damn.  That's probably why tickets were only $25 and they still couldn't give them away to New Yorkers.

You want to know how the regular schmo classical music enthusiast reviewed the WSO? A commenter on the Pittsburgh blogger's site:

Bill Gapen
THE WSO Carnegie Hall performance was 'interesting'. . Yes - they are unique - yet I am not sure I will be playing their performance as I drive down the road. 
 
Music - it takes a unique ear to enjoy unique sound. I would not go as far as to call it music.. more sound and creativity. 
 
Orchestra - the strings were in very good shape. The horns section though were sometimes out of pitch and there were a few wrong notes here and there from some. 

Throat singing is very unique - although perhaps for a select audience 
 
Percussion with Dame Evelyn Glennie OUTSTANDING.
Audience - a very large contingent from Winnipeg who flew in for the concert. Base on the number of people waving their red kerchiefs and my discussion with attendees. I would hazard to guess the hall was about 70% composed of Winnipeggers. past or current. 
 
While the spirit is live and thriving - one needs to question whether it was a New York performance or a Winnipeg pep rally using a NY venue. For an orchestra to excel with global recognition - wouldn't one want to say that people from all over the world came to witness and enjoy an orchestra? Perhaps it goes back to that unique sound.. yes certainly unique but does it draw an international appreciation ?

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