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Showing posts from October, 2005


" Time to take back our streets " " In your face " " We're coming for you " Tough talk. Mayor Sam Katz declared war on gangs this week. Last year he declared war on mosquitoes, and we all know that campaign went down to abject defeat. The final tally: Mosquitoes : 57 cases of West Nile virus (not all in Winnipeg) Katz: zero credibility as a general and mosquito fighter. The only thing that saved his political hide was having the province order citywide spraying of malathion just as the West Nile threat approached its peak. In his new battle, the only help Katz can call on is Police Chief Jack Ewatski. The irony escaped the mayor. There isn't one person in the city who did more to stop gang prosecutions in its tracks than our hapless police chief. Maybe if he hadn't suspended half the homicide and organized crime unit, only to say 'oops' two years later, we wouldn't be going through this exercise. Of

Lett's talk about Crocus, Katz and Confusion

In the same way you retire to the sofa after a heavy Thanksgiving meal, so we had to sit and digest Dan Lett's Crocus turkey in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press this weekend. It's customary to praise the cook, and on Monday CJOB news director Vic Grant, for one, raved about the dish served up by Lett. But we have to wonder whether he plowed through all six pages of the Lett opus, as we did, because we reach a different conclusion. Since we doubt anyone read the entire six pages, here's the abridged version of the Coles Notes of the summary of the story: 1. The Provincial Auditor's report on the Crocus Fund said that CEO James Umlah appeared to favour a certain company, identified only as Company A, by supplementing the initial investment with 37 further infusions of money. The Fund's own investment department said investment in Company A had gotten "out of control". 2. The Winnipeg Free Press says Company A is Maple Leaf Distillers. 3. The owners of Ma

Why is Manitoba A-G hard on Filmon, soft on aboriginal gangs?

We don't expect much from the Press Gallery at the Legislature, given their dismal performance at the last session, what with barely recognizing the Crocus Scandal , ignoring the doctor crisis in Brandon, and missing O'Learygate entirely. And they rarely disappoint us by rising above the low standards we set for them. But we had hopes that a fresh face would change all that. The Winnipeg Sun's new Legislature reporter Rochelle Squires got her feet wet with a story about the Tory gang strategy going into the next sitting of the Lege. In the interests of fairness, she also spoke with Manitoba Justice Minister Huff 'n Puff Gord Mackintosh. " Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh plans to unveil his own strategy during next week's throne speech. " " Every year we've brought in initiatives and we'll continue to strengthen the justice system ," " said Mackintosh, noting many of the initiatives in the action plan have already been implemented.

Move over Bears on Broadway, here comes Brad Pitt

Pull out your hankies - there will be lots of weeping when the Brad Pitt production The Assassination of Jesse James , comes to film in Winnipeg next week. One of the scenes is going to be a funeral procession replete with wagons and horses, taking the body of the outlaw to the undertakers. Interior scenes were shot in Edmonton last month but the Brad Pitt in the casket was not real, only a very lifelike prop. Maybe he'll choose to go for the ride in Winnipeg. It is common knowledge among those in the loop that historic sites such as the Pantages and Burton Cummings theatres will be used as locations for scenes set in an opera house. However we have learned that the action will head out of the Exchange District (and the 5 day street closures that will accompany the shoot) for a more uptown locale. Move over, Bears on Broadway, here comes Hollywood. Producers reportedly fell in love with the period architecture of the Old Law Courts building which may be used for

Fudging the truth, Governor-General style

It's interesting that in her first formal interview as Canada's new Governor General, Michaelle Jean fails to mention one name-- The Queen-- who she represents by her office. She seems to have adopted the attitude of her predecessor that the Liberal government appointed her de facto Queen of Canada since all she talks about is me, me, me. But then her recall throughout the interview seems a bit foggy whenever it matters most. And reporter Paul Samyn does his best to aid and abet her memory lapses. After all, that's the price of an "exclusive", or rather "faux exclusive" in the Winnipeg Free Press. You see, whenever the Liberals in Ottawa want to plant a story, they deliver it to the Free Press on a Friday to run on Page One Saturday, the most read paper of the week. ( Reporters, especially those of the far left, love to say they speak truth to power. But what they really mean is they want to run anything that hurts George Bush. When it

ADSCAM DNA reveals Patient Zero

Ho hum. Another day, another example of Liberal Party sleaze. Justice John Gomery lifted the lid on the sponsorship scandal a bit more on Friday and this slid out: Top civil servant (Chuck Guite) funnels money from a secret Liberal Party slush fund to a Liberal businessman (Jean Brault) to help the Liberals win the next election. Oh, and fight separatism. He then taps the businessman for over a hundred thou in cash and goodies. The businessman bills the taxpayer to cover the cost of the goodies. Win-win all around, providing you're on the Liberal Party kickback gravy train. While Liberals everywhere now carry the taint of sleaze on them, they don't notice, because to them it's the sweet perfume of power. They don't even worry about Gomery's initial report, now expected Nov. 1. But like most Canadians, we're anxious to see what he says. In fact, we have a special interest because The Black Rod has unearthed the true beginning of Adscam. We found

Memo to Newsrooms: Read the last memo

At the beginning of August, The Black Rod sent this to every newsroom in the city. Memo to newrooms: if you're waiting for an official police news release, it's going to look something like this: There's a gang war going on in the heart of the North End. We called for authorities to make this tit-for-tat exchange of drive-by shootings and firebombing of homes a priority before some bystander was killed. And we challenged the news media to get involved immediately instead of waiting until the worst happened and then singing a predictable chorus of "How did this happen? Why didn't anybody stop it?" Regretably, our worst case scenario is now a reality. And, right on cue, the news media is singing: "How did this happen? Why didn't anybody stop it?" A teenager walking down the street has been shot dead. A second man was wounded and could have been killed as well. Neither had any relation to the gang members shooting up McGee Stre


The Postleman Always Quotes Twice We're not sure what's worse---that Manitoba medical czar Brian Postl dropped a bombshell this week and it wasn't reported in the local news? Or that the Winnipeg Free Press doesn't know who Dr. Brian Postl is? On Thanksgiving Monday, a published interview with Postl had Prime Minister Paul Martin clutching his chest as he lurched to the phone for help---political help, that is. It took some doing, but the Liberal damage-control team had Postl issuing a...what? A retraction? A correction? A clarification? Whatever it was, it was out just before 10 p.m. Eastern time. And, oh the phone calls that must have been made on the holiday. Not to Mom. To news directors and editors to kill the Postl story a-sap. This bombshell apparently only saw the light in the tiniest sliver of the news media --- the Ottawa Sun, CTV, and the London Free Press, as well as Maclean's, where the original interview ran. And the Winnipeg Free Press? Well, it ran a

Manitoba-made Oscars Buzz

This is turning into a remarkable year for movies made in Manitoba. They’re still shooting Brad Pitt’s new Jesse James movie in Calgary this week and next, but then it’s on to Winnipeg for one week. Philip Seymour Hoffman was the talk of the town at the Toronto Film Festival for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the movie “Capote” which was shot in only 36 days in and around Winnipeg last fall. The words used most often were Academy Award. And, believe it or not, there’s some teeny-weeny Oscar buzz for another movie shot (partly) in Winnipeg---The Big White. Written by former Winnipeg newscaster Collin Friesen, the movie stars Robin Williams, Holly Hunter and Woody Harrelson. Shooting was finished almost 18 months ago, and the movie still has no American distributor, but The Black Rod has found the first reviews from film festivals where its being shopped around. THE BIG WHITE has its world debut in Frankfurt, Germany at the German FantasyFilmfest in August and its North American premi

How the Free Press built a smear campaign

The Winnipeg Free Press disgraced itself Wednesday worse than we could imagine. Winnipeg's main daily newspaper continued its smear campaign against Mayor Sam Katz, and deliberately timed its story so that he couldn't respond because of his religious duties on the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. Such a shameful use of a person's religion goes beyond any sense of decency and fairness. It's not like the story contained anything time-sensitive. It's only purpose was to fake momentum for the faux scandal being peddled by the Press. (To understand how flimsy the scandal is, see ) Once journalism students get through studying Free Press columnist Frances Russell and her liberal use of other people's quotes to pad a story she called her own, they can turn to this for a classic case study in political a

BBC admits news game has changed, will CBC be next?

The Black Rod Just a short post today - we thought this item from the wire services would interest our readers and didn't want it to slip by: Media executives ponder role of user-generated news Oct. 05, 2005 AP The avalanche of high quality video, photos and e-mailed news material from citizens following the July 7 bombings in London marked a turning point for the British Broadcasting Corporation, the head of its global news division said Wednesday. Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC World Service and Global News Division, told a conference the broadcaster's prominent use of video and other material contributed by ordinary citizens signaled that the BBC was evolving from being a broadcaster to a facilitator of news .``We don't own the news any more,'' Sambrook said. ``This is a fundamental realignment of the relationship between large media companies and the public.'' Sambrook likened the increasing use of user-gen

Free Press hatchet job on Sam Katz

The smear campaign against Mayor Sam Katz went into overdrive on the weekend. From the screaming headline on Page One of Saturday's Winnipeg Free Press, you would think they had pictures of Katz caught red-handed with his hand in the cookie jar. Saturday Special...mayor voted in favour...a company partly owned by a friend...owed money...Here are the facts. Should KATZ have VOTED? Only...there were no pictures. No hand. Not even a jar. But there was a "Free Press photo illustration" of a scowling Katz superimposed in front of the dink bridge Sals. The "scandal" was thinner than Hurricane Hugh McFadyen's credibility or party-jumpin' John Loewen's loyalty. Reporter Dan Lett would be advised to leave this one out of his scrapbook, unless he's compiling a scrapbook of shame. Placed prominently in the week's top-selling newspaper, you could expect it was well-read. Or, well started, at least, since we'll bet few readers finished the story or un

Lessons in bias: Who will take the Peter Kent challenge

You would think the offer was irresistible, a no-brainer. Federal Tory candidate Peter Kent invites journalism schools to monitor press coverage during the next election to prove or disprove a bias favouring the Liberal Party. How could any journalism instructor in the country resist such a real-life teaching tool? But instead of the chorus of hurrahs we expected to hear, the offer is greeted with tepid interest at best. Are the teacher's afraid of what the students will learn? ********** Peter Kent comes with impeccable credentials. He's a member of Canada's Hall of Fame. He was nominated twice for Emmys during his stay at NBC. He was the anchor of CBC's national newscast, and anyone still wondering about the political bent of CBC employees only has to read The Black Rod's look at their lockout blogs. He's worked in the news business for forty years and is under no illusions that the va