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Showing posts from April, 2006

Manitoba Conservatives seek a Wizard in the Land of Oz

Manitoba Conservatives are green with envy. They can only stare slackjawed at the federal Liberal leadership race. With each passing day another contender announces. Some days two. Men. Women. Professional intellectuals. Francophones. Former NDP Premiers. Turncoat Tories. Ex-NHLers. All running to lead a party that will go down in history as the most crooked in modern memory.'That shoulda been us -- without the crooked part ' they say in Tory households across the province. The Manitoba party is having its own leadership race, and hardly anyone knows or cares. The race was supposed to re-energize the party in the run-up to the next provincial election. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.Stuart Murray's idea of leadership was to turn the Conservative Party into NDP-lite. The electorate would come around, given enough time, he said. But with the NDP reeling under the Crocus scandal, Conservative supporters were stunned to see how toothless Murray was. He had spen

Buzz says cut-and-run; Military says cut and train

We were just about to post the latest edition of The Black Rod when the Liberals sent us back to the keyboard. Just when you thought the Liberals couldn't possibly get any sleazier, they showed Canada that there was no gutter too deep enough for them to wallow in. Monday, the Liberals decided it was a good idea to play politics with the deaths of four soldiers in Afghanistan. They couldn't blame the Conservatives for sending troops to Afghanistan. They did that. They couldn't blame the Conservatives for improper equipment. They were responsible for that. No, they decided to go after the Conservatives for refusing to lower the flag on Parliament Hill to half-staff after every death in Afghanistan. They plan to make a motion in the House of Commons on that, hoping to embarass the government. They think they can score a few political points, with the help of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. It doesn't matter to the Liberals that this puts them at odds with the military, f

Winnipeg Sun leaves out the best parts

The most important story of the week appeared deep within the Winnipeg Sun last Wednesday. The editors apparently either didn't recognize how big the story was, or, more likely, were too busy filling the white space between the ads to care. They buried it under an irrelevant headline, then, as The Black Rod discovered, cut out the best parts. Right tools for the job? by Stephanie Rubec Senior Political Reporter OTTAWA -- The military is set to scrap major equipment purchases announced by the Liberals that are considered by brass to be lemons or irrelevant. The Canadian Forces, with the blessing of the Conservative government, is also reviewing its hardware shopping list in an effort to find extra funds to pay for expensive Tory priorities. A top officer involved in the large-scale review of equipment said Prime Minister Stephen Harper's military spending priorities, especially icebreakers for Canada's North, are proving to be significantly more costly than the Conservatives

Mayor or Moose?

With its vendetta against Mayor Sam Katz flagging badly, the Winnipeg Free Press rolled out another hired gun on Wednesday. Only this time the result was to turn the already bad show into farce. The Free Press knew they had to plug a gaping hole in their stories. They had tried to turn an innocuous comment by Katz into a scandal. He said that he felt like Hugh Hefner when surrounded by Winnipeg's top five female Olympic athletes. The Free Press tried to stoke outrage, and only managed to turn the paper into the laughing stock of the city. Maybe they hoped that nobody would notice that not one of the Olympians was quoted anywhere in any of the stories the Free Press was pumping out. Do you think the women shared the joke without taking offence? It appears a lot of readers thought that. The newspaper knew they had a big problem. So on Wednesday they turned for help to Shannon Sampert, "a former journalist who teaches politics at the University of Winnipeg". (Note that she

War is Hell, say Parliament Hill reporters

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Don't adjust your monitor. That's just the whine of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. It seems the reporters in Ottawa are having a group hissy fit over the way Stephen Harper is treating them. Poor babies. They've been writing non-stop about the horror their lives have become with the defeat of the Liberal Party. They always preface their whine with a comment that "maybe the public doesn't care, but ..." Memo to the Parliamentary Press Gallery: There is no ' but .' The public doesn't care. Period. Full stop. Shut the ( but ...) up and do your jobs. We all know what hell its been on Parliament Hill since the Conservatives moved in. Stephen Harper won't let you mob his cabinet ministers and screech questions in their faces while hurling microphones at their heads. He won't let you decide in advance who gets to ask questions. He thinks he can just select reporters from the pack, does he? O

Free Press reader shoots down Gord Sinclair

Pfssspt. That's the sound of a political smear going bust. ... and a newspaper's credibility flushed down the toilet. The drive-by attack on Mayor Sam Katz was over so quickly you may have missed all the nuances. So let us recap:The Winnipeg Free Press launched it's smear on Mayor Sam Katz on Wednesday. Katz made a quip to a reporter for Shaw cable news, a show whose audience measures in the low tens. The Mayor said following a public ceremony to honour five Winnipeg Olympic athletes that standing next to so many beautiful women made him feel like Hugh Hefner (who celebrated his 80th birthday this week surrounded by beautiful women). The Free Press seized on the comment and tried to turn it into a full-blown scandal, accusing him of unforgiveable sexism. A reporter finally found one (count 'em, one) critic to say she was upset at the comment. To beef up the story they went to one of their own business columnists to say it was a sign of "systemic discrimination"

Bandidos on the web

Well, we said the new direction for the Winnipeg Free Press was a work in progress, and we're starting to detect the end product. They're turning the newspaper into a magazine. They've scrapped two page of news (Page One and Two). Instead they have a front cover (the former Page One) and a table of contents (the former Page Two). And they don't worry about news anymore. See, for example, what passed for "news" in Wednesday's paper. "Katz ripped for 'Hefner' comment at tribute" declared the headline in a story so special it was shaded to stand out and command attention. And special, it was. It was a classic case of the "Gotcha" journalism which has so degraded the profession that readers are abandoning newspapers by the thousands. We can't blame reporter Gabrielle Giroday because we suspect she was assigned to the story rather than pitching it herself. If we're wrong, then Shame on you, Gabrielle. Because this was a wors

Bandidos, Rutherford, Ritchie and more

Unbelievable. What do they teach people in journalism schools these days? Once upon a time reporters were told to always look for a local angle to a national story. Does it get any better than learning that a suspect in the murders of eight motorcycle gang members in Ontario was spotted palling around with five "burly men from Winnipeg" a week before the killings? Well, nobody at the Winnipeg Sun thought that was important. Monday, they buried the information -- in paragraph seven of an eight paragraph sidebar on the murders. Nobody thought it would make a great top to the story. Or a headline. Or even an overline. It just goes to prove that the Sun's editors either don't bother reading the stories they're laying out , or else there's nobody working there who knows what a news story is. And these are the people the mainstream press calls "professional journalists. * The Guardian published a telling comment from organized crime