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Showing posts from February, 2009

Porkgate Square One: Harvest insider speaks up

Citizen journalism is literally rewriting the rules of reporting. And one of those new rules is 'everybody knows something'. That means that, thanks to the internet, everyone with personal knowledge can add his or her voice to a story without going through a gatekeeper "professional" reporter for approval. We've been getting an earful from readers about the Picket Pork scandal since our last story. Thanks to them we now know important details of how the government-subsidized pork wound up in the mouths of Free Press employees instead of the poor and hungry it was intended for. And we are one step closer to identifying the person responsible for diverting the food from the needy to the greedy. While some of the info we got has to remain confidential, we also received this detailed response from a Winnipeg Harvest insider. It's long, but read it all; its worth the time and effort. ****

Memo to Gordon Sinclair: Northcott's stress = Porkgate cover-up

Put down that phone. The call to the Pope will have to wait. Apparently city councillor Justin Swandel and Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gordon Sinclair have launched a campaign to have "Winnipeg Harvest boss" David Northcott declared a saint. Not So Fast But, but, but, he works so hard; he cares so much, he drove himself to a heart attack, sniffed Sinclair on Friday. It was the stress, including the stress of "watching the number of hungry mouths that were diminishing slightly at the beginning of last year suddenly climb by three per cent at the end of 2008," wrote Sinclair. What he so carefully failed to write was what happened during the time of Winnipeg Harvest's greatest need, at the end of 2008. At the very time that Harvest was scrambling to meet the demand for food for the needy, highly-paid employees of the Winnipeg Free Press were scrambling to load their freezers with 1500 pounds of prime pork meat that had been donated to Harvest to feed the poor. Th

Canadian Human Rights Museum scamarama - add this to your list, Free Press

Owww. We're still nursing the bruise. Winnipeg got its 10 seconds of fame on U.S. television this month, and whoever said there's no such thing as bad publicity should be shot. Just over 10 million people watched How I Met Your Mother on Monday, Feb. 2. They went away with an impression of Winnipeg, and it had nothing to do with energy, spirit or shiny glass buildings. The episode was titled The Possimpible (the place where the impossible and possible meet, of course). Robin, currently unemployed, gets a letter telling her that her visa has expired and she has five days to find a job in her field (television) or she has to leave New York City and go back to Canada. She's frantic, but fails to get even a nibble. Barney, who has a secret crush on Robin, tries to inspire her to keep looking. He describes her fate if she doesn't. Imagine, he says, you're doing this story on the mayor of Winnipeg's nephew. And you sign off: "Reporting live from the worst place i

The Brian Sinclair cover-up: the timeline tells the tale

Sept. 19, 2008 3 p.m. Brian Sinclair arrives at the Health Sciences Centre. It will be another four and a half months before details of what transpired in the emergency room are revealed. Even then the reports will be so confusing that we can’t tell with assurance which is accurate. The earliest reports say Sinclair arrived by taxi. But Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra says “an unidentified man who drove a white van wheeled Sinclair into the ER and up to the triage desk.” (Winnipeg Free Press, Feb. 4, 2009) Security video shows that Sinclair wheeled himself into the line at the triage desk where the triage nurse on duty was seeing one person ahead of him. “a triage aide then approached Mr. Sinclair, spoke with him and wrote something down on his clipboard . Mr. Sinclair is then seen wheeling himself into the waiting area . (Brock Wright, vice-president of the WRHA, Winnipeg Free Press Feb. 5, 2009) Sept. 20 Sinclair began to exhibit symptoms of the bladder infection

Smokescreens fail Doer, nurses point to known ingredients for Brian Sinclair tragedy

Four days after Brian Sinclair was discovered dead in the HSC emergency room Gary Doer was manoeuvering to use the death to his political advantage. Annoyed by questions from the Opposition, Doer went on the attack against Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen. He talked a lot about accountability. "You want to talk about backbone in terms of accountability, we need no lectures from the Conservative Party of Manitoba. I have stood up in this House every day. You know, I have stood up in this House and I'll continue to do so and he can be accountable for his comments, Mr. Speaker. We've accepted responsibility . He can be accountable for his comments. I can tell you when nurses here-that he is out there speaking about the culture of neglect with people that work on the front lines and save lives every day. He's going to be accountable for his comments and we will be accountable for our actions and comments, Mr. Speaker." And again... "But, Mr. Spea

Fang and Fluffy, the story of two government watchdogs

A week of cascading scandal at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has tossed up a rare opportunity. Manitobans can now contrast the work of two watchdogs of the public interest--the province's auditor general and the chief provincial medical examiner. It ain't pretty. Last week started with Opposition leader Hugh McFadyen's call for the provincial auditor to investigate the WRHA's brown-envelope policy of accepting extra gifts from suppliers who win contracts. As described by the WRHA, after the contractor is selected, a group of four health authority managers open an envelope which contains details of what additional goods and services the bidder is willing to throw in. They call these value-adds. Sometimes the envelope contains a cheque or a promise of a cheque (the stories aren't clear) which the WRHA can cash and spend at its discretion. More than $2 million has been collected in this fashion. Since 2007, all the cash gifts have been controlled by WRHA CEO B

WRHA Board minutes provide clues to the mystery of the brown envelopes

When a reporter came knocking on Brian Postl's door to ask about brown envelopes, he wasn't surprised. Postl, the President and CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, already knew he had an ethical hot potato on his hands. In November, more than two months earlier, the WRHA board of directors had discussed its Value Added Policy. The minutes of that meeting describe the discussion discreetly, with no mention of brown envelopes containing promises of gifts from suppliers... WRHA Board of Directors Page 4 Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 9.4 WRHA Value Added Policy A briefing note regarding the Value Added policy for benefits received from suppliers was provided. The current policy and direction is to not accept "restricted" value adds and to not include these in the bid evaluation process. A general discussion ensued on the reasoning for value add benefits as opposed to reducing the price. Members were advised that the value add benefits have been long standing re

Brock Wright must go. First.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has been misleading the public about the ER death of Brian Sinclair for more than four months. We now know that the conclusions of an internal review sanctioned by the WRHA were blatantly false. The review concluded that "the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr. Sinclair's death did not derive from any action or inaction by any single individual." And it's apparent that the WRHA was prepared to continue the deception right up to, and even after, Manitoba's Chief Medical Examiner forced their hand Wednesday by revealing the truth of what happened. We still don't know why, although we're prepared to venture a guess. They knew there was security video of Sinclair arriving at the Health Sciences Centre on Friday, September 21, 2008, 34 hours before he was found dead in the emergency room, never having been treated by a doctor. Winnipeg Free Press reporter Gabrielle Giroday spoke with Dr. Brock Wright, the WRHA's vi