Monday, December 19, 2011

History repeats itself: CMHR boondoggles exposed, Free Press attacks Museum critics

Two days late and two dollars short, the Winnipeg Free Press has come late to the games that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights plays with telling the truth to the public about their dubious finances and questionable activities, tactics that have been flagged for years by the very citizen journalists and newspaper readers whom the newspaper of record still deride.

The floodgates sprung a leak about the CMHR work on, or rather in, the ground:

" ... the museum said Thursday evening its critics should be aware the archeological study's final report is still being written and will be released sometime next year.

"We want to ensure we tell the whole story," said Angela Cassie, the museum's director of communications and external relations. "

This comes only 21 months after we reported on Kick-FM the whole story about the Museum running away from any acknowledgement about the lands beneath it being a graveyard.

"The truth about the bones beneath the floor was an inconvenient truth, for the human rights crowd of Manitoba.

Armed with extensive historical clippings and academic studies of the region, Carriere took his case to the vaunted Round Table consultations at the Forks in January, when CMHR officials ostensibly were asking for citizens to come forward with their ideas of which human rights stories the museum should tell.

As he described it, "THEIR JAWS WERE ON THE TABLE".

Carriere is not asking for construction of the Museum to stop.

He is not asking for existing structures to be torn down.

All he is asking for is a cairn, a plaque, a memorial, to allow visitors to the Forks and the CMHR to give pause and remember the exploitation of a native burial ground by land developers.

Apparently, for the Gail Asper's of the world, such an act would require too much time away from high-society hobnobbing and panhandling for donations from gullible school children and photo-op craving Premiers.

CMHR head cheerleader Gordon Sinclair of the Free Press also brushed off the concerns, based on assurances from the museum's handpicked aboriginal "experts" that enabled the pet project of millionaires to proceed unabated." "

The same day, another story exposed even more excuses for why the wheels are falling off the buses to the Museum, and Free Press readers reacted with a barrage of criticism not only for the pet project of millionaires, but for the newspaper that supports it:

"The museum recently revealed its 2013 opening has been pushed back a year, but didn't say why.

Now, 2014 isn't carved in stone either.

"2014 is contingent... by March, we can confirm that date," Cassie said... "When is the optimal time to open a museum? You have one opportunity to throw your doors open to the world."

Cassie said the museum needs to choose a specific month to open that would best align with school tours and conferences anxious to use museum facilities.

She acknowledged some groups have had to postpone such events scheduled for 2013." "

(Online comments)


12:01 PM on 12/16/2011

@soolkyut... What the blackrod does is analysis. Drawing conclusions from the information. They were bang on about the last cost overruns, that were verified three months later by the Freep.


7:51 AM on 12/16/2011

I see they (CMHR) now have a feel good commercial running on TV begging for more private donations. Their "well-heeled" private donors must have finally awakened and shut the tap off. Fortunately our federal government has done the same. Note to Greg and Sam: Any more money into this will be political suicide for you guys. Don't even think about it.

Lubomyr Luciuk

6:16 PM on 12/18/2011

Over budget (again), not paying existing bills, behind schedule by several years, still refusing to listen to what most Canadians want - it seems as if the CMHR needs Jacques Marion of BDO Canada to come in as a third party administrator to sort out this continuing mess - he's not wanted at Attawapiskat so he might as well go to Winnipeg to figure out why this boondoggle just keeps getting further into the hole.

On Saturday, a follow-up story revealed that CMHR board chair Arni Thorsteinson was de-boarding the sinking ship with a startling new detail that pushed readers to the edge:

"Sources say the museum is as much as $45 million over its $310-million construction budget, mainly because of the rising costs of interior work and the technology needed for the unique exhibits that are planned"

A small sample of the 400 comments:

earl tunnley1

9:24 AM on 12/17/2011

Absolutely no more tax money for this very carelessly run project. Not a penny of "bridge" financing, either. Get a loan from a bank or from the very powerful and wealthy supporters. This project was shoved down the throats of the public and the public is saying in no uncertain terms, No to donating money. It's high time the Free Press acknowledged the other side, ie., the public's disinterest and outright opposition to the project. There's a story here, Free Press. Why don't you tell it?

Steven T

9:29 AM on 12/17/2011

Say what you will about The Black Rod Blog, but he's been warning about this sort of thing for quite some time...

Score: 21


12:35 PM on 12/17/2011

I trust the Black Rod blog more than the mainstream press for any news regarding the Human Rights museum.

Reader RJF summarized:

Of all the new projects going on in this city, this was the one we needed the least. It was the media elite who demanded it; not the public

Faced with losing control over the narrative which was decaying under the flood of mismanagement stories, the WFP editorial (credited to "Staff writer") insulted its own readers and told them to start going "MOOO", as they were to be treated as milk cows for the failing CMHR farm, regardless of how they felt.

"It would be unreasonable to demand that the Friends do more, particularly when they are struggling to fill the last $20 million gap. The rising demand on private funds, moreover, means nothing will be left for an endowment fund that was to help bring students from across Canada to Winnipeg.

Nor would it be acceptable to dumb down the museum, or reduce its noble and necessary mission. The city too easily cuts corners on defining projects, such as the downtown arena, which was originally supposed to be more architecturally significant.

The Harper government has said it will not increase its capital or operating grants, but it should reconsider. The original financial projections were simply unrealistic.

Ottawa, which recently awarded $122 million to the Royal Alberta Museum, a provincial facility, needs to show more interest in a museum that will represent all Canadians. Instead, it seems intimidated by a small group of naysayers."

Readers told the Mountain Avenue braintrust how wrongminded they are:


1:11 PM on 12/18/2011

"All Canadians, in fact, should be prepared to stand up for the museum to ensure that it fulfils its destiny as a truly national institution with an international reputation."============== Perhaps the powers that gave the CMHR its 'destiny' shoud have predestined its construction not commence until adequte funding was secured? It is telling that the editor uses a gambling metaphor. This thing was started on a bluff: 'even though we don't have enough money to finsih the museum, if we start building it anyway we will be able to shame the public into picking up the rest of the tab.'========= The proponents of this project often mistake it for an act of human rights. The CMHR is, if anything, a fiction to tell themselves


4:17 PM on 12/17/2011

"Instead, it seems intimidated by a small group of naysayers." SMALL group of naysayers? Nobody wants this thing except the SMALL group of Asper sycophants. It has the potential to turn our city into a laughing stock. Oh wait, it already has.

Blue Rod Blog

2:41 PM on 12/17/2011

The wfp shows it's true colors. This is arguably one of the worst projects, not most important. It's clear the wfp has zero objectivity and abandoned their journalistic integrity regarding this project. For shame

earl tunnley1

10:45 AM on 12/17/2011

The organizers testified before a senate committee that they would not ask for more tax money above and beyond the Fed's contribution. Why on earth won't you mention this fact, Free Press? The public greatly resents having this museum forced on us. That is why their fundraising is suffering. The arrogance behind creating this project without any consent from the public, was astonishing but where was the mainstream media when the difficult but necessary questions needed to asked? You can and will continue to give us advertorials and editorials but we are not drinking your koolaid. You should do yourself a favour and cease trying to market this museum and just report the news.


2:54 AM on 12/18/2011

The best information available on the internet comes from the Black Rod. The Black Rod has been the most accurate source of information on the CMHR.

None of the dismissive and disrespectful attitude towards FP readers who don't drink the CMHR Koolaid comes as any surprise to listeners of TGCTS.

We laid it out 2 1/2 years ago:

"Conveniently, the paper never mentions that Bob Silver and his partner Ron Stern kicked in to the Museum too.

The term "conflict of interest" never crosses the lips of Margo.

Instead, we lack "visionaries". Those who speak out about the obscenity of $300 Million being diverted from existing museums and charities, and from the taxpayer, are not losers like those who oppose the Fort, we're... "people who think small".

Then, she says "my money's on Gail Asper."

In a bizarre twist, the day before the newspaper repeated history and mocked readers "who think small", editor Margo Goodhand was portrayed in a new, tolerant light:

"Free Press
editor Margo Goodhand went outside and waded into the middle of the protest to give the newspaper's side and to hear from the protesters. Goodhand later spoke with the opposition as well.

"This is a free and democratic society, and we welcome opinions of all kinds," Goodhand said.

"I'm glad these people came out to express their perspective, and we will continue to investigate the issue. We will not be intimidated by protests or petitions or threats on either side.

"We stand by our reporters and the work they have done on this story." "

For more about how welcoming Margo has been about differing opinions and her track record when her understanding of the actions of her reporters is proven wrong, see

Readers who have called out the newspaper for their pro-CMHR bias and selective reporting, had best hope the editor doesn't find out where they work or who the funder is.

Hear the full podcast special about the latest Museum debacle and their mainstream media enablers here: