Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Three Books for the Holidays; and a look ahead

I spent more than a few years without a close family situation; so I well remember what it was like during the holidays in the 80's and 90's when various wrestlers, bands and other misfits would be looking for something to do and knew where to find entertainment and a full fridge. A safe haven with no religious overtones as it were.

This year one of our interns, Silent Mitch, is having the time of his life Christmas night at the ol' office, watching a 1990 episode of TSN's Pro Wrestling Plus and asking why the style was so different from area to area, why was there so much noise for the Rock and Roll Express, and was that really Bruno's son wrestling in front of 200 people in a Georgia bar? (When I told him there were hundreds of tapes just like it in our vault, he was speeechless.)

Hopefully everyone's enjoying a peaceful and safe holiday.

Three books we've discussed lately on the show, that listeners have asked for us to put information about online.

* We've given away a number of copies of RETROPEG: Archival photgraphy of Winnipeg in the 70's, by James Donahue. It's a beautiful compilation and really captures the era and long-lost locales. It is available at McNally Robinson's bookstores.

* John Danakas joined us a couple of weeks ago to discuss his latest kids' sports book about a very deserving topic, the history of the black quarterback in the CFL, focusing on former Ti-Cat and Blue Bomber Chuck Ealey. A very special launch of CHOICE OF COLOURS will take place on February 7th and we'll bring you all the details when the time draws near.

* Look at Chapters for Brian Howell's excellent black-and-white labour of love, “Fame Us: Celebrity Impersonators and the Cult(ure) of Fame,” published by Arsenal Pulp Press. Brian travelled all over the continent to impersonator conventions and stage shows and found remarkable characters including Transcona native Natalie Reid --who looks more like Paris than la Hilton does herself. The Jennifer Aniston is a showstopper IMO. And hey, guess which talk show host gets a mention in the acknowledgements?

A New York Times review of the book with some of the amazing pics (and comments from some of the impersonators) is at

Other notes:

* The show will return on Thursday with a special interview with Catherine Ross who is having a New Year's Eve Benefit for the 2nd Kenya Mission. The event is slated for Dylan O'Connor's on Pembina (275-1926 for tickets) and will feature Glen and the Electricity on stage. And scheduled for our New Years Eve episdoe at 4 PM, the return of our favorite graduate, Deniz from Humber College, joining Frank the Italian Barber !!

* In the weeks to come, we will continue to
- detail the dangerous bureaucratic delays of the Public Safety Unit and the Safer Communities Act,
- uncover more on the Derelict Buildings Bylaw mess with Young Josh,
- provide exclusive updates on the federal CANALERT debacle with Spirited Kenny,
- Jet Lag Gavin will delve into the myths of Biofuel as a 'green' initiative.

* And did someone say Police advisory Board biographies and minutes of their meetings?

Remember Councillor Gord Steeves had no idea how the nominees (like the chairman Gerrald Forrest) were to be considered qualified, who decided how long their terms of office would be, and underestimated the honorarium cost by at least 50%?

On the other hand, TGCTS is the only place where you heard that not one more cent of tax dollars above the already-budgeted $100,000 would be at risk if and when this new bureaucracy decides they have to go attend junkets with other similar boards in California or Florida or Timbuktu.

Your tips and comments welcome at
The Great Canadian Talk Show group on Facebook is at

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Read it for yourself-- the Derelict Buildings bylaw report

One listener call that came up this week that had to be addressed, was a request to provide a link to the report presented to the Property Committee about the "success" of the Derelict Building bylaw in Winnipeg.

It's in a PDF file,

Scroll to agenda item number 10 and click on it. It is a lengthy document you can read page by page.

The numbers asked of the administration don't get presented until Page 11.
Numbers like -prosecutions - "33."

Your feedback welcome at

This week- Frank the Italian Barber Monday, Chanukah Tuesday, Kelly Dehn of CTV Wednesday, Jon Waldman of Slam!Sports Thursday and Denise of Body by Denise on Friday !

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oh what will Frank say about the big loss?

Although the team made a valiant effort, the Blue Bombers fell short against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The team played over their heads in making up for the absence of QB Kevin Glenn, and were only one late drive from bringing home the Grey Cup.

Tomorrow on The Great Canadian Talk Show, Frank the Italian Barber and Atlantic Pizza's TJ Bratt will mull over the result and the team's future under the proposed private ownership of David Asper.

Later this week, on Wednesday Kelly Dehn of CTV will give us an eyewitness account of the week in Toronto and of the game; and on Thursday Jon Waldman of Slam!Sports will look towards the changes the team may need to make to finally win the big game.

Plus more news and current affairs, special interviews (last Friday's with Global-TV reporter Mike Brown about local news coverage was fascinating), and of course your calls. Wednesday (after 4.40 PM) also includes a special segment all about how our student ops are Trekkies but only of the original series. It was their idea, but now it gives me the chance to tell the story of how I met Chekov.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Great Canadian Talk Year- thanks to...

Tuesday marks our first anniversary on Kick-FM. My deepest appreciation is expressed to:

Station manager Rick Baverstock for giving me the opportunity to return to the local airwaves and do it my way.

John Pura of RRC has gone way beyond the call of duty to solve computer and operating board emergencies and make sure we never missed an episode.

People in the Control Room over the past year such as senior producer Captain Audio, Shannah-Lee, Gavin, Josh, Deniz ( back to visit in December!) , Matt, Rudy, Dave, and Spirited Kenny, without whom the show would never be heard. They do what I cannot, handle the technical aspects. Their on-air contributions are also a big part of the success the show has enjoyed.

Kenny in particular handled our live remote from Victoria after the Dragons Den appearance expertly, and his CanAlert series is a seriously great story about public safety. And we became involved with promoting the Brewnos through our ops, and I can't wait till the next event on April 5. When we hope to release our new calendar, "The Girls of Humber College."

Regular guests like CTV's Kelly Dehn, The Sun's Tom Brodbeck, CTV's Stacey Ashley, CTF director Adrienne Batra, PCW's Andrew Shallcross, MPI's Brian Smiley, and Professor Levinski, brought important credibility and insight to our coverage of local news. Politicians like Sam Katz, Harvey Smith, Mike Pagktakhan, Hugh McFadyen, Dr. Jon Gerrard, Ron Schuler, Anita Neville, Joy Smith, Stephen Fletcher, House speaker George Hickes, even good ol' Harry Lazarenko, were willing to face tough questions and in so doing allow us to advance and break important stories.

Yoram and Ron East of gave us perspectives on Middle Eastern affairs and the rise of Anti-Semitism; Catherine Edwards told us the ins and outs of cable TV's lobbying the CRTC; Dan Kroffat told how the economic boom in Alberta was leading to the erosion of affordable housing and the middle class.

The combination of newsmakers and news reporters and analysts, set our program apart in Winnipeg as a must-hear drive-time habit.

Music, sports and entertainment is also part of our formula. Whether it was local music with Kelly Fairchild and Brian Cook, sports books with authors Greg Oliver and Chris Jericho, or yesteryear stars such as Jumpin' Jim Brunzell, Baron Von Raschke, 70's CFL-er Bob Lueck and former Winnipeg Jet Jimmy Mann, a unique approach to the non-news part of the agenda has been an important part of keeping the listeners engaged.

The number of people listening and responding has been amazing.

I appreciate each and every listener, each and every email you send; there is widespread support for our premise that elected and appointed officials must be held accountable for the state of our city and province, and the media's role must be carefully scrutinized to help news consumers evaluate the true facts of a story.

We can have a vigourous dialogue and disagree on important issues, but still together we make sure nothing is swept under the rug by the established interests, or by the neglect of reporters and editors.

I want to thank listeners who follow the show via the Sunday replays and those who listen through our streaming signal, and especially all of you who take the effort from thousands of miles away and despite time zone changes, to catch our offerings, including the men and women in our Military in Afghanistan and overseas..

The support of sponsors like Unicity Taxi, Focal Point Optician, Ameixa Deli, Atlantic Pizza,, has kept The Great Canadian Talk Show on the air. That is the plain truth. Please support them as often as possible and perhaps consider advertising on the show as well.

And Frank the Italian Barber too, what a great friend he has become.

One thing doing this show taught me the past year, is that no matter how good the leak, how heated the rant, how many callers I had, the show I just finished was never as important as I thought.

When I would rush home, help to get dinner fixed, unpack my gear, immediately my evening priority was answering important questions from 3 little kids, like "Uncle can you build me a train track pleeease?', "Martin I have a school project, do you have time for a makeover?", and "Marty did you tell Jericho he sucks??".

THAT was important. The times after the show when I spent time with my family and listened to them and helped them with their lives, do homework and play kids games and sports and get pummeled-- the kids made me change gears, stay off the computer, and relax and think how complex it is to raise a family in Winnipeg, which I had not done in over 20 years...

So if you became a regular listener in the last 365 days and want to know who deserves the credit for the show being something you wanted to listen to, it's in no small degree because of a supportive family that I can never thank enough for sacrificing having my undivided time and attention, and taught me a few things along the way about life in the modern world.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fast notes: Jericho replay; Thanks to the St B Riels; Anniversary show Nov. 20th

1) The replay of our much-talked about interview with Chris Jericho is today, Sunday, at 8 PM Central Time.

Exclusive comments from Chris about his earliest days in the local ring wars with the likes of Caveman Broda, Brian Jewel, Bulldog Brown, Mike Lozanski and more. No other interviewer can discuss his meanderings across the continent and the characters whose path Jericho crossed better than myself, since we crossed paths his very first day before I went down the road to Calgary, Vancouver, SoCal and Mexico about 2 years before he did. He said he wanted to do a part two of our discussion sometime this week -- and we are working on it !

Chris wil be at McNally-Robinson at Grant Park Mall on Thursday at 8 PM, to sign his book, A Lion's Tale, Around the World in Spandex.

2) I want to pay a special thanks to the St Boniface Riels and owner Larry Frykas for asking me to make the keynote address at their fundraising dinner this past Thursday.

It was impossible to follow coach Brian Smiley at the lecturn but I did and managed to ellicit some laughs as I compared the indignation of the local media over Smiley's no-punches-landed skirmish with the Stonewall Jets, to the Red Army-clobbering rescue of a 'saluting' Alan Eagleson by Pete Mahovlich and Team Canada 72'. It was a similar salute that presaged the skirmish last week, but alas the "Al Eagelson" is not part of modern sports dictionaries. So I felt compelled to explain it to the younger attendees, and also tell the story of how I bluffed my way into Maple Leaf Gardens at age 14 to meet Johnny Bower. I had a great time, the meal was delicious, the team is learning to win, and Mrs. Smiley does indeed, exist in the flesh.

3) On Tuesday November 20th, The Great Canadian Talk Show will celebrate out first year on the air with 92.9 Kick-FM.

Please let me know, which story we have dissected or broken in the past year has been your favorite and why. (And favorite interview and why too)

Thanks for visiting the TGCTS blog and supporting the show !


Saturday, October 20, 2007

A big week coming up on TGCTS

This coming week is a must-not-miss 5 days on The Great Canadian Talk Show:

Monday: We dissect the latest smear in the relentless anti-Sam Katz campaign spearheaded by Free Press columnist Gordon Sinclair and ask more questions about the different standards applied to Katz than to friends of the newspaper like University of Winnipeg President Lloyd Axworthy; also the publisher of the new Manitoba Score Magazine, Tom Thiessen, will be in studio with Marty and Frank the Italian Barber to talk about his business plan to give amateur sports the coverage it is denied by mainstream media outlets.

Tuesday: Councillor Harvey Smith will appear in studio at 4.05 PM to explain the findings of the City Finance Committee in their investigation into the multi-million dollar overruns for the West End pollution control plant.

Chairman Coun. Mike O'Shaughnessy will only discuss the story with "reporters he has a prior relationship with" at CBC -- despite our numerous requests for an interview. But Smith did not hesitate to agree to answer the hard questions in a face to face. So all of you who "spin the dial to Radio 990" will have to tune in

Wednesday: CTV's Crimewatch reporter Kelly Dehn will review the latest in murder and mayhem and update us on the search for a new police chief; and at 4.40 PM the owners of Krooked Eye Studios will talk about their efforts to find new musical acts and enhance career options for the youth of Winnipeg.

Thursday: Spirited Kenny has been working for months on the 10-year long failure of the federal government to enact a proper warning system "CANALERT" when weather emergencies hit the region. His investigation hit a brick wall with Public Safety Canada -- and what he found out about the projected costs in terme of lives lost and property damage will shock Manitobans; and at 4.45 PM Slam!Sports journalist Jon Waldman will join the show for a look at the top sports stories.

Friday: Internationally reknowned Middle East affairs analyst Yoram Hamizrachi-East of will preview the screening of the Oscar-nominated film BEAUFORT, the story of Israeli army commander Liraz Liberti, who had the duty of holding and then destroying a mountaintop watch outpost while Lebanese bombs dropped on his troops.

BEAUFORT will be shown on Monday, October 29th, at 7 PM, at the Berney Theatre on the Asper Jewish Community Centre, 123 Doncaster. Tickets can be arranged by calling 477-7510 or by going to (click on Ticket central) and cost $8.50 and only $5.00 for students with photo ID. This event, to be moderated by Marty Gold of 92.9 Kick-FM, is sponsored by the Winnipeg Chapter, Canadian Friends of Hebrew University (Ron East, Director).

After the film Hamizrachi-East will take part in a panel discussion with Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi (Ret.), the Dir of Research & Policy Planning for the Orient Research Group Ltd and a Senior Researcher of the Middle East and Radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

And Shaun Myall of Island Sports and Entertainment (ISE) Ltd. will bring the latest exciting developments after our Power Pro Wrestling TV Series pitch scored the highest ever rating for a segment of CBC-TV's Dragons' Den TV show. You can see the actual segment and the aftermath on the main page of

Saturday, October 6, 2007

CBC-TV's Dragons' Den Monday night -- and then we're LIVE from VICTORIA on TUESDAY !

The Great Canadian Talk Show on 92.9 Kick-FM will broadcast LIVE from Victoria, British Columbia this Tuesday, October 9 at 4 PM !

Host Marty Gold, with special guests from ISE Television Ltd., will have exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage of what happened Thanksgiving night, when we made our best "elevator pitch" to CBC TV's The Dragons' Den - 5 of Canada's most successful business leaders - trying to convince them to back our pre-sold TV series.

And Spirited Kenny will be in the Winnipeg studio with exclusive information about the federal CANALERT program, which is supposed to warn Canadians and help protect them from weather emergencies like tornados, but has been strangled by bureaucratic neglect.

Here is the press release explaining what the CBC show is all about:

Power Pro Wrestling takes on The Dragons’ Den, Monday October 8th @ 8PM on the CBC. Check local listings for channel.

Business consultant “Dirty Money” Shaun Myall of Victoria and broadcaster/producer Marty Goldstein of Winnipeg, along with Toronto pro wrestlers "Notorious TID" Chris Tidwell, Matt Berns, and The Hornet, attended a TV taping of the Dragons' Den earlier this spring. Did this cross-Canada team of hungry entrepreneurs get what they set out to acquire ?

* What is the Dragons’ Den?

It is one of CBC’s highest rated, most original programs to appear on the network in years, a pure ratings winner ! Creative Canadian entrepreneurs face off to vie for the Dragons' money and their business expertise to help send their business into the stratosphere of success. Did the 5 Dragons set their fangs into Power Pro Wrestling?

* What is Power Pro Wrestling?

Power Pro Wrestling is, in itself, a TV and Live Event brand developed by Shaun Myall and Marty Goldstein of Island Sports and Entertainment (ISE) Television LTD. The launch is soon to come on stations across Canada and the USA, and will be supported with weekly internet broadcasts of PPW Wired on our website.

Power Pro Wresting proudly hosts the nationwide “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) education program. First launched as part of Marty Goldstein's Rough House Rasslin' events in 2005 at Winnipeg's famous Canada Day Osborne Street Festival, NIMBY explains the true dangers of reckless backyard wrestling to parents and fans, with an eye to keeping our kids safe.

* What is an armchair Dragon?

Viewers don't always agree with the choices made by the Dragons. Think they made a mistake? Cast your vote for the pitch you feel deserves a second chance and you could win $5,000.00!

To vote, register once online with CBC. Then come back each week to log in and vote again. (You have a total of nine chances to vote - 1 per episode.) Go to and log on to vote.

* Power Pro Wrestling on TV?

KVOS-TV in Bellingham, Washington, seen across southern British Columbia, and ISE Television Ltd. have come to a formal agreement. Twelve episodes of Power Pro Wrestling, with Marty calling the action and the outspoken Brother Midnite on colour, will be provided to KVOS for the first quarter. A number of other broadcast outlets have already contacted ISE expressing interest in bringing PPW to their audience.

Exciting All Ages Events and TV Tapings will take place in the following provinces in the months to come:

• British Columbia • Alberta • Saskatchewan • Manitoba • Ontario• New Brunswick

Live Event information will be available soon, visit

Media Contact:
Shaun Myall ISE President (250) 294-6956 or

Click on this link for more great information

Special guest on TGCTS Monday, October 15: Mayor Sam Katz

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and listeners, and to our sponsors:

Unicity Taxi Ltd. 925-3131,
Focal Point Opticians 474-7090,,
Ameixa Deli 488-7024 at their new location inside the Pan Am Pool,
Gateway Enterprises Ltd.,
and Hank Vatt.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Point Douglas residents take back their neighborhood this Wednesday

During today's program, we received an email that is right in line with one of our main themes - crack cocaine and gangs threaten the fibre of our city and the safety of our streets.

We've had many elected officials on the show including Point Douglas MLA George Hickes and Mynarski councilman Harry Lazarenko, who represent the most endangered residents of Winnipeg. Full of platitudes and little in terms of commitment to take on gangs head-on, from two politicians who have been in office for a combined 50 years.

The kids from Norquay School beseached Govenor General Michaelle Jean for relief last June, and spurred the residents committee to take a stand starting with addressing then - CAO of Winnipeg Annitta Stenning during meetings for public input into hiring a new police chief. A mere week after they complained that nothing had been done by police about crack houses on two streets, a SWAT team swooped in.

Now they embark on Phase Two, and will hold a public gathering on Wednesday.

We'll be there, and we hope that people from across the city will come and show their support for the brave adults and children of Point Douglas.

Media Release
Campaign kick off

Wed. Oct. 3 5:30 to 6:15
Joe Zuken Park
Corner of Euclid & Grove St

The Point Douglas Residents Committee is committed to ensuring Point Douglas is a healthy positive community. Unfortunately, crack dealers have become insidious in our community and are involving younger and younger youth in their dealing.

To make a public statement that crack dealing is not acceptable we are formally kicking off a campaign to mobilize the community by holding a campaign launch on Wed Oct 3.

There will be music, speakers and some refreshments.

Speakers include

Hon Gord Macintosh MLA, Minister of Family Services
Sandy Dzedzora Chair Sistars Community resident
Al Cameron Justice Department
Elaine Bishop Exec. Director North Point Douglas Women’s Centre
Sonia Prevost-Derbecker School Trustee
George Hickes MLA Point Douglas
Russ Wyatt City Councillor

Point Douglas wants to show that when the community is mobilized and supported by all levels of government we can rid our community of this problem.

For Evil to triumph all that is required is for good people to do nothing.

For further information contact:
Sel Burrows
Chair Point Douglas Residents Committee 956-4090

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More O'Learygate Daily Questions, Guests galore

A quick note to thank all of you who are emailing the show at with your comments, complimenets and story tips.

Also special thanks to our board ops - Shannah-Lee who returned from a summer job, the versatile Spirited Kenny, pinch-hitter deluxe Dave Shorr, and we welcome the new interns who are learning the ropes with our unique format.

This week has been very busy as we put the finishing touches on an upcoming magazine story; follow-up on the Radocaj murder and the death of former AWA wrestler, Transcona's Monte Black; dissect the Free Press/Lindor Reynolds series on the First Nations CFS failures to save children's lives and the key points the Free Press refuses to report on; and keep an eye on the "Premier Doer Caravan o' Justice Reform" trip to Ottawa to pursuade the feds to toughen the Criminal Code and protect us from car thieves and gang-bangers.

Every day at 4.30 PM, we continue our analysis of the Seven Oaks School Division Swinford Park land development scandal with the Question of the Day. The provincial auditor Carol Bellringer will be explaining her "audit" of the SOSD books to the Public Accounts Committee.

We are putting the unanswered questions on the record to ensure the MLA's have no excuses about what the taxpayers want answers to, such as an explanation why the SOSD has been allowed to cook their books to claim a profit !! when they lost over $300,000 on the illicit venture.

Among the guests this week have been:

- Kelly Dehn of CTV news discussing the arrest of a suspect in the murder of streetwalker Ainsley Kinch;
-'s Cathy Edwards reporting on the CRTC hearings into media conglomeration, and detailing the issues behind her Free Press op-ed piece about the demise of Community Access TV under the Shaw Cable thumb;
- Jon Waldman of Slam!Sports reviewing on the Leafs-Coyotes exhibition tilt at the MTS Centre; and
- Frank the Italian Barber lamenting the upset victory of the Browns over the Bengals that cost him $9000.

On Friday we will take an exclusive look into the University of Winnipeg being caught lying by west end residents about their plans to blockbust Langside and Young Streets as part of their take-over of the Spence neighborhood, and Conservative leader Hugh McFadyen will be on the hot seat about whether the lobby effort in Ottawa was all posture, or if it will garner genuine results to make Manitoba a safer place to live.

And a heads up- next week's guest list is heavy on sports including:

* The new CEO of The Fight Network, George Burger,
* Bodog Fight commentator Paul Lazenby, and
* Spike TV star Samoa Joe of TNA Impact who will be wrestling a future superstar in Kenny Omega, Thursday night Sept. 27 at the PCW event at the Lid Nightclub.

Plus the usual news and public affairs coverage and analysis that Winnipeggers tune in for, weekdays at 4 PM - 5 PM and Sunday evenings from 7- midnight.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Former Winnipeg Wrestler found murdered

I only knew him briefly over a period of about 5 years through the 1980's, starting with me holding a microphone straight up in the air to interview him with New Brand Wrestling on Videon.

Big John Radocaj, who promoter Walter Shefchyk affectionately called Lumpy the Giant, was by far the tallest wrestler around at 6'9", and as Ivan the Giant wrestled off and on from about 1982-85.

He never really took to the effort needed to travel the territories in those days, but at his size he could have made a bundle. He was the proverbial wouldn't hurt a fly kind of giant, very easy going and never in a hurry. And he loved a good sandwich.

Shefchyk even tried to repackage him in what was a major sports scandal at the time, when the wily promoter sidestepped the Manitoba Boxing and Wrestling Commission and started the NorthAmerican Sumo Style Championships.

It was a shoot but the rules made it relatively harmless- striking was limited, there was no submissions holds involved, and it was just a pushing match on mats. A number of Walter's other pro wrestling trainees, including Dangerous Dan Denton, Randy (Unrah) Rose and the recently deceased Monte Black, took part along with Brian Jewel and some other young wrestlers and local athletes.

It was pro wrestlers doing something that was not pro wrestling, but was it exciting watching competitive athletes try to move the immovable grinning man mountain.

Sumo packed the hall a couple of times in St Andrews and Selkirk and drew the attention of Don Stone, the Commissioner, who wanted his piece of the action even though as Walter said, " McMartin, do you think Don Stone would tell Inoki what to do if he ran a sumo show at the Arena? If I was Japanese they'd be asking for my autograph."

The pressure from the government kaiboshed the business and with it, Radocaj's career as an athlete.

Last Friday, a man was found dead in his home in Manitoba's Interlake region near Inwood, about 50 miles North of Winnipeg, not far from my mother's ancestral home in Narcisse. An autopsy at the St. Boniface Hospital revealed he had died of blunt force trauma. He was mis-identified on TV as "I-van Rad-o-cay", not "Rad-o-cadge", so at first I did not connect the 43 year old's passing with someone I knew.

At 1.30 this morning, I realized that Ivan = John, and that a link to my past was the victim. RCMP continue to investigate and later, on today's show we'll discuss some of the events of John's life, his misfortunes, and what we know about his tragic end.

Our condolences to his parents and siblings.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Magnus Avenue fights back; Where's the love for Indian Jack Jacobs?;

We had the exclusive in-depth interview last week about how the families of Magnus Avenue began to fight back, and challenged their elected officials to lead.

A class project idea turned Selina Driskell into a focal point of the safety issues on the beleagured street, as she helped spearhead a street festival using the grounds of William White School. On ten day's notice and with no funding, community groups such as Prosvida Legion, CEDA, and MADD.

Although the mainstream media missed the point, seeing only the usual kids games and aboriginal music to hot fdog line-ups video, we knew this was about a neighborhood that needed a break to fight the rancid 'Homicide Heights' monicker slapped on them by the Free Press. About 300 folks of all ages and plenty of kids wandered through, with the usual distractions and crafts for play.

And notable by their absence- although Selena said that the invites went out very late and I won't argue with her on this - but we couldn't help but notice there was no sign of either Councillor Harry Lazarenko (Mynarski) or Member of the Legislature, George Hickes, who received a retroactive $7500 pay raise as Speaker, rammed through the House the day before summer break, by his colleagues, with no public input ( a move Liberal leader jon gerrard admitted on our show wasa "mistake" by the opposition).

Last Friday Selina stated the case for why the neighborhood had to take a stand and show solidarity, an event organized without any of the resources of groups like the Social Planning Council.

All summer long, none of these type of funded groups did a thing for the people of Magnus, and they finally had to do it for themselves. When I asked her about what she expected from the two politicians, Selena said they had to come forward with a plan to help the neighborhood and to "show some leadership".

We'll get her on again and if you want to read more about Selena and her fellow students work behind the scenes at the event -- and why this little street party has scared the establishment -- check out the story and photos in the Neighborhood Living newsletters at coffee shops, restaurants and stores around town.

Tom Brodbeck of the Winnipeg Sun was on the show Tuesday and if you missed it, it was a real eye opener. he explained how the family of Crystal Taman was forced to remove negative comments about their experience with the justice system and their view of the process from their Victim Impact statements. This criticism was removed without them knowing abotu the Plea Bargain and dropping of the Refuse Breathalyser charge on the accused, then-cop Derek Harvey-Zenk.

Tom also broke the story about how the much-touted Victim's Bill of Rights was being completely ignored by Crown Attorney's despite the NDP's assurances they are about the survivors.

We also had time to discuss is exclusive revealing that employees of the Casinos were being given anti-car theft devices.

Not the NDP mandated, MPI approved immobilizers, silly.
The Club.
1800 of 'em.

May the record show, not one Steering Wheel Lock has ever caused an electrical failure in a vehicle.

Tom again made the point, that MPI cannot provide any real statistics about the failure rate of Clubs.

We also gabbed for a minute aout the renaming of Arena Road after Bomber alltimer Milt Stegall. I felt they were tryign to elimnate any memory of the winnipeg arena, and to boot, of they wanted to honour a football player, how is it that the player responsible for there even BEING a Polo Park stadiumm, is iunrecognized?

Of course I was refering to the former Green Bay Packer, passing yardage-record setting, kicker and all-around athlete, Indian Jack Jacobs. His popularity and leadership forced the team into new digs when they outgrew Osborne Stadium. No one wants to name a street after him.

I wonder why.

And to better explain why the attempted cockpit intrusion on the WestJet flight is going to be a hot issue, we looked back at the case of FLIGHT 327, when wirter Annie Jacobsen spotted and reported about a group of 13 Syrian "musicians" -flying one-way on expired passports and paying cash for the tickets- who engaged in a dry-run highjacking on a Detrroit - LAX flight. We discovered that the incident was never properly investigated or reported to the Homeland Security Office.

So if the USA in a post-911 environment can screw these things up, it is up to citizens themselves to keep an eye open and when we do come forward, we have the right to expect the authorities will take action and not cover things up.

Google "flight 327 annie jacobsen" and read the details, and start hoping that the same shenanigans she saw weren't at play on the WestJet flight.

And of course, a little more on O'Learygate and the parts of the audit that make no sense. Today's installment - a land deal the province's report said lacked proper documentation and may have favored a developer? The Auditor found all the paperwork in order and nothing to see here and move along, please. Unlikely. We'll have more on the show tomorrow - today I guess - along with the whistleblowers' latest comments about what it was like to sit through the meetings where the Seven Oaks School Division concealed their illicit participation as a developer.

And yes, Frank the Italian Barber really is being looked at for a radio ad. If you can do a Ukranian baba or male or female chinese accents, drop us a line.

PS: Please take the time to read my new column in the latest edition of Grassroots News via . Thanks for supporting our show and our sponsors.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Exclusive: Pictures of the $819,000 Swinford Park Eyesore

Last night we received another email from the Seven Oaks School Division whistleblower, Robert Snyder.

He took a series of photos of the scene of the never-authorized school site and illicit land development west of Main Street, covertly undertaken by the SOSD and ignored by NDP-connected officials at the Public Schools Finance Board and by the Education Minister Peter Bjornson.

Although the Provincial Auditor claims the project has a value of over $819,000, you the taxpayer can judge for yourself.

Have the weed-filled ditches, dirt berms, and muddy trucktracks on the site, enhanced the value of the site and the homes beside Swinford Park ?

Or do you think the property now appears LESS valuable because of the harm done to the environment (look for the pictures of the 'frog pond') and because of the unsightly construction mess of a "school" which may never be built ?

Tell us what you think Well have more on O'Learygate tomorrow and Friday on our show at 4.35 PM.

Here is the email with the link to the pictures:


Here is a photo essay I put together showing the "improvements"made to the Swinford holding of the SOSD.

-- Robert Snyder
WebLog at:

I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up. - Tom Lehrer

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Seven Oaks School Division whistleblower: Bjornson should resign after Special Audit into O'Learygate

Today listeners of The Great Canadian Talk Show heard the exclusive comments of Robert Snyder, whose questions to Manitoba Education Minister Peter Bjornson about the concealed role of the Seven Oaks School Division in an illicit money-losing land development scheme led to a 20 month long audit.

Snyder says that now it is confirmed his questions were totally ignored by the Minister, Bjornson "should be asked to resign".

Snyder detailed the abusive treatment he was subjected to on his website, He was given a misleading response drafted by the people behind the unauthorized foray into Swinford Park which was then signed by Bjornson. In 2005 Bjornson told the Legislature he had never gotten a complaint about SOSD and then had to recant when the letter was produced.

And that's not all.

* Snyder questions whether unauthorized officials had access to his email before the Minister and began to organize a speedy cover-up before the complaint was passed on;

* He asks why the auditor, Carol Bellringer, did not examine all the land developments in the area on both sides of north Main Street or the role of the planner Lombard North, which has made a sum almost equal to the loss suffered by taxpayers;

* Snyder details the demands made by the developer when Snyder asked about buying the property adjacent to his home;

* and he also describes unsightly unfinished landscaping and a disturbing incident the day the audit was released, pointing to the School Division harassing Snyder and his Donan Street neighbours whose properties back onto the weed and dirt berm mess of a "future school site", which is still not approved or even scheduled to be built.

Snyder boldly cc'ed all the SOSD trustees with his reply to my request for an interview. Here is the text of his comments with excerpts of what he was responding to from my request italicized in (brackets).

Marty and To all addressed in the headers of this message

At this time I will respectfully decline your generous offer to be interviewed on your Radio show, Marty. I will give you full permission to use anything published on my web-log, Manitoba TaxPayer, to express my opinions.

( Marty wrote: I am confused why Mrs. Bellringer did not include your email to the Minister in the timeline and ignored the 'coincidence' of all the activity to legitimize the land deals after you blew the whistle.)

It was sort of included in the time line but did indeed ignore the coincidence of all the activity. It seems like someone at SOSD or their consultant, Lombard North Group, read the email letter before the Minister and expedited the activity.

( Marty wrote: I want to pay particular attention on how you as the whistleblower was treated, and on how the Division and Finance Board officials have all had convenient memory losses about their meetings and discussions. )

I was in awe by the stupidity of the answer supplied by Bjornson and chalked it up to experience. A minister should be asked to resign for putting his signature to any statement that absurd!

Also, in June 2004 I inquired about purchasing the property to the north side of my Donan Street home which I had been maintaining (cutting grass, killing weeds) since I moved there in May of 1985, and was surprised that I had to deal with the planner, Mr. David Palubeski. Apparently he had considerable influence.

The terms described by Palubeski were subject to 7 Oaks approval and included my assuming responsibility for all costs including:

1. City application charges and fees
2. Survey, planning and legal costs incurred by 7 Oaks associated with the the transfer.
3. All your own costs.
4. A purchase price based upon the square footage cost of

This was before the letter to the Education Minister.

After that the terms changed in that I would also need signatures of the neighbours saying that they approve my ownership of that particular piece of property. At that point, the negotiations stopped.

( Marty wrote: Also nowhere in the audit is the profit or fees for the "Planner" itemized nor are they even identified ... This flip flopping of school location when it wasn't even approved to start with, doesn't pass the sniff test in my opinion. )

As it says on my WebLog, the "Planner" was/is Lombard North Group and the presenter for them was one Mr. Dave Palubeski.

One might ask him, and O'Leary a few questions on how he became involved and if a tendering process was undertaken to procure a "planner" or if a "planner" was even necessary when the Land Management Services, a Special Operating Agency of the Province of Manitoba was available to assist them.

As the original intention was to deliver a new "West Kildonan Collegiate", I would have preferred to see a full audit of whole project up to this date. This would include the "River Ridge" school site and adjoining residential and commercial development not just the"Swinford" development.

I would also like to know why construction machinery appeared on the 819,810 dollar "Swinford" future school site on Thursday, August 16, 2007. Was this a red herring to distract the community from looking at the OAG report? Will the cost of this operation be added to the 819,810 dollar value of the future school site?

The equipment promptly disappeared that same Thursday evening and never appeared again on Friday, leaving the neighbors and I a large ditch and a large burm of the material removed. Will this new project be completed in a timely fashion???

And what happened to the "Swinford Park Seven Oaks School Division Frog Pond Construction Project" that was begun in October 2006 (about 4 months late)? It is currently a ditch with a little water in it, most of which the Grady Bend homeowners pumped outto water their newly laid sod and a stockpile of fill material which is covered with weeds which lies to the north side of the Grady Bend properties.

So now I have another ditch to the rear of my property as well as a new stockpile of material that will soon be sporting a covering of weeds which will certainly increase the value of my property.

Again, I will respectfully decline your invitation to participate in the review.

Thank you for the offer,
-- Robert Snyder
WebLog at:

Our special series into the findings of the Audit, and why some think the scope of the report was crafted to allow for a cover-up of how NDP operatives at the PSFB and SOSD knowingly violated the law prohibiting the use of tax dollars for land schemes, will continue at 4.35 PM all week on our show.

I leave you with the tag line appended to the end of Snyder's email to myself and the school trustees:

Several excuses are always less convincing than one. - Aldous Huxley

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The best topics, insight and guests all summer long on TGCTS

First of all a big thanks to our sponsors Unicity Taxi, Canada Sheli and The Focal Point on the U of M campus. If you know of other potential advertisers or sponsors please email us and we'll follow up. We;'d love to expand to two hours daily but we have to sell out our available ad time first before we can grow the show.

Starting this Thursday we're going to be giving away vouchers for Unicity Taxi service in a special contest involving song lyrics. Tune in to win!!

As we wind our way through summer, we've brought all the news and views about issues like:

* the downtown nightclub shootings at ALIVE and Metro Nitelife and the pressure from downtown hotspots for police to park outside ritzy clubs when they claim they cannot spare manpower to patrol residential neighborhoods like Spence and Magnus;

* the role of doormen and the apparent lack of cooperation between nightclub security and the police force;

* the total lack of responsibility taken by child welfare agencies for the murder of kids in care like Gage Guimond and Phoenix Sinclair;

* even as car theft rates supposedly go down, attempted theft and vandalism goes up by about the same percentage and repeat teen offenders continue to be put back on the street to steal, maim and kill innocent victims like Jimmy Duane riding his bike on McGregor;

* inside analysis of the Spirited Energy PR campaign billings and especially the focus group poll results which rejected the slogan that the Premier's Economic Advisory Council -- led by Free Press owner Bob Silver and MFL and former Crocus insider Robert Ziegler -- still tried to ram down the public's throat at our own expense.

Special guests the past two weeks have included City Councillor Harvey Smith, CTV reporter Stacey Ashley, Greg Oliver co-author of one of the best books about pro wrestlers ever "The Heels", nightclub security director Andrew Shallcross, and Erin Nuttall of Graffitti Gallery bringing us all the details on MuralFest.

Tune in every day at 4 PM, or catch our replays starting 7 PM on Sunday nights, and you can even listen online via the website.

PS: Catch our new sports column for Grassroots News

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

We now resume regular blogging...

Sorry for the interruption. I've noticed a fair amount of traffic still comes here and I wanted to update the basics.

The weekly update was discontinued due to a variety of issues -- mostly time management with so much on the go, and the fact that to stay on the air we have stayed focused on building the radio audience and developing relationships with sponsors.

If you believe in what we do on TGCTS and want to support alternative news gathering in Winnipeg, please contact us about creating a special ad campaign on radio and in print for your service or business. To keep the program on the air and to expand to two hours, we need the support of listeners and businesses in Manitoba.

Yes Winnipeg's only drive-home call-in show is still on the air from 4-5 PM Central time daily and replayed Sunday nights from 7-midnight. The Sunday night replays have become very popular with summer cruisers.You can tune in via our website .

Our guests the past 3 months have included political leaders and candidates, media and sports personalities and one of my proudest scoops, the world exclusive interview with Bill Otten, a Florida photographer who discovered the late Nancy Benoit. My stories about the murder of Nancy and her son Daniel can be found on the front page of and have been noted by The Wrestling Observer and other media.

We kept the spotlight on the mayhem engulfing Magnus Avenue and forced the councillor Harry Lazarenko, as well as their MLA George Hickes onto the hot seat, and grilled Mayor Katz as well. We also watched the rise and fall of former Free Press publisher Andy Ritchie.

I will try to get one of our interns to summarize the shows for May June and July and then resume blogging about our show and the stoires we cover.

A major break came in June, when the company formed by our business expert, Shaun Myall of Victoria, was selected to appear on CBC-TV's Dragons Den series for the fall season. Along with Chris Tidwell of Toronto and two young wrestlers who were spectacular performers, ol' Dirty Money and I pitched the millionaire panel for $$$ for our upcoming Power Pro Wrestling TV show on KVOS. You won't believe the way the segment play out.

Very shortly I will be announcing two sportswriting gigs that have come my way, which will be in addition to my columns on

In the meantime if you have any comments or story ideas please email us at



Thursday, March 29, 2007

CBC poll results help us expose Free Press spin; March 19th -26th

Over the weekend the Winnipeg Free Press released the results of a poll conducted by Probe Research about opolitics and issues. This resulted in an opportunity to provide another lesson in journalism for our listeners, because the story was not in the poll itself, but in the way the paper manipulated the results.

On Tuesday when the CBC released their own results -- from the same poll -- of questions they asked of the electorate, the lesson became a weeklong journey into how mainstream media uses polls to create news and then confuse voters by presenting the information in a twisted manner.

The Free Press reported that the Doer NDP government and PC opposition were tied in popular support among decided voters at 40%, but the riding splits would give the NDP another win at the ballot box.

Our focus was on the Freep's coverage of one issue in the poll questions- about the Crocus Investment Fund scandal.

Freep analyst Mia Rabson repeated the "finding" that only 2% of those polled said the Crocus scandal would affect their voting intentions. She said that this was in spite of the damaging insider leaks about the government ignoring red flags had been before the people while the poll was in the field, and that Premier Doer had skillfully deflected the concerns and disarmed the opposition.

Yet the pollster himself said, he had no idea what the rsult would have been had respondents been asked about Crocus directly. And she neglected to include polling evidence that would have shown, the leaks preceeded the collection of the responses - and also neglected to mention that her newspaper had delayed reporting on some of the leaks until the very last day of the poll, when EVEN more documents were made public which have still not been discussed in the Free Press.

Of course what else did we expect the newspaper to say. The reporters and columnists have to pretend it's a non-issue because they are hopelessly conflicted in covering the Cabinet cover-up, having been the de-facto house propaganda organ for the Fund and mastermind Sherman Kreiner for years until the 'sudden' collapse. And they do this in direct contradiction to the numerous Freep editorials calling for a public inquiry.

* The Dan Lett apologia for Crocus via a "Grit source" had been run up the flagpole weeks ago and was rendered laughable by the reveleations from within the Deprtment of Finance.
* A desperate Frances Russell tried to advance Lett's transparent attempt to rehabilitate Kreiner with her own anonymous-sourced scribblings, in which the fact Crocus had violated the prospectus was considered "debatable" despite admissions in leaked documents and the finding of the Auditor.
* The recent leaks - detailed by the Sun's Tom Brodbeck, which the Freep tried to ignore while the poll was going on - proved the Department of Finance and Minister Greg Selinger were up to their eyeballs in trying to find ways to prop up the Ponzi scheme going back to 2000.

Now Rabson tried to tell us all, only 2% of you cared about Crocus- never mind that the pollster admitted that while it was not a top-of-mind response, he had no way of knowing what the results would have been had people been asked. (By the way, statistically 2% equals the ratio of Crocus investors in the general voting population. Big surprise, that result.)

But they voters polled were asked about their impressions of the Crocus scandal -- just not by the Free Press, but rather by CBC.

And those results of specific Crocus questions asked by CBC blew the last vestiges of Free Press credibility on anything Crocus Fund related out into the orbit of slanted reporting.

To make this simpler, here is a link to the Probe Research results:

Here is what we explained to our listeners, about what the results REALLY mean, and how Crocus could impact the next provincial election:

54% of all respondents wanted a public inquiry into Crocus.
48% of NDP supporters who answered the poll, wanted a Crocus inquiry.
37% of respondents said Crocus would play an extremely important or some role in how they vote
59% of respondents followed the ongoing Crocus developments either closely or to a limited extent
55% of respondents who followed the scandal closely said it would impact their voting intentions
30% blamed the Doer government in whole or in part, for the collapse of the Fund
20% of those who folowed the scandal closely blamed the Doer government

The real story here, ignored by the Free Press and missed completetly by MSM, is that for a voter who follows Crocus, the more seriously they viewed the role of the NDP government and the more likely the scandal would affect their vote, and that even declared NDP supporters do not buy the standard excuse of Doer and Finance Minister Selinger that they were somehow exonerated from responsibility by the Singleton audit.

A final interesting point was the finding that 63% of those 18-34 paid "little or no attention" to Crocus.
That same demographic is also least likely to have invested in Crocus, least likely to follow the news, and least likely to vote.

Even the breakdowns of the socio-demographic support of the parties was bungled by reporters and their editors. The PC's showed a 10 point lead among high-school graduates; the NDP held an 11 point lead among college drop-outs; and the parties were within the margin of error ( a 2 point gap) in support among University grads.

While the Free Press cited the Tory as only leading among high-school grads, they did not explain how that translated into a statistical tie in the middle income grouping and a 44-38 lead among those voters earning more than $60,000 a year.

And then there is the results of questions about top-of-mind issues. Only months ago pollsters were swearing that health-care was not a concern and infrastructure was the vote-moving issue. The voters apparently missed that pronouncement.

"health care/wait times 34%, infrastructure/roads 14%."

Other results of CBC's poll questions showed that in every category voters felt the NDP had performed worse or stayed the same since their election in 2003 - Health Care (74%), Universities and Colleges (70%), Public schools (77%), Economic management (76%), and Environment issues (68%). Although some pundits claimed that by combining the "better or the same" responses , the poll showed the government was doing fine by voters, we made the point that people vote, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, on the basis of whether things are better or not. By that measure the Doer government may have reason to feel antsy when voters are asked to judge their record at the ballot box.

Other guests and topics included:

Monday: The Universoity of Winnipeg was threatening staff layoffs unless cutbacks were achieved, all the while planning massive expansion plans - and faculty and students reacted strongly to the skewed priorities as reflected in the administrative hirings by prexy Lloyd Axworthy; and Frank the Italian Barber joined us in studio with his NCAA basketball predictions (UCLA all the way).

Tuesday: Adrienne Batra of the CTF tore into the federal budget as a strange hybrid- Big government conservatism with a side dish of appeasing Quebec with $2 billion; and Jeff Dveris of the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association explained why car dealers felt the feds should have provided incentives to get old higher-pollution beaters off the road rather than tax newer, more fuel efficient SUV's.

Wednesday: Kelly Dehn said we had been way ahead of the curve in identifying car theft and lax criminal sanctions as a serious election issue, as Manitoba Justcie Minister Dave Chomiak headed to Ottawa to lobby for changes to the law to allow for prosecutuion of young offenders; and we were the first to tell Manitobans about the not-so-secret plan of Free Press publisher Andy Ritchie to spend up to $150 million to thwart any move by Quebecor to bring their free morning tab 24 Hours to Winnipeg with his "Project Eclipse".

Thursday: Gord Sinclair tried to blame the Aspers for a security video from the CanWest concourse ending up on YouTube. Junior complained that by showing a native man having a bowel movement in a potted plant while pedestrians walked by, the man's privacy was invaded (as if taking a dump in a public place was a private matter). It seemed to us a self-serving pre-emptive move by Sinclair to play the privacy card in case a video of his admitted verbal abuse and near-assault of a female gas station clerk emerged.
As well, Sports Illustrated had broken a story about a steroid and HGH scandal that found many prominent pro wrestlers including current TNA star Kurt Angle and WWE tag champs Edge and Randy Orton had gotten internet prescriptions filled in 2004/05 by a doctor under FBI investigation, causing a media backlash for WWE heading into Wrestlemania.

Friday: National Post chairman David Asper wrote a scathing rebuttal to Gord Sinclair's column which we read verbatim, as Asper explained what privacy rights really meant and why Sinclair was off-base; We complimented Davey O'Brien's column in the Free Press about the evil of anti-Semitism; A strategic Counsel/CTV poll showed the Harper government with 39% support as the Dion Liberals falter; and CFUN radio in Vancouver was knocked off-air by thieves who broke into their transmitter location and stole the copper (!).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Leaked emails cast NDP Crocus denials in new light- March 12th - 16th

Another week of digging into the Crocus story, spurred on by more Tom Brodbeck bombshells about the Crocus Investment Fund in the Sun over the weekend. Then we got into the act by getting our own copy of the newest batch of leaks coming out of the Department of Finance. The Free Press didn't have em, the Tories didn't have em, but we did after an on-air surprise email. It led to us breaking more news and analysis that closed the gap between the NDP government and the collapse of the Fund.

Monday: We kicked things off with an interview with Sprinfield MLA Ron Schuler. Tarring the government as being knee deep in covering their tracks, Schuler said the Brodbeck excerpts proved that the government knew about trouble at Crocus and should never have allowed John Loewen to be stifled by Crocus officials when he tried to raise alarms in Feb. 2002. While he was defending Loewen, an email arrived on our screen with the emails in full, a startling sequence outlining a discussion between senior Finance officials in November 2000 as Selinger was briefing cabinet.

The emails made clear, that Crocus was headed for trouble when shares were scheduled for redemption, because no one wanted to buy the companies their investments were tied up in. It was in plain English, that monies from new investors were going to have to be used to pay off people cashing out- instead of being invested in Manitoba businesses as required by the law. And despite government protests that they didn't do anything to prop up the fund, it was apparent various changes were made in the years after that had been specifically asked for by Crocus management.

Schuler again went over what happened at the Public Accounts meeting and said that it was now glaringly obvious the government has tip-toed around questions of who knew what and when, and that the Singleton audit never could have been based on this earliest evidence of red flags waving inside the government.

Data Analyst Paul Sveinson came on the line and said that the emails proved that the prospectuses were misleading for years. He said focus should also turn to the role of the Fund's underwriter, Wellington West, and the auditor PriceWaterhouse Coopers, who signed off on the prospectuses knowing that a Ponzi scheme was at play. We also broke the news that Sveinson had filed a complaint with the Federal Auditor-General Sheila Fraser, asking her to investigate because 50% of the tax credits were from the federal treasury.

In other news, we noted that news of the Spirited Energy audit was 6 days old and still hadn't rated as news in te pages of the evidentally conflicted Winnipeg Free Press.

Frank the Italian Barber joined the show to review the suspension of Islander star Chris Simon for stick-mugging a Ranger player in the mush; the suspension of NHLPA exec Ted saskin during an investigation into accessing players email accounts, and the life and times of former Grambling and AFL football legend and pro wrestling headliner Ernie "the Cat" Ladd. Ladd, who passed at age 68, was the biggest man in both sports in his day, helped conquer racial divides in locker rooms and had influence with 2 US presidents.

Tuesday: The Spirited Energy audit still hadn't hit the pages of the Free Press but the leaks that appeared in the Sun on the weekend finally made it to page A6. However Brodbeck unleashed anotyher leaked document in todays paper, keeping the Freep way behind the curve.

We looked deeper into the details of the emails, and took advantage of a rare opportunity to look inside the workings of government to see how they assessed, analyzed and prepared spin over the brewing Crocus debacle. The emails opened a window into how they massaged the trust relationships with Crocus, as senior Finance officials debated which kinds of legislative changes to recommend if any. The practice of "good news signed by minister, bad news by deputy" was one lesson we learned; another was that the bureaucrats read the mood and correctly surmised that Crocus officials would wave the letter sent by the government as a shield against any future scrutiny by the Industry department.

Bernie Bellan said he was of the view that Finance Minister Selinger may have had very good intentions by propping up the Fund with the changes, but that Bellan and other shareholders had been duped and the province had to carry the bag.

One of the legislative changes made was to allow investors to re-up without a cooling-off period as was originally required; Crocus needed the money to pay off other shareholders and Bellan (for one), saw the change as a vote of confidence for the Fund's health, rolled his money over into the Ponzi trap and gotten fleeced by the false prospectus. Bellan also read between the lines of a statement made by Selinger to the Accounts Committee that the shareholders would have some satisfaction via the class action suit, which Bellan interpreted as meaning the government would rather negoiate a settlement than slug it out in court. He also raised the same questions Sveinson had, about the role of the underwriter and auditors in failing to report the problems to the Securities Commission.

During our news round-up we read the report of 3 boys being arrested for mowing down the Wellington Crescent jogger, and realized that one of them had also been involved in last week's demolition derby on Boyd Avenue. One of the other boys had been awol from his probation officer for 3 weeks. So much for the province's monitoring protocol as an effective deterrent.

Wednesday: CTV crime guy Kelly Dehn reviewed the arrest of 3 youths in the Jogger run-down, and said that the public outrage in this matter was going to force some serious political repercussions at the provincial and federal level. He also discussed the federal Liberals announcement they wanted to commit $2 million dollars to fight crime in a suddden conversion to a law and order platform for the next election. "Professor" Dave levinski called in and in a serious vein, said the plice should be recognized for announcign that many suspects and perps of youth crime like car theft are voctims of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and lack basic hard wiring to know right from wrong. He went on to ay that FASD had to be dealt with as a health issue so as to recognize potential problem kids and engage in deterence strategies.

Our other news focus was on the Crocus leaked documents and our reading of them, that the "higher authority" mentioned in the Singleton audit who evidentally authorized certain practices of the Crocus operation - now that we know all of Cabinet was briefed and that Finance made legislative changes in response to Crocus' appeal for help, was the higher authority actually all of Cabinet and not just a single indiviuidual as had been theorized for 2 years?

In sports, we broke the story of Winnipeg boxer Chad Brisson, who went to Federal District Court in Philadelphia to get out of a restrictive contract with big time promoter Russell Peltz. The lightweight contender made Peltz back down and rip up the deal, in the face of damaging evidence that Brisson was being manipulated to sign a new long term deal before getting his promised fights and expenses.

The Sun's Paul Friessen wrote a column attacking Mayor Katz for his analysis of the Blue Bombers "in the black" budget announcement and pointing out the team still owed $3 million for a loan middlemanned by Winnipeg Enterprises. Katz said the team was basically in the red especially when the tax concessions and other government grants were factored in (and what if the Grey Cup hadn't rolled into town?). Friessen made claims about the amount of money that went into Katz' Goldeyes stadium, inflating the correct figure by millions, and insisted that Katz was fronting for David Asper's take-over/stadium bid because the naming rights to the Goldeys home park were due to expire in 2 years.We clarified the obvious mistakes and also explained the naming rights weren't up for another 20 years.

Most importantly, Friessen senselessly ragged on the Mayor for insisting the Stakeholders Committee hadn't been legally disbanded. Friessen repeated the Bombers lie -- and left out the part where Premier Doer himself had stepped forward months ago to say, the team was wrong and the Mayor was right, and the Stakeholders Ie the city and province -- still had a say in the team.

Thursday: Tom Brodbeck returned to the show and went over the leaks from insiders about Crocus as it dissolved. He also joined in a dramatic recreation of an interview on CJOB's Larry Updike with Premier Doer, where Doer avoided every question about what the government knew in 2002 and 2000, claiming it was all covered by the Singleton audit. This was far from true as Singleton only reviewed material from 2002 onward.

Tom also disputed the Tories procliaming John Loewen was a champion of the Crocus shareholders, telling the story of how Loewen clammed up and didn't provide the media with a single angle or lead to pursue after he suddenly cancelled his Feb. 2002 press conference when threatened with lawsuits by Crocus heavyweights.

In sports we debuted the special Fan Commentary segment and the voice of the controversial Brother Midnite was heard loud and clear. Somehow the enigmatic former cable TV personality connected the laws of the jungle- literally talking about the temperment of walruses - "or is it walrii?" with the spate of violent on-ice incidents in the NHL. You had to hear it to believe it.

Finally Red River College filmmaker Sean Best debuted his short about backyard wrestling called "The Main Event" at the Garrick this morning, starring a bunch of untrained pretend wrestlers from Winnipeg and Winnipegosis bashing each other with light tubes and other plunder, and the efforts of a certain talk show host to make sure parents and kids knew it was an uncool practice with his annual Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) educational campaign. Kids, get proper wrestling training and don't imitate what you see on TV.

Friday: The new car theft stats were subject to another Brodbeckian going-over in the Sun and his column explained that even with the cold snap, we are headed for a record year in thefts and attempted thefts, on pace for over 14,000. We also did our best to wrap up our week and review all the interviews on the Crocus file.

The Winnipeg Sun was looking to buy-out 6 editorial stafferers in light of centralization by Quebecor, while the Free Press continued to ignore the Spirited Energy audit, pretended the latest leaks about Crocus didn't exist, and printed outtakes of an interview transcript with NDP MP Pat Martin who backtracked on his theory the NDP may have to look at merging with the Liberals federally and claimed to have been misquoted by reporter Joe Paraskevas.

The death of former Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn was the focus of sports. Kuhn presided over a period of enormous change in MLB including suspending 30 game winner Dennis McClain for gambling, instituting league playoffs and night World Series games, bringing in the designated hitter in the American League, standing up to firesales of star players by Oakland A's owner Charlie O. Finley, suspending powerful owners George Steinbrenner and Ted Turner, and the strike of 1981 which was the end of Kuhn's reign.

Our first Cody report hit the airwaves with a preview of weekend fun Peggers could get into.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Crocus Cabinet Cover-Up series: March 5th- 9th

When Premier Gary Doer returned from Washington DC last Thursday he had to immediately try to do damage control duties over a Cabinet briefing note from November 2000, which was leaked to the Liberal caucus.

Doer tried to convince the media that the Cabinet memo which hit the press while he was away, had nothing new and it was already covered by the Singleton audit, and claimed it didn't in any way show his government had acted specifically to cover up for the Fund operating in contravantion to the perspectus. Problem was, even if some in MSM took the bait, a lot of things were being looked at by the public in a new light -- and found wanting.

That didn't matter to the Free Press, who devoted an entire front page of the Saturday paper to pointing readers to an "analysis" provided by "an unnamed Grit source" that tried to downplay the collapse and losses of 34,000 shareholders.

The Great Canadian Talk Show dedicated a special week to getting into the contents of the briefing memo and what it really meant, and to hear from some of the players in the unfolding political and legal mess.

Each day we conducted an in-depth interview about Crocus, along with our usual features and notes.

In order, we spoke with Bernie Bellan, secretary of the Crocus Shareholders group; Paul Sveinson, the data analyst who is crunching the figures and helped unravel the connections between the Fund and who got money from it; Progressive Conservative leader Hugh McFadyen; on Thursday we previewed the Public Accounts Committee hearing and finally on Friday we got the report about the hearing from Liberal MLA Kevin Lameroux.

Here is a summary of what we discussed and the major issues being missed by news reporters.

Bernie Bellan explained the briefing note got him upset because he had rolled his shares over when the three year cooling-off period had been revoked. Bellan was told he was investing in Manitoba businesses, but the Cabinet memo proves that back in 2000, the government knew that new investors money like his was actually going to be used to pay out those investors who in essence, bailed.

Bellan rejected the Free Press feature as slanted by the paper's relationship with the current employer of former Crocus honcho Sherman Kreiner, University of Winnipeg president - and former Grit godfather of Manitoba - Lloyd Axworthy.

With the U of W embarking on major capital projects with Kreiner helming the campaigns, damage control came from the Kreiner defender that Sherm's plan to save Crocus was thwarted by bureaucrats in Industry and Mines who "hated Crocus" and who fought against changes to the law. Bellan pointed out the changes actually were made by the NDP, just not as fast as Kreiner wanted, changes which in then end, served to fund a Ponzi scheme while questionable investments and exhorbitant expenses were being rung up.

And then there was the illegal loan from the Solidarity Fond in Quebec, which was described as an "investment" and then used to cook the Crocus books and give it the illusion of stability and liquidity.

Bellan didn't believe that the government, whether by the reports of the Crocus board rep appointed by the govenment or by the research memos of the bureaucrats, didn't know the Fond loan was fishy. And as for the government's insistance Singleton had seen the note and included some references to it even if it wasn't in the timeline chart he prepared of the collapse -- Bellan wasn't buying it.

Paul Sveinson elaborated on problems with the way Crocus made investments that were social engineering and/or social climbing in nature, and not in the pursuit of a fair return for shareholders.

He especially focused on the sports industries, such as buying up a piece of the Manitoba Moose, putting up money for the construction of the MTS Centre, funding the ballpark and loaning money to the Winnipeg Goldeyes ball club, and the oddball decisions to pour endless sums into entertainment industry failures like Westsun ($21 million) all the way down to Blye Brothers ($1 million, zero films produced).

We had called the RCMP and asked about whether the shocking implications of the leaked Cabinet memo had been examined as part of their criminal investigation, given their access to the Singleton audit review. We reported exclusively -- No one at the RCMP could tell TGCTS they had seen a copy of the note signed by Finance Minister Greg Selinger (which was supposedly available to Singleton when he wrote his report although he said he never saw it). All they would say is "the investigation is ongoing."

Tory leader Hugh McFadyen came on the air and reviewed the reasons why this memo proved that an independent public inquiry was necessary to sort out the responsibility of the NDP for Crocus investors losing millions. He said he accepted the claim by current Provincial auditor Carol Bellringer about the briefing note having been in the audit file, but said he would stick to his guns and force another review beyond Singleton's, even if the spring budget had to be held up. He dismissed the anonymous-sourced Free Press story that had tried to spin the affair away from the need for a public inquiry - an inquiry frequently called for by the editorial department.

When challenged about how he has handled the Crocus file thus far in the Legislature, McFadyen was firm that his move to stop the bell-ringing last year was the right call because the opposition didn't have this kind of 'smoking gun' evidence about the NDP's repeated denials in Question Period of having known before 2002 of the Fund's precarious position were in fact loaded with weasel words and terminology. He said he would do it again (stop the bells) under the same circumstances.

We set out a series of questions that the Opposition could pursue before the Public Accounts Committee met on Thursday. As well, columnist Frances Russell had hopped onto the deflect the blame bandwagon the paper started on the weekend.

In a piece designed to have it both ways, "Govermnment cannot evade blame in Crocus affair", Russell used two more unnamed "sources" and Free Press favorite pundit Prof. Paul Thomas, to again twist what went wrong, now forwarding the claim Crocus may not have been violating its prospectus despite the Auditor's conclusion, and if only the NDP had allowed Crocus all the legislative changes it had asked, it would have had a fair shot against all the other labour funds. And then there was this apologia for Premier Doer:

" " ...we're using third parties outside government to deliver programs but we haven't invented sound accountability mechanisms for them " (said Thomas) ... leaving the public interest - and the taxpayers dollars - in the hands of boards of directors, frequently "enlightened amateurs" at best..."

Many of the appointees being criticized happen to have been NDP appointees for whom the government is responsible but Russell ignores that critical fact.

We also noted that the Freep had ignored the news Bellringer had decided on Tuesday, to conduct an audit into the Spirited Energy branding campaign, which meant the Free Press business relationship with the campaign was also under the microscope.

On Friday Inkster MLA Kevin Lamoreaux told our audience that he had no doubt the NDP was hiding even more information, and that Selinger had lied to the House when confronted with questions about Crocus in the past. However we pointed out that a CJOB reporter had told us that the meeting was taken up by motions and debates for an hour and 45 minutes, leaving only an hour and 15 for questions.

While admitting that perhaps the public was not happy that so much time was wasted, he explained that two of the motions were meant to get answers as sworn testimony and to limit responses to 4 minutes. Those seemed reasonable enough and he was shocked the NDP outvoted the motion for the evidence to be sworn. But then the NDP moved for the opposition leaders to apologize to the Finance Minister, a move clearly designed to waste time arguing with the opposition and stall out the time limit.

Lamoreaux said it was gratifying that the Liberals had gotten the leak last week and that he would continue to do his best to represent shareholders and taxpayers concerns in the House, as the Singleton report obviously didn't cover what the Finance Minister knew about the Fund in 2000.

In addition to our Crocus Cabinet cover-up review, we also:

Interviewed former WWE developmental talent Kenny Omega about his tag title match at the PCW event at the Lid, on a show headlined by Spike-TV star Samoa Joe. Omega had some interesting insights into the style of training for WWE and how it is not truly reflective of the styles popular around the indy circuits, and on learning the complex art of story-telling in the modern age in the ring;

Frank the Italian Barber railed about the possibility NHLPA exec Ted Saskin reading players emails, and about Ryan Smyth's agent provoking the trade from the Oilers over a difference of about $200,000 in a contract dispute;

Kelly Dehn of CTV went over the crime scene and car theft statistics, a scene which by Friday was dominated by an incident where a stolen car was used to mow down a male jogger on ritzy Wellington Crescent, an act so shocking even the remaining complacent elements within the media woke up to the danger being posed by youth criminals and gangbangers to the public;

And inaugural reports were aired from Shannah-Lee on the Human Race Machine on display at Red River College, which creates images of a face in other races; and from Cody who provided a preview of what to do around town on the weekend.