Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Black Rod

It is always fun to read the Black Rod. Where else do you get to read with such flare the amazing victories and progress about the Canadian military in Afghanistan and complain about the media not covering it? This is done while using media reports to back up your point of view, of course.

The other amusing read is the railing against inquiries into convictions. It seems in his view, the convicted remains guilty despite the police themselves identifying a more likely guilty party.

The latest laugh riot is the railing against the Taman inquiry.

I'm surprised he hasn't blamed Taman for the accident.

The East Saint Paul Police and the municipality have been struggling for years to operate professionally. On the night in question, they treated Zenk differently than another suspect. The Black Rod breezes past how Bakema told another officer that Zenk was pissed. Bakema had such faulty memory that he couldn't even remember calls he made to a auto dealership at the scene. The lack of notes sure looks bad. The rules of the East Saint Paul Police clearly state that notes are needed at any crime scene.

The Winnipeg Police Service should have been more vigilant in retrieving the bill from the restaurant. The steady stream of officers who could not remember a single drink or anyone else drinking that night defies credibility.

The Black Rod suggests that Zenk might not have been drunk at all. Nice. He breezes past the refusal on the breathalyzer with the "advice of lawyer" argument. An officer convinced of his sobriety doesn't need a reason not to take the test.

The whole scene raised questions and it wasn't just because the media was covering the story. The way Zenk was investigated by police and how he was dealt with in the court was different than other people might have been treated. At the very least, it looked like more could have been done to prosecute the case.

Even without media coverage, people would have sound reason to wonder if everything was done to seek justice for Crystal Taman.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport Part 1

Picture taken by transformerryan of Eli Bornstein's Structurist Relief in Fifteen Parts.

Whew. When you say it aloud, it's a mouthful. I suppose after a while people will just say Richardson International if they're not already.

I think what is surprising to many people is that Winnipeg's airport is Canada's first international airport. Northwest Airlines began their first international flights to Winnipeg in that same year, two years after its start-up. It will be sad to see the Northwest name vanish this year pending their merger with Delta Airlines.

The airport was founded in 1928 and was named Stevenson field. The name came from noted bush pilot Captain Fred J. Stevenson, who flew cargo to remote areas of the province. In 1958, the name was dropped at the behest of the federal government and became Winnipeg International Airport.

The building that everyone is familiar with today is the main terminal which was built in 1964. It was designed by local architects GBR in the International Style and took four years to build.

Of note in the building are two immense pieces of artwork on either end of the terminal. One of the pieces was done artist John Graham. It is an aluminum and Plexiglas mosaic that goes by the name of Northern Lights and is located on the north wall.

(picture from Winnipeg Free Press of John Graham's Northern Lights)

The second piece of art is on the south wall. It is Eli Bornstein's Structurist Relief in Fifteen Parts. It covers 60 sqaure metres and consists of 15 white panels covered in enameled metal cubes.

Neither of these pieces is small enough or for that matter wanted in the new terminal. A few previous pieces of art were moved to the Western Canadian Aviation Museum after the last major renovation of the terminal in the 1980s.

Those pieces consisted of a sculpture originally made for the airport as well as a painting The sculpture was an Anne Kahane's carved wood panel of Frederick Stevenson walking across the field to his plan. The painting was an Alfred Pellan's pieces called The Prairie.

(to be continued)
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Friday, July 25, 2008

First Taser Incident in Winnipeg

Well, it was bound to happen soon than later. Winnipeg has had its first Taser related death.

The Manitoba Metis Federation wants an inquiry. The father of the boy wants an inquiry too but he seems more apt to believe that the boy might have been threatening police.

An investigation is standard in such a case. Unfortunately, the ability of the police to investigate their own has taken a hit due to the Taman inquiry. Even if it is found that the police had no choice but to fire in self defence, the doubts might linger.

It is hard to hear cops say they can't recall if a colleague was drunk or had been drinking the night someone was killed. It is hard to hear about how no notes were taken by various police forces, how no one seemed to ask a cop if he had been drinking and the special treatment a cop received afterwards both by the police and the courts. These are the things that the Taman inquiry has shown in its many weeks of testimony.

Police should not investigate police. It hurts their credibility. And credibility is what police need to do their job.

The Taman incident has shaken faith in the police and the justice system in a big way.

In terms of Tasers, I think it is clear that Tasers can be lethal. The RCMP and manufacturer of the Taser have tried to say that the Taser doesn't kill but there seems to be a growing consensus that it can lead to heart failure in some people. A 17 year old died from a weapon that is supposed to be non-lethal. That should raise eyebrows right there.

The problem as I see it is that if police believe the weapon is non-lethal, they are more apt to use it than a gun. Tougher guidelines are needed on use.

An inquiry is needed in regards to this death. It should be open and forthcoming as it can be and make recommendations in regards to the Taser at the very least.

In terms of the police and investigating its own, I believe that for its own good, the police should advocate for an independent body.

As for the issue of race, a frank discussion needs to continue.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taman Inquiry

The entire Taman affair is a tragic one. It is all the more tragic when the East Saint Paul Police seem to have completely botched a case. Moreover, the Winnipeg Police Service officers who spent the evening with Derek Harvey-Zenk seem to have no memory of what Zenk drank, if he drank or if anyone else was drinking at the restaurant or afterwards. It defies credibility.

Some of the police have said they feel disappointed by the media in their coverage of the whole thing. I don't think they should be surprised. Their responses to inquiry questions have been evasive to say the least. Some officers are accusing others of lying or not remembering correctly. It doesn't muster a lot of faith in either the Winnipeg Police or the East Saint Paul Police.

The scary thing about this is that it could easily happen again. Zenk was treated differently than any other suspect in a driving related incident.

The Taman family is likely to be disappointed in the end result of the inquiry. It won't bring justice in their particular case.

The one hope is that inquiry makes recommendations so that this doesn't happen again.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Roblin Boulevard Part 1

Corydon Avenue becomes Roblin Boulevard as it passes the Assinibone Park entrance at Shaftesbury Boulevard.

Charleswood begins immediately west of Assiniboine Park which includes the Winnipeg Park Zoo, the Assiniboine Forest and the Tuxedo Golf Course.

A sign marks the entrance to Charleswood.

The first street that westbound travellers cross as they head into Charleswood is Chalfont. Anyone interested in seeing deer should turn south at this point. Early evening is the best time to see deer come out of the forest. The houses on the west side of Chalfont often put up mesh over their flowerbeds to keep hungry deer from eating everything.

On the north side of Roblin is a home that borders Assiniboine Park. It is the residence of Bill Taylor who is famous for the Assiniboine Park Railway, a miniature rail line that runs over his property and that offers rides on days when the sign is out on the street. During the Christmas season, the Taylor's have lights lining the long path to their home and the rail. It has become a tradition in December for many to walk down that path and ride the train while looking at the lights.

On the north side of Roblin, the commercial buildings begin between Wexford and Cathcart. For many years, the Robin's Doughnuts, Subway Restaurants and KFC occupied a strip mall there.

The Robin's shutdown in 2005. There was no drivethru and with Tim Horton's in the Charleswood Mall along Grant, it probably was losing commuters progressively over the years.

In 2007/2008, the owners of the strip mall did a makeover of the building. The telltale signature brick of the Robin's was covered up in favour of the same bland design found on most strip malls in the city. KFC/Pizza Hut Express closed during this process. Like Robin's, it had no drivethru.

A number of the KFCs have closed in Winnipeg recently. The common denominator seems to be the lack of a drivethru. For Charleswood residents, it means the closest KFC is now at the former Unicity Mall location.

The only restaurant to remain following the reconstruction has been Subway. In the old Robin's location, a Starbucks Coffee has opened. At one time Starbucks had sniffed at opening in cities like Winnipeg. Now they are everywhere.

In the old KFC location, there is paper over the windows. The sign says Asahi restaurant coming soon. It would appear to be an offshoot of the Asahi on Broadway.

I indicated a short time ago what a welcome addition Sushi Park has been to the Charleswood area in their Charleswood mall location. This makes things doubly good.

There is some indication that the Starbucks has been a hit. With a little sidewalk face section, the parking lot seems to be filled far more often than in the Robin's days.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

The New Stadium Part 1

I have been pondering the question about the new stadium plans for Winnipeg. The latest twist in all this is David Asper's plan.

I think the first thing is for there to be honesty in the debate about a stadium. In the past, we have seen a lot of dishonesty in regards to sports and entertainment facilities. The MTS battle comes to mind. I changed my vote with Glen Murray based on what I thought was dishonesty regarding funding for the new arena.

I supported a downtown arena as a worthwhile replacement for the Eaton's building. Unlike some of the dreamers out there, I saw no viable private tenant who would take it over. I also didn't think much of the condo and commercial plans that some people proposed that would have gutted the building and required even more tri-government support than an arena required.

Picture of the old Eaton's building. Picture taken by skinlovr

It seems that when it comes to public facilities, the first casualty is complete openness in the process.

David Asper is a rich man who has had a passion for Blue Bombers for many years. He has wanted to buy the community owned team for some time and has indicated he is willing to pay a lot of money to do it as well as build a stadium. Leo Ledohowski is also a rich man who wants to build a stadium. Both men want a lot of government money to achieve their stadium dreams.

Apparently, the Blue Bombers wished to stay in their present Polo Park location. However, if they want a new facility, they are at the mercy of politicians and business people who have their own agendas.

The stadium site at Polo Park has become a valuable piece of land in the ever expanding retail sector. In some ways, the stadium has become more of an inconvenience than a draw in terms of retail.

Vic Toews, the Harper minister in charge of Manitoba affairs indicated early on that he was not going to be able to sell a deal to help build a new stadium at the present location to the cabinet.

For political reasons, eyes started to cast about towards the downtown.

Almost as an afterthought, Asper's Creswin real estate company added a stadium to a waterpark proposal that it was thinking about selling the city on. Once that stadium was tossed into the mix, excitement at various levels of government jumped immediately.

One problem: No one had asked Point Douglas residents what they thought...

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