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Blogspot | 31Dec2011 | blackrod
History repeats itself,
Millionaire moocher Gail Asper is in a panic.
the Winnipeg Free Press rewriting it as fast as possible.
And when Gail Asper is in a panic, Winnipeg Free Press co-owner Bob
Silver is in a panic.
And when Bob Silver is in a panic, everybody at the Winnipeg Free Press
is in a panic.
No, it's not because someone has sicced the new police cadets on
Winnipeg's biggest panhandler.
As we've learned only in the past 9 days, Gail Asper's pet project, the
Canadian Museum for Human Rights, has run out of money. Really, now.
Who saw that coming?
By March 31, 2012, the fiscal year end, the unfinished museum will have
received the last government money its going to get. No more dinero
from the feds. And the coin from the province and the city was spent
long, long ago.
Gail Asper and the Friends of the CMHR will try to cash in some of the
private IOU's they're holding, but they've admitted that that won't
bring in enough money to finish construction, never mind the millions
needed for exhibits. They're $61 million in the hole, not counting the
2 percent of the project that hasn't even been tendered because there's
Their one and only hope is that some arm of government (read the
federal government) will write them a blank cheque.
That's where Bob Silver comes in. He's given his employees their
marching orders -- rewrite history!
What? You thought it was something easy?
For the last week, in a barrage of features, editorials and news
stories, the FP has been creating a new reality, absolving the Asper
family of all responsibility for the overwhelming cost overruns while
guilt-tripping Prime Minister Stephen Harper into reaching for his
It's an exercise straight out of George Orwell's classic "1984" where
the Ministry of Truth had no reluctance to turn truth into lies and
lies into truth if it was necessary for the cause. Apparently the
professional journalists at the Winnipeg Free Press with their
professional journalist ethics and their professional journalist
editors have no qualms either.
(The FP has a strange affection for Orwell's work. Last year they were
writing stories turning the pigs of Orwell's 'Animal Farm' into the
heroes of the story.)
What's particularly interesting is seeing bits and pieces of the truth
pop up in the oddest places in the pro-museum propaganda churning out
of the newspaper's Mountain Avenue headquarters, especially in the
And why not? Silver speaks directly to the oracles on the mountain
while his hirelings don't.
We were intrigued by the latest editorial on Friday wherein the FP
argued the CMHR was worth any price because its mission is so noble and
valuable to the entire world. (Gag....ed.)
",,,when the budget for the museum soared to $315 from $265 in 2008, many private donors, including
the Aspers, were prepared to withdraw their money rather than downsize and
erect a red-brick warehouse for human rights." declared the Free Press.
[W.Z. The corrected version of the above statement reads: "..., many Jewish donors, including the Aspers, were prepared to withdraw their money, if the a stand-alone Holocaust gallery was not at the front-and-centre of the CMHR."
which can be withdrawn at the whim of the donor, is not a donation. We
would have thought that withdrawing such a donation after it is made
would be illegal.]
You don't say?
Because in the real world, documented everywhere, the story is a little
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights officially became a national
museum on March 13, 2008 when amendments to the Museums Act received
It wasn't until the next year, 2009, that the trustees of the CMHR
confessed to $45 million in cost overruns (bringing the total cost to
$310 million, not $315 million). And that was only after The Black Rod
crunched the numbers and called them on it in a story we called CMHR
to Politicians: We Lied. So, Whatcha Gonna Do? (Thursday, May 21, 2009).
But if the public needs any more proof that the Canadian Museum for
Human Rights is a publicly funded private project in all but name, the
Winnipeg Free Press just supplied it.
The Aspers threatened to
withdraw their money if they didn't get their way? Did they?
By what right did Gail Asper have final say about how the federal
government would build a national museum? The Aspers gave up any right
to dictate the size, cost, design or even colour of the CMHR more than
a year earlier when the federal government formally took it over as a
The Aspers and their supporters donated to a national museum. Didn't
they? That's all we've been hearing for three years, how it's a
national treasure, that the government is fully behind it because it's
a national project, how all of Canada supports it because it's a
Only now we read information that could only have come from the horse's
mouth that the Aspers and other donors didn't give a horse's ass about
the national aspect of the museum. They
wanted it to be theirs and theirs alone, with the public paying the
cost while having no say on what it's getting in return.
But wait, there was more in Friday's editorial.
Did Editor Margo Goodhand think we would overlook this gem:
"There was no
agreement that the private fundraisers, known as the
Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, would be responsible
for cost overruns, but their only choice -- since Ottawa refused to
increase its $100-million stake, which thus discouraged the province
and city from also contributing more -- was to raise more private cash."
The Winnipeg Free Press
has refused to report on how the supporters of the CMHR reassured the
Senate --- in order to get their approval to make it a national museum
--- that the federal government would NOT be responsible for cost
Here's a segment of what was said:
Senator Cowan: This
is not one of those projects
where the federal government is left to pick up anything over and above
the $165 million that is contributed by other parties, is it?
Ms. Sherwood: The board of trustees
will be accountable for bringing this project in on budget
and making decisions with respect to the building design
and the contingency fund set aside that allow it to bring the project
in on budget.
The Winnipeg Free Press on Dec. 23, 2011 identified the Friends as "the
fundraising arm of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights," with Gail
Asper as national campaign chairwoman.
The Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Inc. is the
non-profit registered charity tasked with raising funds for the
Canadian Museum for Human Rights, states the CMHR website. If the
government isn't responsible for overruns, who do you think is?
After the first overruns were announced in 2009 the Museum issued this
Museum fundraising campaign continues
“The Board of Trustees asked the Friends to continue their efforts to
ensure that we build the iconic structure and world-class exhibits
expected from this national and international destination and centre
for learning,” said Arni Thorsteinson, Chair of the CMHR Board.
“We have full confidence that Friends will meet this
additional fundraising challenge, especially because we’re seeing the
emergence of new interest, energy and donor capacity for this national
human rights museum in provinces outside Manitoba,” said Gail Asper
O.C., O.M. LL.D (Hon.).
The Winnipeg Free Press editorial writer let another bit of info slip.
"The Friends now need $60
million, an enormous burden that could delay the museum's opening for
five or six years and thus create new budget problems,
unless the government offers a loan or new money."
It's the second
time in a week that the FP, in an editorial rather than a news story,
has raised the spectre of a five or six year delay in opening the
museum. That's got to be coming from someone high up.
Someone very, very worried high up. Someone downright panicky high up.
Six years? We're building
a white elephant that's going to sit empty for six years --- unless the
federal government writes a blank cheque?
And who will be paying to
heat, clean, patrol and polish the stonework for those years while the
trustees travel the world soaking up museum culture?
If there's ever an
argument for the federal government seizing control of the museum
immediately, that's it.
It's supposed to be an ideas museum. You don't need four football
fields of space inside a Tower of Babel to house ideas.
Reporter Dan Lett tested out the first rewrite of history a few days
ago. The private sector fundraisers were only doing Canadians a favour;
they didn't have to raise all that money for overruns; its a national
museum and as such its the federal government's responsibility to cover
the cost of overruns. It was all there.
But for the first time he took a shot at Gail Asper. A tiny shot. A
shot-let. He said she was naive for knowing the museum would cost more
than the $265 million but letting Prime Minister Stephen Harper believe
Naive? Anyone else would call it deliberately deceptive, but in the
Brave New World of the Free Press, Lett had to use a gentler spin.
He also called Harper naive for not knowing the cost would be greater
than $265 million.
Eveyone, it seems, knew
or should have known the museum was underfunded when construction
Everyone except the Free
Press which, funnily, never once mentioned it
We sure did. We screamed it out in story after story.
Here's what we wrote in May, 2009:
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
It only took five days to flush the truth out of them.
We wrote, then, how the proponents of the Canadian Museum for Human
Rights knew in 2004 they didn't have the money for the project. We told
how they were lowballing the construction costs. And how they misled
the Canadian Senate, and by extension the Canadian people, over who
would cover any cost overruns.
The MSM ignored
We predicted that once construction was started,
the museum board of directors would begin to admit the huge cost
overruns because they would believe it was too late to stop the
And in April of this year:
Monday, April 18, 2011
Your taxes go up as the mayor waives taxes for his millionaire friend,
You can't let the project fail now, when it's almost built,
It only needs a little bit more money ($10
million, $15 million, $20 million) for this magnificent building,
Surely. Surely, you won't let it fail at this the
eleventh hour, they'll plead.
And the politicians will open your wallets, again,
and throw more millions at the Aspers.
told you so.
We told you so, Dan. And no amount of rewriting history will
change the facts.
And speaking of history, how many of you remember this...
Exactly one year
ago this month we were talking about another financial disaster
involving --- guess who?
Here's a refresher:
"We were going to get a brand new football stadium built at
his own cost by a private investor who promised to cover all cost
overruns. The land where the old stadium stands would be sold to the
highest bidder and the money used to attack the city's infrastructure
deficit. And redevelopment of that land would provide Winnipeg with
annual property taxes, whereas the city collected no taxes on the old
"And after they got through with it, what have we wound up with?"
"Let's see .... a
100-percent taxpayer funded stadium at almost double the projected
cost, a giveaway deal to hand over the old stadium land to someone's
pal at a bargain price, and no taxes from the land even after its
redeveloped, at least not for a generation or two, if ever."
"The cash-strapped Winnipeg Blue Bombers football
team is saddled a debt of $85 million, which, according to the CBC,
will cost them a total of $176 million over 44 years once interest is
And let's not forget the city of Winnipeg is
committed to handing over at least $40 million to the province to cover
its end of the new stadium."
"The only win is for "entrepreneur" David Asper, who gets a cheque for
$4 million despite failing to live up to every promise he made to his
"partners" who got stuck paying for his mess."
One year later, another great big Asper family boondoggle followed by
demands for another government bailout.
"It's unacceptable to abandon the project now.", wailed Dan Lett.
Now seems the perfect time.
Labels: boondoggle, CMHR,
David Asper, Downtown Winnipeg, Free Press, Gail Asper, Margo Goodhand