Conrad Black, mugged

Amid all the courtroom histrionics yesterday when Chicago Judge Amy St. Eve sent the aggressively unrepentant Conrad Black back to jail, most of the media covering the proceedings declined to write what journos toiling under the former plain old Mr. Black, sometime press baron, used to call the second-day lead.

The second-day lead, of course, is the one you put in the paper in the morning after all the broadcasters and websites have already told everyone the news — which in this case can be basically summed up as “go directly back to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.” Well, not directly exactly, as Her Honor gave Lord Black two months to get his affairs in order before he returns to custody. And $200 ain’t worth what it used to be.

In this case, the second-day lead would go something like this: “The instant he steps out of his U.S. jail cell, probably in about nine months’ time, Baron Black of Crossharbour will attempt to rush back to Canada. Indeed, he is applying for a Canadian passport even as your humble and underpaid scribe scratches out this report!”

As the Toronto Star reported, albeit deep in the story, “Black’s lawyers also got permission to begin the process of applying for a (Canadian) passport, so that he doesn’t have to be locked up in an immigration facility after his release while he waits for the paperwork to be sorted out.”

Unfortunately, notwithstanding his felonious history and lack of citizenship, getting back into Canada will probably a swift and effortless process for Lord Black — what with his memberships in the Order of Canada and the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada still intact and his many friends in the Harperite councils of our neo-con government, whose slick entries to power were eased by his Lordship’s many efforts in journalism over the years.

Under such circumstances, Jason Kenney, the barking Cerberus determined to keep refugees from dreadful foreign conflicts from Canada’s gates, can be expected to fold like a cheap tent when presented with Lord Black’s residency application.

Remember, Lord Black is technically inadmissible to Canada without Kenney’s assistance, and since large numbers of Canadians view his Lordship as a divisive figure whose attitudes border on unpatriotic, that should give the immigration minister momentary pause. But then, what’s a little embarrassment when you’ve just been so massively re-elected?

Never let it be said, once Lord Black has returned to this country and is again making a nuisance of himself by advocating anti-social behaviour among the moneyed classes, that foreign felons are not welcome on our shores, as long as they come with the right credentials and a long list of influential Canadian friends.

However, what with Lady Black’s fainting spells, Lord Black’s impenitent poetry-quoting and bluster, and the whinging from the defence benches about the fragile state of his health, one can forgive the journos in attendance for concentrating on the hard-news angle yesterday. Perhaps the National Post can devote some column inches on the morrow to an exploration of the lamentable quality of medical care in the U.S. prison system so beloved of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, arguably an ironic creation of Lord Black’s journalistic efforts.

Amid all this clangorous tambourine-rattling, as it were, about Lord Black’s good works in prison, let us never forget that this is the man who noisily renounced his Canadian citizenship, denounced his former compatriots as cowards and philistines, and dismissed his former country as “a Third World dump run by raving socialists.” He is a person who was, moreover, convicted of a criminal offence in a neighbouring democracy with a fully functional judicial system — as yesterday’s events amply demonstrated.

This was a business owner who, right here in Alberta, publicly declared his intention to ignore the laws of the province and sever his striking employees from their jobs like “gangrenous limbs.”

As such, he has no business carrying a Canadian passport in his pocket, now or in nine months!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary.

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe...