Lord Black

Peter C. Newman, the well-known author of tedious doorstoppers exalting the supposed virtues of the Canadian business class, says he believes Conrad Black will leave his American jail cell “as a better man, with a higher appreciation for Canada.”

A better man? I suppose we shall see about that. But he would have a heightened appreciation for his native land, wouldn’t he? After all, his Lordship never would have been prosecuted for anything in this county, let alone found guilty, however temporarily. Unlike the United States, the law doesn’t really apply to our business people at all.

Hard as it would be to have missed this, so great is the glee of Canada’s mainstream media at the former newspaper magnate’s unexpected release from American incarceration, the facts for those of you have just returned from Jupiter are as follows: His Lordship, justly famous for renouncing his Canadian citizenship in order to be declared a British peer, has been granted bail as his fight to overturn his convictions for fraud and obstruction continues south of the Medicine Line.

Indeed, the chances are good that Lord Black will not have to return to jail when he is released within the next few days. Even if he is unable to get his obstruction of justice conviction overturned, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent redefinition of a legal theory used to convict him two and a half years ago will likely mean he will be deemed to have served sufficient time. So for Lord Black — or Lord Tubby, as he was fondly known by his former employees in the Canadian newspaper business — it will bid adieu to the federal correctional institution in Coleman, Fla.

Well, so be it. Regardless, however, despite his Lordship’s supposedly elevated appreciation for his native land, he should not be welcomed back to our country. This is so whether or not he owns property in Toronto. And it is so whether or not he still is a member of the Order of Canada, which continues on its Website to windily honour him as “a distinguished Toronto entrepreneur and publisher … a man of diverse achievements within the realms of Canadian commerce, education, literature and the arts.”

Please! This Lord is, after all, out on bail. That is to say, the United States government still views him as a convicted felon — albeit one with a chance of slipping off the hook — and like any other real or potential criminal he should not be permitted to cross the border for the security of the realm.

Our current Governor General would never say why Black was allowed to hang on to his Order of Canada lapel pin when he had been convicted of a felony in a sister democracy with an adequately functioning justice system. Presumably it was because of the very thing that has come to pass — to wit, that he might be able to succeed at having at least some of his convictions overturned.

Well, in the proper pursuit of peace, order and good government, the Dominion should now take the same approach to Lord Black’s readmission to the land of his birth — that is, he should be turned away in the reasonable supposition that the American courts may yet uphold his conviction.

At the very least, being released for time served without all his convictions being dismissed should not be sufficient to allow his Lordship to jump the queue and gain admission when so many fine, blameless and better qualified people are waiting to become Canadians.

But for the moment at least, Lord Black remains a convicted criminal. And as our Conservative government is so apt to remind us, criminals should not be welcome in our country, leastways those who are citizens of other lands.

Moreover, lest we forget, Lord Black his no longer a Canadian. He renounced us. He dismissed us. He kissed us off. He had no use for us at all, we Canadians who saw “cowardice as wisdom, philistinism as Olympian serenity and the spitefulness of the weak as moral indignation.”

Indeed! So, even if all of his convictions are eventually overturned, let’s show a little spine for once in dealing with this undesirable former Canadian. He is a citizen of the United Kingdom. He is a resident of the United States. Let him live in one of those places!

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

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...