I was one of many who sighed with relief when Conrad Black was convicted in U.S. District Court July 13. He is exceedingly litigious, and word had gone out that anyone who had suggested anything untoward in Black’s management of his newspaper empire could expect writs should the great man be found not guilty.
But he wasn’t, and I can now state categorically what I had only hinted at in these pages three years ago: Conrad Black is a crook. Specifically, Black was found guilty of fraud for paying himself non-compete payments for newspapers he had sold to himself and of obstruction of justice for removing boxes of evidence from his office while under investigation by the SEC.
He remains free on bail while awaiting sentencing on November 30. As the prosecution is recommending a 24- to 30-year term, the 62-year-old Black will likely spend the rest of his life in a U.S. federal prison.
Unless, that is, he manages to regain the Canadian citizenship he abjured with contumely six years ago. The newly ennobled Baron Black of Crossharbour declared in 2001, “Renouncing my citizenship was much more than a ticket to the House of Lords; it was the last and most consistent act of dissent I could pose against a public policy which I believe is depriving Canada of its right and duty to be one of the world’s great countries.” In other words, You are not worthy! Of me!
Should we see the error of our ways, however, Black was prepared to reconsider: “If my views are taken up and implemented, I will be happy to resume my citizenship.” Can’t say fairer than that, can you? In 2006, Black announced that we were once again worthy of his lordship. He was now a “demonstrative Canadian flag waver,” and could he have his citizenship back, please?
In his Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, the Catholic thinker and martyr Sir Thomas More wrote, “A man that [is] in peril of drowning catcheth whatsoever cometh to hand, be it never so simple a stick.” And the conversion experience of the Catholic thinker and would-be martyr Lord Conrad Black occasioned much cynicism, not to say hilarity, in his native land. It’s not as if he wasn’t already drowning in a sea of tribulation. Patrick Fitzgerald, scourge of Scooter Libby, had announced his intention to put Black behind bars for decades, but, if Black could regain his citizenship, he would be eligible for the Canada-U.S. prisoner exchange. This would guarantee him the comfort of a short sentence in one of Canada’s “country club” jails, where “offenders reside in residential-style housing units” and “are responsible for their own meal preparation.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he won’t get involved, and Black is now a convicted felon, which should disqualify him. But Canada routinely grants citizenship to foreigners whose crimes are much blacker than Black’s, so who knows?
If the self-hating Canadians who dominate “conservative” opinion in this country had their way, Black would not only be repatriated and freed, he would become governor general, allowing him to embrace his destiny as the General Pétain of Vichy Canada.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Black’s immolation. Our neocon fifth columnists had no problem with Conrad Black instructing us that there was no problem with Canada that shouldn’t be solved by making her exactly like America. This was only the truth. And they cared not when Black’s crimes came to light. After all, $3.5 million is “nothing,” and, anyway, theft isn’t theft when big businessmen do it. Instead, the already indicted Black was rewarded with a column in the National Post, and his noxious wife, the as-yet-unindicted Barbara Amiel, with one in Maclean’s. Ken Whyte, editor-publisher of Maclean’s, testified for Black at trial, which is surely unconnected with the $100,000 “performance bonus” he accepted from Black in 2003, two years after Whyte stopped working for him.
Even as Conrad damned his Jewish prosecutors as “those Nazis” and Barbara damned the reporters covering his trial as “vermin,” Black’s claque smothered them with true unpatriot love. Black’s ordeal was a latter-day Dreyfus case. Maybe worse. Or so said Mark Steyn, David Frum, George Jonas, Peter Worthington, David Warren, Adam Daifallah, Christie Blatchford, and Ezra Levant.
And yet, when it became clear that Black’s number was up, the Vichy Canadians began denouncing the U.S. government with all the fervor of a Paul Craig Roberts. Our fifth columnists became as anti-American as all get out. Truly, God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.