In his column in the National Post one week before the election Conrad Black told us Doug Ford had to be the next Premier. There is only one choice.  

The NDP are just as bad as the Liberals. 

He mocks Andrea Horwath whose

latest brainwave is the unutterable fatuity of proclaiming Ontario to be a “sanctuary province”

He ridicules the idea that foreigners should be allowed into Ontario and given the vote. 

This is an imitation of the pathetic detritus of the Trump Resistance: let everyone in, let them vote whether they are citizens or not, and don’t let the census-takers even put the question of citizenship.

Did Conrad Black vote for Ford?

This gets me wondering: Is Conrad Black a Canadian citizen? Did he vote in the election on 7 June 2018?

In 2001 he famously traded his Canadian citizenship for a seat in the House of Lords, sitting as Lord Black of Crossharbour (a transit station stop near Canary Wharf). According to official records from the House of Lords Black took leave of absence from the Lords on 5 September 2017. He had the option to resign but chose not to. He is nursing his seat, keeping it warm.

I am told he acquired British citizenship in 1999.

Black was convicted in the United States of fraud and obstruction of justice and was released from prison in Florida in May 2012. He was given a one-year temporary residence permit by the then Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Jason Kenney, to live in Canada.

In the Commons on 12 June 2014 the NDP MP Marc-André Morin asked Kenney:

“I have been wondering for some time about the case of a Canadian citizen who committed fraud, was sentenced and spent years in a US prison. He gave up his citizenship to get a British title. My question is very short: what is happening with Conrad Black?”

Jason Kenney replied:

“Mr Speaker, clearly, under the Privacy Act, the Minister cannot comment on a particular case. That being said, a foreign national who applies for permanent residence is ineligible if he has committed a serious crime. However, there is a review process. The process is called restoration. This means that a foreign national who was sentenced for a serious crime cannot acquire Canadian citizenship, but the legal procedures for reviewing that sort of decision still apply.”

Fancy dancing

That sounds like a lot a legal mumbo jumbo and fancy dancing.

I wrote to my own MP Kyle Peterson in May 2016 to ask if he could ascertain Black’s immigration status since he was clearly still living in Canada. Peterson was, unfortunately, as useful as a wet paper bag. As an MP he is uniquely well placed to probe for answers or, indeed, to seek to change the law. But he cited privacy considerations.

It seems to me that Black probably managed to extend his one-year temporary residence permit and then get permanent residence – although how he managed that beats me. A conviction for obstruction of justice is really serious. When I immigrated into Canada I had to get a certificate from the police in the UK that I had never, ever been on their radar. I was asked if I had ever been convicted of any offence. (The answer is no.)

So how did Conrad Black manage it? 

As recently as February 2015, the Ontario Securities Commission found it was in the public interest to prohibit Black from “acting as a director or officer of any issuer, registrant or investment fund manager” and to resign all these positions.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

The Commission commented on Black’s lack of remorse:

“Although we do not consider remorse necessary nor the absence of contrition as an aggravating factor in determining sanctions in proceedings before the Commission in which respondents contest in good faith the allegations made against them, the failure of the Respondents (ie Black and others) to acknowledge in any way the legitimacy of the detailed findings of fraud against them in the US Legal Proceedings (and, in Black’s case, the finding that he obstructed justice) raises serious concerns in our minds as to the reliability of their assurances that they pose no threat to Ontario’s capital markets in the future.”

Of course, for years Conrad Black has been huffing and hawing and blustering about his innocence.

Here is a must-see clip from the BBC’s “Have I Got News for You” filmed just after Black was released from prison. And here is another one where an enraged Black threatens to punch BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman in the face.

Which brings me back to where I started.

Why is Conrad Black still here?

Seeking sanctuary?

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