Someone should write a letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail praising columnist Lawrence Martin for his piece this morning on Conrad Black.
Martin, no friend to small-c conservative causes or ideas, eloquently makes the honest journalist's point that Black deserves to have his Canadian citizenship restored.
The reason, Martin writes, is the debt Black is owed by all Conservatives and conservatives in Canada.
"When the story of the rise of the right is written, Stephen Harper and Preston Manning will occupy prime place. But there were other architects (Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley to name a few) and Conrad Black ranks among them. It's something conservatives should remember when he seeks to regain his standing in this country," Martin says.
He offers a second powerful reminder: that Black's renouncing of his Canadian citizenship to accept a British peerage was forced upon him by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien as a sheer act of vengeance.
Martin doesn't say—but I will—that Chrétien's vindictiveness was a disgusting, shameful, and cowardly abuse of power even for a man whose leadership failings almost broke up the country in 1995 and whose character weaknesses once caused him to literally grab a protestor by the throat and squeeze while he himself was surrounded by an armed security detail.
Chrétien blocked Black's acceptance of a seat in the British House of Lords purely out of pique over what courageous journalists—including a certain Lawrence Martin—were being given the freedom to write in Hollinger newspapers across the country.
As Martin acknowledges, through the Hollinger chain, Black reinvigorated Canadian newspaper journalism by launching the National Post and by opening numerous moribund daily rags to a slew of fresh and diverse voices.
The case for the coincidental renewal of the conservative movement, and the recreation of the Conservative Party from the smithereens of the Mulroney-era Progressive Conservatives, is necessarily more correlational than causal.
You cannot say directly, for example, that because a bright-eyed lad named Peter Menzies (now a Cardus senior fellow) was made editor-in-chief, and then publisher of the Calgary Herald, the right was able to reunite.
Yet Menzies' tenure at the Herald is directly responsible for the re-emergence of that great paper as a substantive conservative voice articulating welcome ideas in the most conservative city in Canada at the time. It was Black who saw Menzies' many gifts and appointed him the Herald's editor-in-chief.
So are zeitgeists born.
Those were happier times in the newspaper business, of course, and a long way from the additional year Black must serve in a U.S. prison before he completes the stupefying sentence inflicted upon him by the revenge-mad American legal system.
Anyone who followed his recent re-sentencing in a Chicago courtroom can only cringe, and offer up prayers of mercy, over the hideous injustice of a sending a 66-year-old man back to jail as punishment for acts that properly amounted to matters for civil litigation.
The day his undeserved debt is paid, however, Black should be met at a Canadian border control point by a welcoming crowd of grateful fellow citizens. The immigration minister should be on hand with a fresh new passport to seal the deal.
Someone might think to write Lawrence Martin a note of thanks for getting the bandwagon rolling.