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Conrad Black deserves trumpetsConrad Black deserves trumpets

Conrad Black deserves trumpets

It's a pity. He deserves them. And more. Much, much more. Yes, Conrad Black was forced by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien's virulent act of vindictiveness to relinquish his Canadian citizenship more than a decade ago. Yes, he was obliged to become a British citizen in order to accept the honour of being named to the House of Lords.

Peter Stockland
2 minute read

Doubtless Conrad Black would prefer to forego the brass band and welcoming speeches on the tarmac when he comes back to Canada, a free man, in a few days.

It's a pity. He deserves them. And more. Much, much more.

What he does not deserve is niggardly nagging from the NDP about his return being an example of the Harper government giving special treatment for a friend. Indeed, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's denunciation of Black as a "British criminal" was a perfect example of the mean-mouthed spitefulness that opponents in the party's recent leadership race warned is too deeply embedded in his character.

Yes, Conrad Black was forced by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien's virulent act of vindictiveness to relinquish his Canadian citizenship more than a decade ago. Yes, he was obliged to become a British citizen in order to accept the honour of being named to the House of Lords. But he is a born and bred Canadian and has done more to improve this country in his business dealings than Mr. Mulcair ever will in a lifetime of sophomoric class warfare sound bytes.

It is a churlish, and apparently hard-wired, reflex of the left to denounce as unjust the justifiable treatment of its opponents simply because they are opponents. The tactic invariably involves digging up a claimed injustice visited upon someone among the left's putative friends in order to create the effect of a double injustice.

In this case, Mr. Mulcair caught breath from slagging Conrad Black long enough to point to the case of a convinced criminal named Gary Freeman who has been denied re-entry to Canada despite having a wife and four children here.

Mr. Freeman, according to published reports, is an American by birth who also had links to the Black Panthers. He entered Canada on the lam from a criminal act committed in 1969. The criminal act was shooting a policeman. He lived illegally in this country until 2008, when he was extradited and served 30 days for his 39-year-old crime.

Yet the point should not be to compare the severity of his act, or the paucity of his imprisonment with the obliteration of Mr. Black's business empire, personal life, and freedom essentially for the convicted offense of removing some cardboard boxes from his Toronto office while under investigation by American authorities.

It is true that Mr. Freeman, through his guile, remained a free man for almost his entire adult life despite having committed a very serious crime.

But if it is unjust to bar him from rejoining his family after he has paid his State-imposed debt, then it is unjust on its own ground. It certainly seems almost self-evident to me that even a man who committed a senseless violent act at the age of 20, who has owned up and taken his (albeit much-reduced) lumps, should not be prevented from reuniting with his family at age 63.

Let that be settled as it should, not by dragging Conrad Black unwittingly into the fray.

Mr. Black spent four years in the snares of the U.S. prison system. He has been subjected to almost an entire decade of torment by the American legal system. He came through his trials, I will argue until my dying breath, as a man of extraordinary character and courage. He did not shirk the fight for his innocence nor evade the punishment when the leviathan State grotesquely and abominably overwhelmed his capacity to fend off its wrongs.

Now he has endured. Now he is coming home. Justice and charity demand he be given a warm welcome by Canada as his feet return to Canadian soil.

If I could play the trumpet, I would be outside the airport sounding it the moment he arrives.

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