Everyone in the media was watching for Senators Mike Duffy or Patrick Brazeau or Pamela Wallin at Wednesday’s Throne Speech: but I was thinking of Conrad Black.
He of course was never a mere Canadian Senator, but an elevated member … ermine robes and all … of the British House of Lords. And he not only fell from grace, but ended up in prison…. now a convicted felon.
And as I watched all the pomp and ceremony surrounding the arrival on Parliament Hill of Governor General David Johnston … the review of the Guard of Honour, the military review, the Royal salute and inside, the Black Rod summoning MPs, the Sergeant at Arms leading them to the Red Chamber, with all the VIPs, I realized THIS is pretty important stuff …. or at least it’s supposed to be.
After all, here it was … televised live across the country … beginning with a tribute to Canada’s history of comparatively civilized evolution, a work in progress aimed at building a nation of mature stature, stability and ethical propriety.
But what about Conrad Black?
You see, the Governor General … His Excellency … is the man in charge of the Order of Canada … Canada’s highest civilian society of honour, recognition for achievement and contributions and setting the example for the rest of us mere worker-bees to follow, acknowledge and celebrate.
Even if they are convicted criminals? Even if they throw their Canadian citizenship back in our faces?
Conrad Black did all of that: renouncing his Canadian citizenship in 2001 so he could elevate his arrogance and ego to the highest level in his adopted home of the United Kingdom and became Lord Black of Crossharbour; that glorious self-indulgent existence came to a crashing fall in 2007, when Black was convicted in the US of fraud AND obstruction of justice and sentenced to prison for 42 months.
It appalled but, frankly, didn’t surprise me when he was released from prison after serving 37 months, and this convicted criminal …. now officially a foreigner … was allowed by the Tory government to come into Canada to live.
And now, two years later, Black still holds his Order of Canada !
True, it is under review … but for how long? Until the Tory government and the Governor General think enough time has passed that Canadians will forget his ultimate insult to our nation and that we won’t mind Black keeping his “honour”? So they can expedite his rehabilitation and ascendency back into the elite echelons of Canadian society.
As far as I’m concerned the Order of Canada committee should have begun proceedings to pull Black’s membership as soon as he renounced his citizenship. 12 years ago. And certainly when he went to jail after his conviction in 2007!
The nerve of the Governor General to say and do nothing in those circumstances: makes all the pomp and propriety surrounding his visit to Parliament Hill and his role in governing Canada all the more shallow and even hypocritical.
And talk about nerve! Black, who publicly renounced his Canadian citizenship has been fighting very hard … including efforts in Federal Court demanding he be allowed a special privilege to appear before the Order’s review committee in person … unlike the others who faced membership reviews after convictions etc. who were allowed a mere written submission: not enough for the convict from Crossharbour.
When the Court rejected his application … Black suggested he might even just give the award back: but of course, did not … he is now appealing the Federal Court’s decision. (No cost must be spared to retain his position of pomposity!)
I can only imagine the pressure committee members care under, including behind the scenes, to give Black a break.
Enough is enough.
Governor General David Johnston should move to protect the integrity of Canada’s highest award: STRIP Black of his Order of Canada membership NOW!
I believe it will do irreparable damage to the award if a convicted criminal WHO RENOUNCED HIS CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP ( and showed no sign of ever reclaiming it …until he was disgraced in the courts and was sent to prison) was welcomed to keep it!
Let’s be compassionate: let him stay in Canada, maybe even allow restoration of his citizenship after five years.
But keep his Order of Canada?
Not if all the pomp and ceremony we surround the Governor General and our institutions with is to have any real meaning at all.