Conrad Black: Trudeau may 'ultimately be a threat' to the Conservative government
Published Tuesday, September 3, 2013 7:00AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 3, 2013 6:01PM EDT
Count former media baron Conrad Black among those who think Justin Trudeau could lead the federal Liberal Party out of the political wilderness and back to, at least, Official Opposition status.
Black made the comments in an interview with CTV’s Power Play to be broadcast Tuesday in which he discussed his new book, “Flight of the Eagle,” a 700-page look at the strategic history of the United States.
When asked about Canada’s current political climate, Black said the Stephen Harper government “has done a good job.”
He said, however, that the Conservatives are, “starting to look like people who are there to hold the place because they’re doing a perfectly competent day to day month to month job of governing.”
And he said while “we’ll have to see” what Trudeau can indeed accomplish as leader of the third-place party, he could pose a significant threat to the Conservatives.
“If he is an intelligent, capable man as well as an attractive man, then he would certainly ultimately be a threat and very much, I would say, likely to regain the Opposition status for the Liberal Party,” Black said. “It’s abhorrent for that party not to be either the governing party or the Opposition party.”
Black also weighed in on the Harper government’s tough-on-crime agenda, what he called “this drive of theirs to build more prisons and put more people into prisons.
“You don’t need prisons for non-violent people, they just make things worse and as you pointed out I know something about that,” he said. “It’s a very complicated problem, but that’s not the way to treat it, it’s the way to make it worse.”
In 2007, Black was convicted of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice in the United States relating to his time at Hollinger Inc. Two of the fraud convictions were eventually overturned, and Black served 37 months of a 42-month sentence at a Florida prison.
Black called the proceedings against him “a monstrous persecution,” and criticized the U.S. prison system as “a corrupt, bloated industry that, like other industries, just wants to be bigger. The commodity is prisoners and they want more prisoners.”
Black recently reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed against him by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that prohibits him from ever serving as the director of a public company south of the border. He also agreed to pay $4.1 million in restitution.
The Ontario Securities Commission is now going ahead with proceedings to determine whether Black and two former colleagues should be banned from becoming directors of a public company in the province.
Black said his bout with the U.S. legal system has not sullied his opinion of it as “a great country.”
Black has written extensively about U.S. political history, including a biography of former president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
He said the United States remains a “fundamentally strong country.” However, some of its ongoing problems are “making Canada look better. I think it’s making Canada more self-confident.”
“American exceptionalism is today exclusively a matter of scale. Canada therefore did very well but it didn’t appear to be doing especially well opposite the United States. That has changed because the United States has clearly gotten into a very sluggish phase where nothing is working very well.”
Black said the United States has been a recent victim of “poor leadership.”