Conrad Black meant to renounce Canadian citizenship 'temporarily'
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, November 10, 2014 9:40AM EST
Former media baron Conrad Black says that when he renounced his Canadian citizenship to sit in the British House of Lords he was only doing so “temporarily,” and meant to re-apply until he was sidetracked by his legal troubles south of the border.
Black said Monday he was not turning his back on Canada itself when he gave up his citizenship in 2001 to become Lord Black of Crossharbour. Then-prime minister Jean Chretien had enforced an old law that said a Canadian citizen cannot become a British lord while retaining Canadian citizenship.
“I made it clear when I renounced it I was only doing it temporarily,” Black told CTV’s Canada AM while promoting his new book, “Rise to Greatness: The History of Canada from the Vikings to the Present.”
Black accused Chretien of “intervening in the affairs of another country to create a class of one person, a citizen of that country, namely myself, even though there are all sorts of dual citizens in Britain who have sat in the House of Lords and have other British honours.”
So Black did “what Roy Thomson did,” and gave up his citizenship with the intention of reapplying.
“I was interrupted because of this persecution I endured in the United States,” he said of his fraud convictions and subsequent time in a Florida prison. Black was convicted in 2007 of obstruction of justice and three counts of fraud, but two fraud convictions were thrown out on appeal. He ultimately served 37 months of a 42-month sentence.
“But I’ll get back to it. But I never said, ‘Canada be damned, I’m not interested in it,’ which is what some people thought. But that was never what I said.”
Of his book, Black said he decided to tackle Canadian history because, “Canadians slightly underestimate how interesting their history is.”
He chronicles “the determination” of Canadian statesmen from Samuel de Champlain to the present, and presents Canada’s story as a series of connected events rather than isolated incidents.
Black writes extensively about both World Wars, particularly the First World War, prior to which Canada had “been looked upon by the world in an ambiguous way.”
Canada was not under direct threat and yet it sent an army of volunteers to fight in Europe.
“That gave us huge moral credibility in the world,” Black said.
An Ontario Securities Commission panel is currently weighing whether Black can once again be allowed to take a position as officer or director of a public company.