Now that Conrad Black has been granted a one-year temporary residence permit and is back home in Toronto, he’s followed through on one of the items on his post-incarceration itinerary: a proper sit-down with CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge. Baron Black of Crossharbour’s appearance on The National last night was chock full of statements that could only come from the former media mogul: he was arch, unrepentant and even a little funny. Too bad it’s the only proper interview Black’s promised to the Canadian press.
A roundup of the Black’s best lines:
• Now that he’s served time, Black would like to get past his prison conviction. But there’s a “constant sadistic reference to my alleged status” that’s downright “un-Canadian.” He compared his situation to being “stigmatized for life … like a medieval leper, with bells on my head to warn the unsuspecting of the approach of moral taint and turpitude.”
• While Black served a 42-month sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice in a Florida prison, he maintains it was a wrongful conviction. He lost his trademark verbosity when he told Mansbridge plainly: “I was shafted.”
• Chuckling, Black also described how he escaped the media glare after his discharge: “this tremendous motorcade, as if they were escorting the president or something, took off with multi-coloured lights and outriders and sirens and everything in that grandiose way.” The press followed the police cars, allowing Black to get away unnoticed in an unassuming white Chevrolet. “I can’t say I disapproved of it,“ he told Mansbridge.
• Black may apply reapply for Canadian citzenship, provided there’s no big outcry: “I [have] reached the age where I’m tired of being oppressed and I’m tired of being defamed and I am not going to do anything that is going to lead to gratuitously antagonistic people making apparently plausible claims that I am morally unsuited to be a citizen of this country.”
• Black, who knows his way around a lawsuit, had an unsurprising response to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s calling him a “British criminal”: “If he wants to divest himself of his parliamentary immunity, it would certainly be my pleasure to sue him for defamation.” He called the comment a “cheap shot” that previous NDP Leaders like Tommy Douglas would never make.
• The memoirist and former newspaper magnate intends to keep up on his writing, but won’t be adopting any new platforms soon, saying “the idea of Twittering is bothersome to me.” We doubt the 140-characters could contain an average Black statement anyway.