Conrad Black, the Canadian-born Brit who started the National Post was given a full pardon Wednesday for fraud and obstruction of justice convictions that sent the former newspaper titan to a Florida prison for 3-1/2 years.
According to a White House statement, U.S. President Donald Trump granted “Executive Clemency” to the 74-year-old who was released in 2012, deported from the United States and has since resided in Canada.
Last night Black, a friend of Trump’s, tweeted that he received the news from POTUS personally:
In 2007, Black was found guilty of arranging payoffs to himself and two others via non-compete clauses and real estate deals as Hollinger International, the newspaper conglomerate Black started, was selling off papers.
At the time of the alleged crimes, Black contended that Hollinger was in the throes of a hostile takeover and he and co-conspirators were being pushed out the door and did nothing wrong. Black has always maintained his innocence, yet the case continued to dog him.
In 2013 the Ontario Securities Commission reopened investigations into Hollinger dealings that resulted in a permanent ban on Black holding any directorship or officer position with a publicly traded company in the province.
At Black’s apex, the stable of newspapers under Hollinger’s ownership included The Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and the UK’s Daily Telegraph. But for Canada, The National Post would be Black’s indelible stamp on the media landscape.
First published on October 27 of 1998, The Post was Black’s pre-social media foray into breaking what he believed was a too-cozy relationship between politics and the establishment press when internet news was in its embryonic phase.
In addition to precipitating a newspaper war between The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and others, the National Post also provided Black and his more-conservative editorial a platform to criticize then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and his Liberal government.
It was criticism so relentless that according to lore, Chrétien’s wife Aline banned the Post from 24 Sussex because it enraged her husband.
Black was also a member of the Conservative side in the British House of Lords after receiving a life peerage in 2001 and granted the title Baron Black of Crossharbour. Black has sat as a non-affiliated member since his conviction.
Also a prolific writer of Canadian and American history, Black has produced tomes on former presidents Nixon and FDR and more recently, wrote a book entitled Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.
WATCH: Conrad talking Trump with Steve Paikin on TVO
“Lord Black’s case has attracted broad support from many high-profile individuals who have vigorously vouched for his exceptional character,” the White House said in a statement announcing the pardon.
Shortly after Andrew Scheer’s accidental Conservative leadership victory, I was having beers with some dejected party faithful, who bemoaned the outcome and their fraught involvement with Dragon’s Den investment mogul Kevin O’Leary’s abandoned campaign.
My drinking compadres could best be described as the millennial generation of hardcore Conservative supporters. And by hardcore, I mean they volunteer for campaigns–municipal, provincial or federal, wherever a hopeful they like may be–engaging in the thankless campaign drudgery of door-knocking and pamphleting, sometimes for days on end.
The more experienced among them even contribute to strategy, and for their efforts are often rewarded with work with victorious MPs. Others in these tight-knit circles that exist among all parties, also end up in the bureaucracy or at NGOs in the Ottawa beltway’s revolving door of organized politics, PR and public service gigs.
All of us had witnessed U.S. President Donald Trump’s election victory the previous November, and argued how Mr. Wonderful’s similar bombast might have played in his favour. On that subject, we could agree that O’Leary’s no-nonsense, direct manner with the media was his strongest quality.
Take for example the answer to a question about his French speaking ability, early on in Conservative leadership campaign: “I speak the language of jobs”, was peak O’Leary and a beautiful response worth pounding away on. Jobs. Economy. Jobs. Economy.
But in the end, O’Leary loathed the grind of on-the-ground politicking and despite a decent chance of victory, he pulled the plug and threw his chips in with a loser.
Insofar as political stratagem, it’s the kind of choice that separates an O’Leary from a Trump. Trump would never leave this sort of thing to chance and plays to win, while Mr. Wonderful gambled that a third of his supporters would vault Maxime Bernier to a first-ballot victory.
But in the field of 12 remaining candidates that included now-viable successors to Scheer–Erin O’Toole and Lisa Raitt–thirteen rounds later, Scheer squeaked out the win and the rest was history.
Not withstanding searing bouts of rhetoric from stalwart front benchers like Pierre Poilievre or Michelle Rempel, federal Conservatives remained stuck behind a simpatico leadership approach that stretched through the last election.
Even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s antics, scandals and world-stage gaffes piled up, including Time Magazine revelations of avid blackface enthusiasm through our PM’s 20s–during an increasingly bitter election, no less–Scheer could never quite convert that into his advantage.
And Scheer’s leadership strategy never really diverged from this idea he could win by being a regular Joe – easy to be around and in other words not the millionaire playboy that the country’s 2015 choice for PM was turning out to be.
This failed programme was ultimately compounded by Scheer’s inability to square his personal religious views in a manner that the wider public could trust, on incredibly polarizing issues of abortion or gay, lesbian and trans rights.
By the time Scheer got around to showing any gumption on this subject–the memorable “is being gay a sin” exchange–he was scrumming with reporters after surviving a losing election post-mortem revolt at the party’s national caucus.
This time around, Conservatives need to find a winner. It seems a no-brainer, but this winner, wherever he/she/they may be, needs to be the sort who prevails in more than a leadership race or internal review.
This leader has to be the type of person where winning courses through their veins and maybe require an outsider with more zest for the glad-handing politics’ of the rubber chicken circuit than Mr. Wonderful had.
TRIGGER WARNING: During his Coach’s Corner prime, Don Cherry would have brought the perfect sort of everyman, energy required for such work –a Ralph Klein on blades – if only the leadership came å la sidekick Ron Maclean, playing Grapes’ foil of course.
Back in a post “you people” matrix, outsiders like Alberta energy tycoon Brett Wilson–another Dragon’s Den alumnus–as well as behavioural psychologist Jordan Peterson, have been bandied about social media as great replacements.
But if yardstick be real-world experience, paired with an ability to communicate effectively with a wider public, either are credible options especially given that Trudeau’s relative inexperience outside of politics was often compared to Scheer’s own career-politics trajectory, outside of briefly flogging insurance.
Back on the inside, former Conservative MPs who earned their stripes in previous Stephen Harper governments–former cabinet ministers Peter MacKay and Rona Ambrose–remain potential and formidable contenders if they choose to throw in their hats.
While MacKay has not ruled it out, Ambrose has indicated she’s not interested. Nevertheless, it’s early days with plenty of time to convince Ambrose she’s the perfect counterpoint to Trudeau.
Unlike MacKay’s Laurentien elite provenance, Ambrose’s Albertan roots would provide the West strong representation in Parliament and “because it’s 2015”, Conservatives could walk Trudeau’s often empty, gender talk.
What MacKay has going for him is a deeper cabinet resume, having served as attorney general, foreign affairs and national defence minister in former Harper cabinets. In terms of pure political calculations, the West is already solidly blue while MacKay’s corner of the country could use his ability to attract Maritimes voters back into the Conservative fold.
At the moment, all comers would be considered in the context of taking on a Trudeau-led Liberal Party in the next federal election. And if Trudeau’s insatiable appetite for attention, or another SNC-Lavalin level scandal emerges, from which there are no reasonable escapes; the caucus could oust golden boy and all bets are off.
In the meantime, former Canadian Forces navigator and minister of Veteran Affairs Erin O’Toole – another competent Harper’s crewman – is the first to jump in, having announced his leadership intentions at a Thursday night soirée.
In Britain, the people have spoken. Again. Boris Johnson and his Conservatives absolutely crushed Jeremy Corbyn’s labour party in what many see as a second referendum on Brexit.
This is for sure the “Hillary moment” for many labour voters in Britain. They are in shock, despairing, believing it a devolving of descent to the end of democracy. What it really means is that democracy is alive and well, though there may be years of Boris Derangement Syndrome to come.
Threats to democracy are coming from leftist antifa, who are protesting free and fair election results.
This is what being unhinged looks like—being so sure of your correctness that you demand affirmation. The use of violence to revolt against lawful elections is only done by people who don’t care about free and fair elections. Britain is not a rogue state where sham elections are held. It’s a cornerstone democratic nation.
In a New York Times op-ed, Michelle Goldberg explores her “democracy grief.” She cites the House vote for impeachment, which will certainly not pass the Senate, and the changing staff members at the civil service level. She has reached out to therapists, and women who maintained enough optimism in 2017 to usher democratic House reps into office.
They all give her the same message, that democracy is dying and their grief is hard to bear: “Lately, I think I’m experiencing democracy grief. For anyone who was, like me, born after the civil rights movement finally made democracy in America real, liberal democracy has always been part of the climate, as easy to take for granted as clean air or the changing of the seasons. When I contemplate the sort of illiberal oligarchy that would await my children should Donald Trump win another term, the scale of the loss feels so vast that I can barely process it,” Goldberg wailed.
The thing is, we didn’t take clean air for granted. Air quality was a disaster. Constituents and lawmakers worked hard to get the air breathable. Things are better in the U.S. now because people worked for it, and people are still working for it. There are issues, there will always be issues, but people will work to fix them, and they are doing that.
Uberfeminist Amanda Marcotte praised Goldberg’s dirge for democracy, tweeting: “The people who mock liberals for being distressed at the possible end of our democracy are the ones who should be ashamed. We should be proud of our tears. It shows we aren’t sociopathic Trump monsters.”
The trend of delirious democracy despondency always goes hand in hand with the discrediting and dehumanization of political opponents. Conservatives and Trump voters are not people. They’re monsters. It makes it easier to swallow defeat.
A similar trend is at play in England. Observe how a simple tweet by celebrity Rachel Riley in celebration of Johnson’s historic victory over the anti-Semitic Corbyn elicits the response: “i hope your baby is stillborn” by a Labour supporter who no doubt is suffering a fatal case of “democracy grief.”
Another great tactic when things don’t go the way you hoped is to blame social media. Facebook and Twitter have different ideas about how to deal with political discourse and political advertising. Much has been made about the impact of third party ads on Facebook and the initial Brexit vote. It’s easy to say that when people don’t vote they way you wanted them to, or the way you think was the right way to vote, they have been somehow coerced or manipulated, but that doesn’t make it true.
The woke left will blame social media, TERFS, disinformation, racism, Islamophobia, fascism, and Facebook for their political defeats. Never do they look inward and contemplate how their constant alarmism and dehumanization of others may actually have something to do with it. No matter how many times it’s recommended that they ought to.
In fact, gender critical feminists are happy to take some of the credit. In part, these results have nothing to do with Brexit, and everything to do with the controversial self-ID, which has been pushed through without debate. Women have been silenced, investigated, berated and beaten for staking their claim to the reality of biological sex. Like those who oppose anti-Semitism, gender-critical feminists made their voices heard: they would not accept Labour’s creeping authoritarianism.
Whenever a legitimate democratic result occurs that the elite media establishment don’t like, they claim that democracy is in peril, or it dies in darkness, or it’s already deceased. It’s getting a little tedious. And it’s just not true. Democracy and disagreement are not anathema to each other.
Goldberg’s democracy grief is nothing compared to the people’s media grief. Seriously. This nonsense has to stop. That Donald Trump won doesn’t mean democracy didn’t happen. That Boris Johnson won doesn’t mean we need to change the way democracy works. The truth is that the authoritarian hacks and pundits who whine and whimper about how democracy is broken are the very ones who are trying to break it. If democracy depended on eliciting a specific outcome to be tenable, that wouldn’t be democracy. The fact that it doesn’t turn out the way you voted doesn’t null the result.
The world is seeing populations rise up and fight for their rights to democratic leadership, for a voice in their own governance. When we disparage the freedoms we have, claiming that they are not liberties but lies, we do a disservice to our fellow citizens. Democracy works. It doesn’t always work out for the way you’d like, but that’s kind of the point.
American President Donald Trump mocked 16-year-old Greta Thunberg on Twitter Thursday after she was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
“So ridiculous,” Trump tweeted. “Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”
In response, Thunberg updated her Twitter bio, noting that she was working on her anger management problems and watching a movie with a friend.
Trump’s son also commented on the selection of Thunberg, arguing that individuals like the Hong Kong protestors deserved the honour far more.
“Time leaves out the Hong Kong Protesters fighting for their lives and freedoms to push a teen being used as a marketing gimmick,” he wrote. “How dare you?”
After a viral video of world leaders making fun of President Donald Trump surfaced, Trump got in a few digs of his own according to The Daily Beast. With several ambassadors over to the White House, he shot back against Justin Trudeau as well as France’s President Macron.
Trudeau had mocked Trump during a “hot mic” moment, and the video circulated widely on social media. In it, the leaders of allied nations gossiped about Trump liking to do lengthy press conferences. “He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference at the top,” Trudeau said, referring to Trump apparently keeping him waiting. “You just watch his team’s jaws drop to the floor.” Trump responded to the video the next day by calling Trudeau “two-faced”.
Trump said that Trudeau had “no smarts,” “zero toughness”, and that he was “all fluff”, according to a source present who spoke to The Daily Beast. Trump clearly doesn’t like Trudeau, who he sees as phony, and referred to him as “such a child” and a “total baby”.
Many allied leaders purportedly don’t like Trump. When he spoke about Trudeau and Macron, ambassadors to those nations were reportedly “visibly uncomfortable”. Trump was undeterred in his commentary, but senior White House officials reiterated the friendship between allied nations.