Conrad Black convicted; expected to appeal

Conrad Black has been convicted on four criminal charges, including obstruction and three counts of mail fraud. He was found not guilty on nine other charges. He now faces the prospect of as much as 35 years in jail.

A Globe and Mail story is here. A CP story is here.

Black’s tale strikes me as tragic. He had a rare shining brilliance that would have allowed him to achieve so much, to create a legacy — for his country, for journalism, for society, for his family name. Instead there is … well, this mess.

Like most everyone excepting a small following of ideological sycophants, I very often disagreed with Black’s actions and views. Like many others, I also greatly respected Black’s significant investment in real journalism and the fact that he actively created space for
those who disagreed with him to have their say. (Disclosure: toward the end of its ownership by Black’s Hollinger, I was on the editorial board of the Vancouver Sun.)

I heard Black speak in Vancouver at a Fraser Institute lunch after he’d sold what could have become one of the world’s great newspaper chains to CanWest, after he dumped his Canadian citizenship to accept the title of the English “Lord Black.” The self-indulgent, taunting speech he gave was loaded with long, complicated and seemingly-erudite words, but all it amounted to was “Lord Black” taking a long pungent piss on everything Canadian. Since then, colleagues tell me, Black changed; in recent years he even praised Canada. It was all too late.

Black is expected to appeal the U.S. court verdict, and maybe he can erase the legal stain. What he cannot erase is the fact he sold out his legacy and his country.