CBC Mask-dropping

May 25th, 2012
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“(Conrad Black) benefited from considerable legal assistance and help from his friends in government.” -

Mike Hornbrook, CBC Radio Economics correspondent

The Conrad Black release and entry into Canada was a big story in some circles, notably the CBC. Some journalists seemed dismayed and put out by Black’s stealthy exit from a Florida prison and sudden appearance at his Toronto home. From the tone of some reports, it sounded like they were hoping for a drawn out process that they could milk over several news cycles. No such luck.

Perhaps that was what accounted for the rather pointed commentary from Mr. Hornbrook, which I paraphrase above. I had the pleasure of hearing several slightly different versions of the CBC story, every hour on the hour, as we drove to our cottage/cabin about two weeks ago.

The theme of each of Mr. Hornbrook’s reports was the same: that the mechanics of Black’s move was achieved with “almost military precision” and astonishing rapidity. Anyone with experience in government, myself included, would agree that hardly anything in the public sector occurs with “precision” and rapidity.

In one of these reports, Hornbrook took it a bit further. He suggested that Black’s “friends” in government, and one can only assumes he means on the political side not (heaven forbid!) in the bureaucracy, had greased the wheels and expedited his entry into Canada.

One consistent part of the CBC narrative was also to repeatedly raise the question whether Black, a convicted felon in the United States, should rightfully be allowed back into Canada.  The fact that the tone and content of this coverage, including that of Mr. Hornbrook, completely mimicked that of the NDP must be purely coincidental. Of course.

Anyone believing that line of reasoning would likely not believe anything Mr. Black himself said about it. Interestingly, Peter Mansbridge continued the same narrative in his exclusive interview with Black earlier this week. He asked whether as a “friend of the Conservatives”, there was a “special arrangement” made for him through his access to the “inner circle”.  For what it’s worth, Black replied that any acquaintance he might at one time have had with the Prime Minister or Minister of Immigration had absolutely no bearing on his case. He very clearly stated that he made “no overture to them at all”.

What Black did admit was that he had some very competent legal help, who interacted with as many as 30 officials in the immigration department. It was this lengthy leg-work, or “pre-planning” as the Stupidists would say, that expedited his entry into Canada. Again, for anyone with first hand knowledge of the immigration system, paying a knowledgeable council to help you navigate it certainly doesn’t hurt your case. So Black’s explanation sounds quite plausible and it was in fact acknowledged by Hornbrook.

I might mention as an aside that the whole “not admitting a felon” argument is itself disingenuous. It was a common practise of the previous federal government to petition the U.S. government to transfer violent imprisoned felons – murderers, rapists, etc. – to Canada to serve their sentences here. As soon as they were on Canadian soil, Canadian laws and by extension sentencing would apply to the convicts.  The result of this was that, because Canadian penalties for many (most?) crimes is less than in the U.S., as soon as the convict set foot in Canada he or she would go free. So this was a policy essentially intended to release violent offenders into Canada. I’m proud to say the current federal government has stopped this practise.

I’m also fairly certain the NDP, for one, favoured these convict transfers. One can only guess what Mr. Hornbrook thinks about them. By that reasoning the NDP should have been petitioning to have Black transferred to Canada. But Black was of course a “corporate criminal”, not a mere murderer or rapist.

We can, as always, be thankful to the CBC for so prudently spending our hard-earned tax dollars. If all else fails, at least they are willing to stand up and defend the integrity of our immigration system.

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By John Weissenberger