Conrad Black And The Shameless Canadian Establishment

Posted on Monday, June 04 at 19:54 by Robin Mathews

Conrad Black and the Shameless Canadian Establishment

 

In the sixtieth year of her reign, our beloved monarch probably doesn’t want to have to deal with unhappy thoughts.  Doubtless, she doesn’t want to deal with black lambs who have gone astray from the nobility sheep-fold over which she presides. Almost certainly she doesn’t want to have to deal with someone like Lord Black of Crossharbour, very recently released from a U.S. prison after serving time for criminal convictions involving mail fraud and obstruction of justice.

 

That is probably not, however, the reason Baron Black has avoided Britain since his release from prison. 

 

He clearly doesn’t fear – as he might by going to some Oriental Despotism (or secret U.S. offshore prison) - that he will be  dragged to dungeon, beaten and tortured. The reason he does not go home – it has been suggested – is that in his transatlantic homeland he would face the famous “British Freeze”.  He would be shown, without words, that he is not wanted where Decent Society gathers. And he would probably be shown by his British peers in the House of Lords that his presence is distinctly not wanted there… ever.

 

The British Freeze is a thousand times worse than physical torture to social climbers, we are told. Besides, many of the Establishment in Canada are overjoyed to have Baron Black in their circle. The shameless Canadian Establishment is increasingly made up of supporters of Stephen Harper’s brand of Reaction, called neo-liberalism, called rule by corporations, called the planned destruction of democracy in Canada. 

 

Establishment members are found among the semi-fake “Canadian” corporations who want to defile the environment and Canadian democracy in a lust for riches.  They are found among the decayed and depressingly mediocre members of Canada’s press and media who work to fail at their task of informing Canadians. They are found among so-called “Opposition” parties who refuse to oppose anything that seriously upsets large private corporations. They are everywhere forsaking reform and amelioration – dangerously – and leaving them to forces outside the traditional channels of normal remedy.  More of that later….

 

Seeming, to this observer, to adore public attention and his own visual image, Conrad Black appears to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  He is a kind of bellwether and wunderkind.  He may be said to incarnate the times.

 

Lord Black appears to me to have been an architect of the disintegrating journalistic values in the press of Canada and to have helped introduce to Canada political belligerence and a tireless (apparent) willingness to do public battle against the weak and to seek redress in court for any real or imagined wrong done to him.

 

By others he is proclaimed a pellucid and searching historian.  His books on arch-reactionaries are read and praised by reviewers in the reactionary press. Lord Black is praised by that press for his role in (what is claimed to be) a turning of the Canadian press and media more and more to the Right and to single-minded advocacy of what I would describe as anti-democratic, neo-liberal, wealthy elitist, and corporate rule in Canada.  If that is true, Lord Black wonderfully personifies the condition of our time among the rich and powerful.

 

All over the world – not least in Quebec’s huge student confrontation with the government of Jean Charest – a growing population is demonstrating awareness of the real condition of the economy and culture.  An economic recession in any normal sense is not upon much of the world.

 

Rather, the fall-out from gigantic corporate fraud especially (but not exclusively) among financial, investment, and banking powers has gigantically enriched a few and stripped reasonable security from untold millions. The coming to awareness of the situation is not the result of dynamic, committed, angry, publicly loud action by governments, by opposition parties, and by the media in so-called democracies.  On the contrary.  They are all too frequently cooperating partners with the corporate elite.

 

More dangerous by far, the coming of awareness is engendered by the condition of ordinary people who are increasingly angry at all government.  Meanwhile corporate interests attempt to deflect attention from the real problems.  Lord Black of Crossharbour serves their interests well.

 

Baron Black is frequently presented by an adoring media – it seems to me – as the hugely wronged, well-meaning, captivating, stunningly intelligent, highly moral and perspicacious capitalist entrepreneur who, by a strange set of mishaps, found himself accused of criminal activity in his business dealings. Equally as astonishing, he was tried as a result of those accusations. And, still worse, he was found guilty and spent years in jail.  The cry appears to go up from the steadily diminishing group of owners of Canadian media that there must be something distinctly wrong in  society. How could it permit such an indignity to be visited upon a member of the capitalist and media elite?

 

Lord Black was released from prison and made a lightning flight to Canada (enabled, it is said, by the work of many government employees, but wholly unassisted by the neo-liberal prime minister Stephen Harper – according to determined truth-teller Lord Black).

 

One might note here that Stephen Harper is almost never recorded doing a good or selfless act. We know, too, that he had nothing whatever to do with the clearance Lord Black received in order to be in Canada hours after being released from prison. We know, however, that the two men have strong similarities.  When accused of wrongdoing, both deny all accusations and claim saintly purity. Stephen Harper does it so often he has become a joke in Canada. He is making ‘lyin Brian’ Mulroney look like an amateur.

 

Both Black and Harper are devoted Reactionaries. Both, we may be sure, recognize Baron Black’s usefulness to the cause of what I call the anti-democratic Right in Canada. What better ally could Stephen Harper have in the press and media of Canada than – trumpetted as a near-genius – Lord Black of Crossharbour pumping out material that assaults any ideology Left of Attila the Hun?

 

Lord Black of Crossharbour is so patently valuable an addition to the Harper propaganda team one almost has to question the statement that Stephen Harper had no hand in Black’s lightning flight from prison to Canada.

 

Many might be surprised at the seeming hero-worship of a just-released criminal displayed by the Globe and Mail newspaper when Black returned.  But people should not be surprised.  Passing through a relatively brief set of ‘liberal’ decades, the Globe and Mail has returned home.

 

In the mid-1880s, for instance, (as then the Globe) the paper especially hired a lifelong Annexationist, gave him predominant editorial power, and set him to work to help win what was called Commercial Union with the U.S.A. – which many took for granted would lead to Annexation.

 

The Commercial Union campaign was only stopped when it was discovered by a typesetter that Edward Farrer had prepared and was running off a controlled, limited number of pamphlets to be sent secretly to U.S. politicians instructing them in the punitive measures the U.S. could take to force Canada into U.S. hands.

 

Sir John A. Macdonald (never a Lord), Conservative prime minister, was given copies of some of the proofs secretly removed from the printing house, and he may have won the 1891 election by using them.  “A British subject I was born; a British subject I will die”, John A. is reputed to have said in that campaign.  That was Macdonald’s way of saying in the language of the time that he would never give up his Canadian identity to be a citizen of another country.

 

How unlike Lord Black of Crossharbour!  How Conservatism has changed in Canada!

 

I wrote above that Conrad Black seems to incarnate the times. He is lionized at a time when Canadians face major threats to their democracy.  The threats arise principally from what may fairly be called the Harper government’s crimes against Canada. 

 

They fill a long list.  In 2006 and 2011 the Harper Conservatives attempted to destroy the integrity of the election process.  More recently they have set about to destroy the fair bargaining rights of unions in Canada.  They do nothing to correct (and perhaps, rather, encourage) the top-down corruption of the RCMP and the wholly useless Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.

 

They work to destroy any structures that assure fair environmental assessment in the country.  They undertake deliberate, orchestrated cabinet attack upon the freedom of expression of any opponents of Harper cabinet policy.  They continue to destroy Canadian sovereignty and independence by intimate membership in NATO.  And they rob Canadians of independence by subjection to U.S. law and policy in the (wrongly named) Free Trade treaty.  And more….

 

As in the years before the French Revolution, serious matters of State in Canada are ignored or slighted or lied about by the Mainstream Press and Media, the courts, police forces, and the so-called Opposition parties in all legislatures…led, of course, by the party in power.

 

Attention is focused, instead, upon sensational trivia, and anything is used to mask the real problems. Lord Black is both a pawn and an actor in that masking process: sensational trivia. Lord Black of Crossharbour is welcomed, celebrated, excused, and praised as if his criminal conviction and jail term are badges of honour.  He is one of the present, major crowd-pleasers, one of the subjects employed as a distraction from the country’s real problems.  Such behaviour cannot continue.

 

We know what happened in France in 1789 when the French Revolution broke upon the country.  What seemed – but was in no way – a sudden explosion of force overturned the whole order of society.  The greedy, trivial, grand-standing, profligate ‘higher orders’ were fed through the guillotines like lambs taken to slaughter.

 

The conventional forces providing justice failed overwhelmingly and the people seized power to provide rough justice.  Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) lamented the injustice and undue haste of the revolutionaries. He expressed grief at the beheading of the charming and civilized Marie Antoinette.

 

Historians often agree with Edmund Burke.  They equally often record that the greed, injustice, and insensitivity of those in power brought on the bloody outcome as if it all had been planned long in advance and was almost inevitable, almost – one might say – the Will of God.

 

Those observations matter.  They place the triumphant appearance in Canada of Conrad Black (and his support by a retinue of shameless Establishment supporters) in a different light than the light cast by the adoring media.   The observations suggest that Lord Black of Crossharbour and those who celebrate his superiority may be harbingers of changes to come in Canada that neither Black nor his supporters nor his reactionary political soul-mate Stephen Harper want to see or believe could ever happen.  

 

 

 

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