Conrad Black says he's regained the Canadian citizenship he renounced in 2001

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Conrad Black says he has regained his Canadian citizenship, more than 20 years after he renounced it following a well-publicized fight with then-prime minister Jean Chrétien over accepting a British peerage.

Black provided The Canadian Press with a copy of an opinion piece he says is to be published Saturday by the National Post, the newspaper he founded and regularly contributes to, saying he received his Canadian passport this week.

"My status in this country was for some years a matter of some controversy and curiosity. These disagreeable memories made the arrival of my Canadian passport by special delivery at my home this week a particularly welcome event," Black wrote.

The former media mogul was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice in 2007 and spent time in a Florida federal prison for what prosecutors alleged was a scheme to siphon millions of dollars from the sale of newspapers owned by Hollinger Inc., where he was chief executive and chairman.

The Montreal-born Black was deported to Canada and later granted a pardon by then-president Donald Trump, who he has called a friend and about whom he wrote a glowing biography. Under U.S. law, a pardon represents full legal forgiveness for a crime, and Black has maintained he was a victim of an unfair criminal justice system.

"The entire ghastly episode is concluded with the resumption of my Canadian citizenship," he wrote.

A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser says the department does not comment on specific cases, citing privacy legislation. The government has said passport services have been heavily affected during the current Public Service Alliance of Canada strike.

Black’s 1999 invitation to the British House of Lords pitted him in an unsuccessful legal battle with Chrétien. The prime minister moved to block it, telling Queen Elizabeth II the government's position was that a Canadian should not be made a lord, citing a non-binding 1919 resolution. Black, a dual Canadian-British citizen, alleged the move was payback for his past criticism and noted other Canadians had been knighted without issue.

"By this time, I was more concerned with thwarting Chrétien's preposterous claims to extraterritoriality and the cowardice of the Canadian judiciary than I was with becoming a British baron, and it was in those circumstances that I renounced my Canadian citizenship, with the implacable stated intention to resume my Canadian citizenship as soon as I could,” he writes in the op-ed.

Black renounced Canadian citizenship in 2001 and assumed the British peerage as Lord Black of Crossharbour, which according to a photo supplied to the National Post appears to be the surname printed on his new Canadian passport.

In the op-ed, he claims the Canadian courts overseeing his dispute with Chrétien acted with “contemptible pusillanimity,” and the former prime minister himself acted “maliciously”. Yet in closing the piece, he says he made no issue of the queen bestowing Chrétien the Order of Merit, which he claims in a parenthetical note violated the same 1919 resolution.

“I'm not an expert at turning the other cheek but in this case, it is the best course,” he writes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2023.

Jordan Omstead, The Canadian Press