Politics

Conrad Black, who battled Chrétien over British peerage, removed from U.K. House of Lords

Former media baron Conrad Black, who famously tried to sue then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in his fight to secure a British peerage, has been removed from the House of Lords over his lax attendance. 

House of Lords Speaker Lord John McFall announced Wednesday that a number of lords have ceased to be members of the House “by virtue of non-attendance,” including the Montreal-born Black, who was known as Lord Black of Crossharbour. The move is effective as of July 9.

Black, who founded the National Post newspaper, went to great lengths to secure that seat — battling the prime minister for two years and ultimately forsaking his Canadian citizenship for two decades.

The House of Lords is part of the British Parliament. Like Canadian senators, its members are appointed, not elected, to scrutinize legislation. Most lords (also known as peers) are appointed by the monarch on the prime minister’s advice, although some inherit their titles.

In 1999, then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered Black, a dual Canadian-British citizen, a peerage to hold a seat in the United Kingdom’s upper chamber.

Chrétien, citing a 1919 resolution that disapproves of bestowing such titles on Canadians, objected and moved to block the appointment.

WATCH | Conrad Black sues over Canada’s denial of British title 

Conrad Black sues over Canada’s denial of British title

The Canadian newspaper owner was all set to be appointed to the House of Lords — until the Chrétien government stopped it.

Black accused Chrétien of advising the Queen not to award the peerage. He launched a lawsuit arguing the prime minister was acting vindictively because he was annoyed with the Post’s criticism of the Liberals at the time. 

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After two courts rejected his attempt to sue Chrétien for abuse of power, Black renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 and accepted the peerage.

The media mogul later said he regretted the decision.

“I was just so enraged at Jean Chrétien’s malice that the only way that I could frustrate him in his success … to oppose my becoming a peer while remaining a Canadian citizen was to do what I did,” Black told the National Post last year.

In the same interview, Black — who was convicted in the U.S. in 2007 on charges of fraud and obstruction of justice and later pardoned by then U.S. President Donald Trump — said his Canadian citizenship was reinstated.

He said at the time he intended to return as a sitting member of the House of Lords.

“I have been an inactive member, but I have been invited to return as an active Conservative peer and I do intend to do that,” he told the newspaper.

“I just haven’t gotten around to it, but I will. I will be relaunching my career as a legislator.”

When reached Wednesday, Black said he not aware that his membership had been terminated. He told CBC News it didn’t really matter to him but he was surprised he wasn’t notified first.

Newly elected U.K. Prime Minister Keir Starmer has vowed to reform the chamber, arguing “too many peers do not play a proper role in our democracy.”

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