Tycoon Black now Lord of Crossharbour
November 1, 2001
The newspaper magnate formally took his seat and title in the House of Lords yesterday, completing a circuitous route to the upper chamber of the British Parliament made possible this summer when he gave up his Canadian citizenship.
Black was not available to discuss his introduction to the Lords, which was supported by former prime minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher and one-time Conservative foreign secretary Lord Carrington.
Lord Black's first speech -- by tradition on a non-controversial topic -- comes later.
The 57-year-old was put forward for a seat among the unelected Lords by former Tory party leader William Hague, with his name included in a list of appointments for 1999.
The Canadian government initially said it had no objections to Black becoming a lord, provided he did not use the title in Canada and that he became a British citizen, which he did in June, 2000.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Shortly after Black was named to the British upper chamber, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien stepped in and invoked a rarely used power that bars Canadians from receiving foreign titles. That blocked the media baron from accepting the lifelong peerage.
Black filed suit but lost his two-year fight against the decision before the Ontario Court of Appeal this year. The appeal court upheld Chrétien's right to advise the Queen in 1999 not to make Black a British lord. Earlier, Ontario Superior Court had dismissed Black's claim that the Prime Minister abused his power and acted in a negligent fashion when his office kept Black from being named a British lord.
Black announced he would renounce his Canadian citizenship in May, which cleared the way for his lordship.
The chairman and chief executive officer of Hollinger Inc., Black has sold most of its Canadian newspapers, including the National Post, a national broadsheet he started in Toronto three years ago, to CanWest Global Communications, owned by Izzy Asper. The Post has yet to post a profit.
When the Queen confirmed his appointment in September, Black told Britain's Hollinger-owned Daily Telegraph: "The Lords is a uniquely talented House of Parliament, and it is a fascinating time in the history of Britain," he told the newspaper he indirectly controls through Hollinger. "This is, therefore, a particularly great honour."
Black has not stated a party affiliation yet, but given his sponsorship by the Conservatives, he is most likely to sit as a Tory.
He follows in the footsteps of two of Canada's great newspaper owners who sat in the Lords: Maxwell William Henry Aitken, who became Lord Beaverbrook; and Kenneth Roy Thomson, known as Lord Thomson of Fleet.
Though unavailable to explain why he choose to be Lord Black of Crossharbour, he appears, like Thomson, to have used a London place name with connections to the newspaper industry.
Once home to Britain's leading national dailies, newspapers have abandoned Fleet Street for newer buildings at Canary Wharf, where the Daily Telegraph is based. Crossharbour is in Canary Wharf.
Documents obtained under the Access to Information Act in Canada this week show Chrétien spent $170,000 in taxpayers' money battling Black in the courts.
Black was ordered by the Ontario Court of Appeal to pay an undisclosed sum to cover some of the government's legal costs. The exact amount has not yet been set.