Linda McQuaig addresses the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees annual convention in 2008. (AUPE photo taken by Daryl Dyck.) Below: Conrad Black in the uniform of the Governor General’s Foot Guard, and not, as you may have thought, that of a security guard.
It occurs to me that we Canadians may soon actually have something for which we can be grateful to Conrad Black!
I know that for most readers of this blog this will come as an astonishing thought. Indeed, it would be fair to describe this as a unique development in the long and rocky relationship between Canada and Lord Black.
Still, should Linda McQuaig emerge on the evening of Nov. 25 as the next Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre, surely his Lordship will deserve a small portion of the credit!
Ms. McQuaig, a prolific and talented author and journalist, is well known today as one of Canada’s leading public intellectuals. Indeed, even the National Post recently admitted that is so – although accompanied by the claim she’s only one of “very few well-known public intellectuals of the Canadian left.”
This, it should be noted, is not because of any shortage of Canadian intellectuals of the left, rather the well-known propensity on loony-right journals like the Pest to refuse to give them any ink – or electrons or whatever it is one gets nowadays from what’s left of the media.
At any rate, for many years Ms. McQuaig been an effective critic of the corporate domination of everything, and more recently she been chosen by the New Democratic Party to bear its orange banner in the by-election in Toronto West, where she lives, and where a vote is scheduled to take place on Nov. 25 to replace the now-retired but never retiring Bob Rae, a Liberal with a New Democratic history.
Ms. McQuaig is a credible and creditable candidate for the federal Opposition party, notwithstanding the Pest columnist’s tendentious, as it were, attempt to sow fear and division in the NDP ranks by arguing she has flip-flopped insufficiently to suit the Organized Right, and by all accounts now has an opportunity to bring her considerable rhetorical talents to the national stage.
Lord Black, meanwhile, a former newspaper owner and former Canadian citizen, is known as one of Canada’s leading public intellectual nuisances.
Lately, His Lordship has been whiling away his hours writing increasingly soporiferous and, his age notwithstanding, sophomoric columns about how the United States is finished, washed up, done like dinner owing to the fact President Barack Obama is so un-presidentially hesitant to drop bombs on new Middle Eastern countries.
Lord Black is able to reach a large audience for this gloomy piffle apparently owing to his prominent role in the establishment of the National Pest, mentioned above, the signally vexatious website that got its start and still has a lingering half life as a print publication of the sort once used to wrap fried fish in the days before the ingestion of printer’s ink had been recognized as a serious health hazard.
Lately, for some reason, Lord Black also has been championing the cause of prison reform, an unexpected point in his favour.
Regardless, it was Lord Black who far back in the day opined that Ms. McQuaig ought to be “horsewhipped” for something she had written that offended his Lordship’s tender sensibilities.
On another occasion he dismissed her as a “weedy and not very bright, leftist reporter,” a comment Ms. McQuaig recalled in a Toronto Star piece a few years ago that apparently prompted some of her friends to suggest she sue him for libel.
“But there was the problem of proving his attack had damaged me,” Ms. McQuaig confessed in the Star on, appropriately enough one supposes, Bastille Day 2007. “In truth, it’s hard to imagine where my career as an anti-establishment author would be today without such colourful swats from Canada’s most flagrant and widely detested business tycoon.”
Our dual Houses of Parliament have been the home of late to rather too many Conservative journalists whose idea of literary achievement is filling out their Senate expense claims or Tweeting twaddle about the Tory Party’s high ethical standards in that same chamber.
Having someone like Ms. McQuaig in Parliament, it is said here, would brighten the benighted hallways of that institution considerably and do much to improve the reputation of the journalistic trade as well.
That may be why Mr. Rae’s present party, as opposed to his former one, has chosen another fine journalist to represent it in the same riding – Chrystia Freeland, who like Ms. McQuaig once worked for the Globe and Mail.
But, really, can Ms. Freeland claim to have been insulted by Conrad Black. I thought not!
Surely that alone, not to mention the intellectual and literary accomplishments that set apparently envious Pest columnists to dispensing hysterical and dyspeptic fulminations, should be sufficient to decide the contest in Ms. McQuaig’s favour!
And if she wins on Nov. 25? Well, given his contribution to that development, perhaps someone will nominate Lord Black to the Order of Canada for at last providing a service to his former nation and present home.
This post also appears on Rabble.ca.