By Sarah Bennett

Lord Conrad Black is what would happen if Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch had a baby north of the border, but he's still largely unknown in the US.

Like The Tragically Hip, Conrad Black is beyond-famous with great success in Canada and almost no recognition here. That’s where the comparison ends, however, not just because Lord Black is a business tycoon instead of a musician or artist, but because, instead of being beloved, he’s nearly-universally loathed. He’s the Rupert Murdoch of Canada with a little Donald Trump mixed in, a man who’s both received peerage from the Queen and jail time from the courts, and even though he served his term in this country, too many Americans have no idea who he is.

On his way in our out of court, looking charming per usual, in 2007.

Black was born to a wealthy family, and, despite a shoddy record in school, inherited part of the family holding corporation and began his shoddy record in business (early entries include making a crooked deal that took advantage of his mentors’ widows, stealing from workers’ pension plans, and breaking down several of his business for parts, resulting in massive lay-offs).

He then went on to pursue his real passion, publishing. At one point, his Hollinger Group was the third-largest newspaper group in the world, owning the Daily Telegraph in England, Israel’s Jerusalem Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as around 400 small town papers across North America. It was the Chicago Sun-Times ownership that got him imprisoned in this country, because he was accused of looting Hollinger in 2007 (and, while he was only found guilty of misappropriating $600,000 of funds, the amount he was charged with misappropriating was in the hundreds of millions). He had to spend over two years in a Florida Penitentiary on various lesser charges, with no option for Club Fed since he wasn’t an American citizen.  

Black and his wife make some unfortunately choices for a costume party. 

By that point, however, he had renounced his Canadian citizenship so he could become a Lord and claim the title of Baron Black, as bestowed upon him by the Queen. Between that and his habit of giving quotes that would make Trump seem reasonable, many of which were rabidly anti-Canadian ("The destructive fixation of the envious English-Canadian mind requires that the highest, happiest most agile flyers be laid low"), he’d become a larger-than-life bad guy north of the border, and his reputation in the UK wasn’t much better.

He’s been the subject of business news stories here, but he’s nowhere near as well known/reviled as he is in his former homeland (which he is now trying to regain citizenship from, even though they’re after him for back taxes). Of course, given his Trump-like ego (the two are friends), he thinks he’s reached boogey man status in the US, saying, “I have no doubt that mothers in America use my name to frighten their children into finishing their vegetables.” While he thinks too highly of his fame, his assessment of his evil is on point, and should at least be acknowledged by more people this far south.