Conrad Black on Donald Trump.

“He knows what he wants,” was the message by Conrad Black to a parliamentary committee examining the current situation on trade relations with the United States. The former Canadian and now an ex-convict and Lord Cross-the-Pond or some such title, was telling the committee about his friend Donald Trump who is currently President of the United States. He said “We are not dealing with a monster here. We are dealing with a reasonable person.”

In thinking about that claim of reasonableness, we need to consider who is making the claim. Since his childhood in Toronto, Conrad Black has been swathed in a context of entitlement. It was the same for a young Donald Trump growing up in New York City. Donald Trump devoted his learning to the horse-trading skills of the confidence man in the development business. Along the way, he tried various routes to gaining excessive wealth. He won some gambles and he lost others. He also pulled off some elaborate development schemes and made money.

In some ways, it was the same for Conrad Black. From the foot-hold he gained in Argus Corporation and its anchor Massey Ferguson, he fashioned a business empire that he then converted to a publishing empire. He raced against the clock building his media empire as the news business fell away behind him.

But for the vagaries of American justice and the time he spent in incarceration for fraud and obstruction of justice, Black would today be enjoying the perks of the British House of Lords. Instead, a non-citizen, he is sequestered in his ‘modest’ retirement home among the multi-millionaires’ mansions on Toronto’s Bridal Path.

But one must still put on the right attitude and do one’s bit for Queen and non-country. Conrad was pleased to share his knowledge of his friend Donald Trump with the Canadian parliamentarians.

He explained that in his business dealings with Trump, the man proved quite consistent in the positions he “ultimately takes.” One gets the impression from Black that Trump can take you on a rather violent roller coaster ride before you find out what he really wants.

Black assured the politicians that any suggestion of Trump being angry with Canada were overblown. He suggested that the current slamming of Canada’s supply management and the tariffs on soft-wood lumber were just Trump’s way of getting our attention.

It seems to work.

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