Former media baron Conrad Black has gone to Federal Court, seeking to be allowed to give his side of the story in front of an advisory council looking into whether he should be allowed to remain an officer of the Order of Canada.
The advisory council told Black last month that he would not be allowed to make his case to the council at an oral hearing.
Black's 1990 appointment to the Order of Canada is under review because of fraud and obstruction of justice convictions related to his tenure as head of the Hollinger newspaper empire. Black served 37 months in a Florida prison for those crimes and was released earlier this year.
A jury had found him guilty in 2007 of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice and acquitted him on nine other charges, including mail fraud, wire fraud, racketeering and tax fraud. An appeals court later overturned two of his fraud convictions, but allowed a single fraud conviction and the obstruction of justice conviction to stand.
The regulations say the council shall consider "the termination of a person's appointment to the Order of Canada if the person has been convicted of a criminal offence."
In a court filing, Black's lawyers are asking for a judicial review of the council's decision not to grant him an oral hearing.
"The facts relating to the issue of terminating the applicant's appointment to the Order of Canada are complex and lengthy and cannot be appropriately dealt with in written submissions only," reads the filing. "Only an oral hearing will ensure that the recommendation of the advisory council is based on 'evidence and guided by principles of fairness.'"
According to the rules governing the termination process, a person whose appointment is being reviewed has the right to "make representations in writing or as the secretary general may authorize." There is no specific mention of the right to an oral hearing.
The 11-member council, which is chaired by Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, is reviewing Black's case and will make a recommendation to Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
Appointment as an officer of the Order of Canada is meant to recognize "a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large."
Black renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to accept a peerage in the British House of Lords. While in prison, he applied for and was granted a temporary resident permit from Canada, which would allow him to live in the country until May 2013. He has said he wants to regain his Canadian citizenship.
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