A “gangrenous limb” speaks

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Two of the journalists Conrad Black called “gangrenous limbs:” Bob Blakey (left) and Brian Brennan, raising a glass to the memory of Alberta legend Bob Edwards.

One-time media tycoon, British Lord and American convict Conrad Black generated controversy recently when the Calgary Public Library Foundation named him the recipient of the Bob Edwards Award. The honour is bestowed annually in the Alberta city on an outspoken Canadian author.

Black achieved special notoriety amongst journalists in the city during a bitter strike in 2000 at the Calgary Herald — not least for calling striking journalists “gangrenous limbs.” Black was then chairman of a company called Hollinger, which had accumulated a large number of Canadian newspapers, including the Herald.

One of those “gangrenous limbs” was historian, author and Facts and Opinions founding writer Brian Brennan. Brennan writes on his own blog why, despite the honour bestowed on Black, he still chose to help the foundation host the event. He reports how Black was booed during a speech touching on the travails of Toronto’s embattled mayor Rob Ford, the fall of Richard Nixon, and Black’s own incarceration in an American prison for mail fraud and obstruction of justice.