Deirdre McMurdy

It was inevitable that there'd be a public hoohaw over something that was equally inevitably: the return of Conrad Black to Canada.

Granted, it's unusual that a government should approve the return to Canada of a British citizen being released from a U.S. jail after serving time for fraud and obstruction of justice.

It's also surprising that he'd want to return to Canada where, according to his autobiography, A Matter of Trust, the establishment "operated a back-scratching, log-rolling operation that took care of its own but under-performed the vast potential for the country."

But there it is.

As with so much else about Lord Black, it's polarizing and provocative. And on strictly technical grounds, award of a temporary permit to reside in Canada - as well as the opportunity to apply for Canadian citizenship - is not entirely unprecedented.

Still it rankles with many people. Especially those who care about compromising the standard for others who receive the Order of Canada and the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. Lord Black has continued to retain both honorifics along with the British title for which he renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001.

There are many things about his future that aren't yet certain. But one thing is certain: his oblivion to the damage he has done to others over the years is intact.

His defiantly tin ear for the times in which he lives will continue to distort his reality. That much is clear from A Matter of Principle, the petulant, self-justifying book he wrote in prison and published in 2011 with an eye to settling scores with pretty much everyone.

That refusal to acknowledge how you actions adversely affect others - and to take responsibility for the damage done - is a characteristic that recurs in Lord Black's life story.

He concludes the book vowing that he will return and re-gain his place in society and in business. If he does, brace yourself.