TORONTO (NEWS1130) – Former media baron Conrad Black has arrived in Toronto and is at his home in the Bridle Path.

He was released from the Florida prison where he was completing a 42-month sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice just hours earlier.

Despite the fact Black renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to accept a British peerage, the federal government granted his application for a one-year temporary resident permit, paving the way for his return to Canada.

Black was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice charges in 2007 for his business dealings while at the helm of newspaper giant Hollinger. He was re-sentenced last year to 3.5 years behind bars, but released after just eight months with credit for time served.

Black’s home since September had been a nondescript, low-lying, concrete fortress about a half-hour drive from downtown that features outdoor amenities like basketball courts and a baseball diamond.

Inmates dressed head to toe in white could be seen walking yesterday behind the swirls of barbed wire that thread the tall fences. Only the imposing barriers and Department of Justice signs at the gate, which is at the end of the long suburban boulevard lined with towering palm trees, betray the facility as a correctional institution.

Not surprisingly, two days of fierce debate erupted on the floor of the House of Commons when news emerged that Black had been granted a temporary reprieve from the strict conditions that typically keep the majority of convicted felons off Canadian soil.

“Thousands of people are following the rules and waiting their turn to be admitted to Canada,” complained NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, accusing the governing Conservatives of having a double standard.

Friends of the Tories — even those who are no longer Canadian citizens — get special consideration, he railed, while those without the benefit of such political sympathies are left out in the cold.

“Conrad Black is a British citizen, he is still in a US jail, he was convicted of serious crimes in the United States. Why is he being given special treatment?” Mulcair asked.

“No one else has ever been in that situation, of being still in jail having his dossier marched around all the offices of the minister and getting his approval before even getting out of the slammer.”

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney insisted there was no political interference and that the decision to approve Black’s February application for a temporary permit was made entirely by “highly trained, independent members of our public service.”

Headlines notwithstanding, the man emerging from prison is sure to be a shadow in some form of the one who went in.

Montreal-born Black, whose empire was once worth hundreds of millions of dollars and included newspapers in Canada, the US and Europe, told an interviewer last year that his first jail term — during which he cleaned latrines and tutored fellow inmates — had made him “humbler.”

A former head of Hollinger, Black controlled a media empire that included The Daily Telegraph of London, the Chicago Sun-Times and newspapers across Canada and the U.S.

His rise led to an offer of peerage in Britain’s House of Lords, which he had to give up his Canadian citizenship to accept.

The immigration hurdles blocking any return to Canada after his release have apparently been cleared this week when was granted a one-year temporary resident permit.

Stewart said he thinks many people will give Black credit for getting through his legal difficulties with “courage and grace,” noting that in some ways, the scandal and trial were just as tough on Black and his family as his actual imprisonment.