Addressing Christie Blatchford’s article

by Glen Canning

26apr13aThis morning I woke up and read an article in the National Post about Rehtaeh’s case. I’m not upset or mad. A little disappointed maybe. The writer, Christie Blatchford, makes a few statements I would like to address.

“What they had was a complainant whose evidence was all over the map, independent evidence that supported the notion that any sex was consensual, and no evidence that Rehtaeh was so drunk that she couldn’t consent: The case was a mess.” ~ Christie Blatchford

“What they had was a complainant whose evidence was all over the map,…” Rehtaeh was intoxicated at the time and she has always stated she couldn’t remember much of what happened. What she did say was all over the map and that is exactly what one should expect it to be from a 15 year old girl who remembers very little but is being swamped at school and online with slut stories about what took place.

“…independent evidence that supported the notion that any sex was consensual, and no evidence that Rehtaeh was so drunk that she couldn’t consent:” The two boys involved in taking and posing for the photograph stated Rehtaeh was throwing up when they had sex with her. That is not called consensual sex. That is called rape. They also stated they had to get her dressed when they were finished. She was passed out. That is the story they told to anyone at Rehtaeh’s school who would listen. That is their account of what happened. There are numerous people who heard that and shared that. No evidence she was so drunk that she couldn’t consent? How drunk does someone have to be? Drunk enough to get sick or drunk enough to not remember?

The photo is of a male naked from the waist down, giving a thumbs-up sign, pressing into the bare behind of another person who is leaning out a window. What the picture doesn’t reveal, however, is a recognizable face, if there even was a sexual assault going on, or if the second person was a female.”

What did the person in the photograph say? That it was him, that the female was Rehtaeh, that she was vomiting, and that he was having sex with her. He repeated that story many times to many people all while texting that photo to God knows who. Hard to believe that could be presented to the Crown and dismissed but there you go.

“But there are two sides, even to this wrenching tale.”

With that I agree. There are two sides:

  • Rehtaeh’s side, that she was intoxicated, throwing up, and raped;
  • and the boys side, that she was intoxicated, throwing up, and she wanted to have sex.

So in the end all we’re left with is the Criminal Code of Canada that states pretty clearly that what happened to Rehtaeh Parsons is called rape. Even if there was consensual sex before Rehtaeh passed out and got sick once she was in that state consent is no longer there. That’s not called regret, it’s called the law.

So why weren’t they charged? I honestly have no idea. Reading the statistics it’s not surprising but I have no idea in this case. The boys who raped Rehtaeh bragged about it. They photographed it. There’s more evidence in Rehtaeh’s case then there was in the Steubenville case.

“Proving the modern maxim that she who gets to social media first may set the script in stone, the post ignited a firestorm.”

That is exactly what happened to Rehtaeh. The slut story spread around her school like a firestorm via social media while she desperately tried to deal with it. Her efforts weren’t perfect but she did her best. Sorry it wasn’t the 100% perfect case that rape victims need in this country in order to get justice but she tried. And for that I am very proud of her.

I told Rehtaeh all the time that justice is a long shot and even than people will think she either asked for it, or she deserved it. I just wanted her to be prepared. She just wanted to be believed.

She mentioned last year a friend of hers was raped under similar circumstances by one of the same boys. I jumped at that because it would help support her case but Rehtaeh’s friend wasn’t interested in coming forward or talking to the police. She said she watched what had happened to our daughter and there was no way she was going to put herself through that. Who can blame her? Isn’t that why most rape victims say nothing? Because it’s never about the rapist, it’s always about the victim.

“The girlfriend of Rehtaeh’s who was at the party told police Rehtaeh was being flirtatious, …”

It’s always about the victim.

Christie Blatchford: Why there will never be a case against the alleged Rehtaeh Parsons rapists

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Laine Parnell April 26, 2013 - 11:35 am

the perfect rape victim ‘an 80 year old nun with multiple stab wounds’ is just an excuse for the all pervasive rape culture. to not act, to close one’s eyes. to avoid the truth that girls and women (and boys) are being raped by the thousands with no hope of justice. and simpering synchophants like the NP writer pander to that culture.

Sorry April 26, 2013 - 11:39 am

Hello, I just wanted to post a comment, to support your assessment.

I read that this morning (just a few minutes ago), and was STUNNED. Honestly, my first, and continuing reaction to the article is “who got to this reporter?”…”who is this reporter trying to protect?”….

this article sounds to me, like a “circling of the wagons”….and brings me to wonder..
-WHY was this police report leaked to her?
-Is there some concern there and they are looking for some reporter to be sympathetic (I wonder if you are the only one given access to a leaked report, if you might indeed present the story their way?)
-long and short, victim was unable to give consent, not addressed
-long and short, victim was underage, same
-who supplied the alchohol for this “party”- is there some legal liability? – have read that bar owners or same who served alchol being held liable for accidents causing death, related to driver’s alchol consumption?
-AND so much more..

I (as a completely uninvolved person, who does not know you or anyone in this), would like to say regarding this article..

I am sorry. To You. To Your Daughter. To Her Mother. To Her Siblings.

Someone should.

Mrs Jones (@the_tinajones) April 26, 2013 - 11:54 am

What the hell is wrong with boys these days? We partied as young teens in the 70’s and, if ever a girl passed out drunk at a party, all a boy would do is make sure she was lying on her side & put a blanket on her – at least to my knowledge anyway. Something is off with how these teen boys are being parented.

If one of those teen girl victims were my daughter, I would give Anonymous carte-blanche permission to humiliate them as they pleased. Give those abusers just a taste of what their cruelty did to Rehtaeh. Maybe that’s just me.

James Bremner August 17, 2013 - 7:46 pm

Mrs. Jones, I have a realistic answer to your question, “What the hell is wrong with boys these days?”

I suspect that a lot of what is wrong with young men these days can be attributed to a steady diet of internet porn. That may explain the phenomenon of sexting that we see among youngsters.

I agree with your assesment that “something is off with how these teen boys are being parented” except that I would add that teen girls are no better in any measurable way.

Internet pornography, video games, weed, alcohol and most of all, poor examples of adulthood.

James Bremner

Islander April 26, 2013 - 2:28 pm

Very well written. Stay strong.

miranda indrigo April 26, 2013 - 5:20 pm

I just wanted to say how sorry I am for what Rehtaeh went through and what your family is going through now. I have no words to respond to the Blatchford article, other than to say she is morally bankrupt and shameful. I have a four-year-old daughter and Rehtaeh’s story breaks my heart. Your family has my deepest condolences. Thank you for using this tragedy to build awareness and political change.

Gillian Wallace April 26, 2013 - 5:59 pm

I am so sorry, so deeply sorry that you and Rehtaeh’s mother have to read such garbage as that written by Blatchford. If it’s any comfort to you, most of us have long known that Blatchford is a horrible writer with her head stuck firmly back in some dark closet.

I pray and pray for comfort for you all and for comfort for Rehtaeh’s soul. And I pray that justice will be done, in heaven, even if it never gets done on earth.

Thank you for writing. Because you’re helping to educate others.

Glen Canning April 30, 2013 - 3:45 am

Thank you for your kind words Gillian.

Nisi April 26, 2013 - 6:38 pm

I am so sorry that this happened in the first place and that you & your family have to keep dealing with this in such a public fashion. I, for one, am happy that this case is focusing some scrutiny on the police and our justice system and am just sorry that it took something so awful to bring it about. I hope you keep finding the strength to tell Reteah’s story.

Ian Smith April 26, 2013 - 6:39 pm

You dont know me and I’m from the other side of the planet ( English ) but just wanted to add my voice to say I’ve followed Rehtaeh’s story and your family’s strong and utterly dignified battle to get justice for your daughter , dont give up , journalists like this sicken me with more than an eye for selling newspapers plus supporting the status quo with half refferenced so called sources. Words fail me , I can understand others trying ( in vain ) to defend family members from the consequences of their actions but not a { so called } journalist.

Personally i find rape and the degradation of another human being to that of an object beyond words .. My sincerest wishes for you all to get closure and justice

Rehtaeh Parsons’ father takes issue with National Post report, says his daughter was raped | April 26, 2013 - 6:43 pm

[…] In a blog today, he wrote that the Criminal Code states clearly that what happened to his daughter is called rape. […]

tara Larose April 26, 2013 - 7:05 pm

Thank you for publishing the information in the blog. My heart aches for this family and for the pain this young woman felt. You cannot consent to sex when you are drunk. Getting girls high and drunk at parties is a predatory sport with a long history. When are we going to stop this?

Jennifer Newsome April 26, 2013 - 7:11 pm

My heart is just aching for you everyday. I am following this case and praying for you, and her mother!! I pray that you find comfort and peace as the days pass. I pray for justice for your little girl . I pray for the boys and their supporters conscience to appear. I pray for society .
I have a 12 yr old boy, and we have told him about this story. I had a long talk to him about rape, consent , respect, and ALSO about being a protector of girls and keeping an eye on intoxicated girls. Making sure they are safe. I pray he remembers and honors this
You have many supporters !!

Sam pindiprolu April 26, 2013 - 7:26 pm

I feel very sorry for you both going through this hell after loosing your daughter. Those so called writers feels that they can write whatever they want and didn’t need to bother how the victims will feel about their stupid writings. I completely agree with you both and fully understands your feelings. I only pray that this writer may get some wisdom and will quit writing of nonsense.
Please understand that we all with both you in this critical hour.
Kindest regards

Rehtaeh Parsons’ father responds to Christie Blatchford | April 26, 2013 - 7:39 pm

[…] with visitors, Canning’s blog has become inaccessible. Here’s the full text, republished with Canning’s […]

Cleo Howe April 26, 2013 - 8:49 pm

We all know that there are two sides to every story but any parent of a teenage girl knows you are living their worst hellish nightmare. Canada needs strong cyberbullying laws and I’m sorry it’s your family that has had to suffer because of this.

Duece April 26, 2013 - 9:18 pm

The Evidence is all over the map???? what is this reporter and these independed investigators smoking..
The Evidence is right there in your face..
She was a MINOR!! .. no evidence to say that she was so drunk that she couldnt consent . WOW!
Again she was a “Minor” .That is Statutory rape at best! .. Distribution of liquor to a “Minor” what thats not Illegal ??..Making a sex tape without consent then posting it for the world to see .. That is producing and distributing in child pornography is it not?

What of this girl that got her mom to try and make Rehtaeh’ leave? why didnt she call her mom or dad and have them come remove her and take her home? huh??
she was probably the irresponsible home owner that allowed underage drinking and other untoward goings on in her home and presence.
I really hope Rehtaeh”s family sues this person for providing alcohol to minors thereby setting into motion the rape and production and distribution of child porngraphy .

Yvette April 26, 2013 - 9:27 pm

Even for Christie Blatchford this is a disgusting new low. She and the likes of Tom Flanagan have managed to distort common Canadian values and ethics for far too long.

Karol K April 26, 2013 - 9:29 pm

There is plenty of blame to spread around regarding your daughter’s tragic death. No so long ago 18 years old Sara Carlin of Oakville, Ontario also hanged herself . In her case it were antidepressants that drove her kill herself.
Just ask yourself did your daughter get such drugs as well after she was raped?

Darryl April 26, 2013 - 9:59 pm


Darryl April 26, 2013 - 10:07 pm

Intoxicated, throwing up and wanted to have sex really! That is a load of crap and Reteah was in no condition for consent! It was rape and these guys need to be charged as well as sister of one of these guys for harassing and bullying Reteah
Christie for writing something like this is garbage, first by the guys side come on and also the girl that was ticked off at Reteah, she sure would tell the truth yeh right. We never took advantage of girls that were intoxicated and throwing up! My question is what have these parents of these guys taught them, it is ok to take advantage and it it ok to bully and harass anyone. Give your head a shake.
My deepest Sympathy to Reteah’s family and the garbage they read from this reporter!

Susan Walker August 8, 2013 - 1:37 pm

Christie Blatchford just set the standard for reporting back 50 years. I guess I have been living under a rock for a while and am just catching up to this story today with the news of the arrests of the two boys. I have been reading about the case and unfortunately came upon Christie Blatchford’s editorial. I realize that part of her job is to present a different viewpoint to the reader and create interest in any way possible but she should have left this one alone. There are so many issues to create controversial reaction over in the press every day. This was just an exercise in slamming this poor girl without one statement being made that she could actually prove.
I do not have children but I feel deeply for everyone involved in this and this was clearly irresponsible press promiscuity. Christie Blatchford wrote it because she can. Perhaps she is getting along in years and don’t understand teenage culture. You seem to be of an opinion that harks back to another era of “she was asking for it”. Christie Blatchford is not evolving shown by the drivel in her column about Rehteah. My advice is to hold the National Post responsible for allowing this to be printed and STOP buying the paper.

Keith G. August 22, 2013 - 10:52 pm

Long, long, log ago I realized that Christie Blatchford is one of a small number of journalists who lack any real talent or integrity, and who (likely for that reason) must constantly write articles that will prompt revulsion among reasoned individuals. Blatchford is a hack. she’s a hack’s hack. For that reason, she will always have employment at the National Post. She reminds me of another writer for a Toronto newspaper, a writer who lacks the ability to avoid plagiarization in her op-ed articles.

Blatchford’s opinion piece with regard to Rehtaeh Parsons is nothing out of the norm to which Blatchford is wedded. Both the article and Blatchford herself are a disgrace.

Rob April 26, 2013 - 10:35 pm

The “side” Blatchford has presented from unverified sources (probably the sister of one of the accused who is very good at parroting what she has been told do not match the statements of the accused.

Her analysis of the child pornography is so broken it is baffling. They specifically shared it to destroy a girls life and ruin her emotionally. They did this with full intent to sexually victimize Rehtaeh. This was a premeditated act and vicious beyond belief. They told everyone who was in that picture. They created it and distributed it and have also admitted to this to many people.

She omitted many highly important details, most notably that some of the accused and their friends are alleged to have pepper sprayed three of Rehtaeh’s friends and knifed one of them after taunting them about her. She ignores other reports of their acts of intimidation and that their friends sexually harassed Retaeh. They attacked her incessantly through others. This was psychological and sexual abuse on an unbelievable inhuman scale. Their actions since that night has revealed much of their character and what their state of mind was that night.

Christie Blatchford is not acting remotely like a responsible journalist. She is propogating hearsay and intentional misinformation. She is exploiting the death of a child who was driven to mental illness through sadistic psychological abuse to the point of suicidal depression that took her life. She is not seeking truth. She is seeking profit and attention.

She focuses on the allegations of rape and the broken investigation and misses the most important crime that was committed here. The intentional harm and promotion of harm that took the life of a child. Neurological trauma is often far worse than physical one and in this case and many others it is lethal. It was not bullying. It was murder.

lauren raine April 26, 2013 - 11:02 pm

I am so very sorry for your loss, and for this tragedy. You are very right when you say that it’s always about blaming the victim – we need to really get this, so this doesn’t happen again. The hatread and need to humiliate and punish a young woman, which is what rape is invariably about, needs to be addressed profoundly.

Thank you for speaking out, even as you suffer this terrible loss of a beautiful child.

Carmen Vinci April 27, 2013 - 1:55 am

Mr. Canning, SUE: Sue the school, the police, the boys in civil court, the police won’t charge them in criminal court. I’m sure the publick will rise to the occasion and help financially.

Mike Antonio Asuncion April 27, 2013 - 6:51 am

Bravo zulu.

Glen, my first thought after reading Blatchford’s article was, well, perhaps things are always not as simple as they seem. And then I realized that the same could be true for why Blatchford wrote such an article knowing full well how offensive, hurtful and controversial it would be. I am neither a lawyer nor a member of law enforcement. I have, however, studied some aspects of criminal and administrative law and understand very well the mindset of bullies and victims as I myself have experienced this first hand as one of the latter.

As you and other journalists know, Blatchford has a reputation for writing shock-value stories which tend to be extraordinarily biased towards the police and prosecutors (not surprisingly given that she relies heavily on their intel for her bread and butter). To say that Blatchford is not exactly the most objective journalist is something of a colossal understatement. A writer for the Ryerson School of Journalism once described her style as ” trial by journalist “.

As Blatchford appears to be so concerned about the so-called facts, let’s indulge her. She states that all of her information is basically coming from ” information from sources close to the investigation…” . Translation- her cop/lawyer buddies heard something and thought it was their civic duty to ignore their professional codes of conduct and provide sufficient tongue-wagging to discredit the entire case against the accused (not to mention themselves as police/prosecution incompetence is a very real issue on the table here). As Blatchford is a shock journalist, all that is required is some supposedly inside information pointing in a certain direction. The rest can be simply deduced because she is quite obliged to pass judgement in her celebrated articles. Any evidence that conflicts with this deduction shall be conveniently discarded. Like for example, why it took so long to interview the accused. Why there seemed to be little effort to follow an overwhelming digital trail, not least the possible EXIF metadata which potentially can identify a device serial number, a time, date and even GPS coordinates at which a photograph is taken. But never mind. All that is required for her article to resonate and stoke the flames is some half truths.

Here are a few examples. She states that there was ” independent evidence, including retrieved online messages, that supported the suggestion the sex that took place was consensual. ” Even if this started out consensually, this can change and that makes all the difference. This is not me saying this, just read the Criminal Code of Canada which states:

” (2) No consent is obtained, for the purposes of sections 271, 272 and 273, where

(b) the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity;

(e) the complainant, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity. ”

The fact that in this case, the complainant was indisputably intoxicated would at the very least call into question whether she was capable of consent. The fact that the complainant vomited out of window should have suggested in itself that any consent was suspended. Blatchford states there was online evidence of her considerable regret. This alone could indicate that perhaps there was no consent. If such evidence is true, contrary to what Blatchford claims, it strongly suggests that such regret may have been connected to the likelihood that she was NOT in state of mind conducive to consent.

These are all conclusions that you came to but I arrived at these even before fully reading your article.

Blatchford refers to a statement by a so-called friend of the complainant about the latter being ” flirtatious. ” If things were initially consensual but later not, this might explain that statement. But any good legal counsel would also make note of the obvious corollary. As Blatchford states, ” The friend was furious – she had a crush on one of the two boys and had asked Rehtaeh to stay away from him.” This apparently jealousy in itself is grounds to call into question the validity of some aspects of that witness’s (i.e. the friend’s) testimony.

It is fair game under certain circumstances in court to question a witness’s credibility by examining their character. Let’s look at the character of the so-called boys. If the police doubted the story of the complainant, this suggests they placed relatively more weight on statements made by the accused. One of the accused hardly denied his involvement. He boasted about it. He thought he had bragging rights, This is the mentality of young men today- not all but many, especially those who embrace the gangsta culture. I know this because str8up I used to be one of them. That mentality objectifies women as bitches. Just listen to any hip hop song. Hence the thumbs up. It was not simply look at me. It was like look at me, I know I’m committing a f*cking offence and I’m taking an instagram of it for future reference.

Glen, your article in contrast was one of the most extraordinarily objective articles I have read in a long time and I am fairly well read, Quite apart from all the perspicacious observations, I also base this on the fact that potentially it could have been quite subjective and angry but instead was fair, insightful and just to your daughter and others. Anyone can see that unquestionably, as we say in the military, as far as dear Rehtaeh was concerned, you always led by example.

M. Antonio

Jan April 27, 2013 - 1:35 pm

I want to thank men like you, who stand up for their daughters and women in their lives. This is 2013, and that is multiple rape! No question. My heart goes out to you, your daughter is beautiful. I want to know who is bringing up these teenage boys with no morals or respect for women? id they help ply her with more alcohol or drop something into it? With friends like that who needs enemies? They are basically saying that they had a right to rape and abuse a minor young female. Who are their supposed parents? I want to see their faces and shame them. They all need to take responsibility, for the paiin and immoral acts I’m sure they will never understand as you do.

Bless you. It’s bad enough to loose your daughter, and now to go through all of this. I hope justice happens for your beautiful daughter and you and her family, and for all young women in the future. Wishing you much strength, peace and light at the end of this unbelievable tunnel.

Ian April 27, 2013 - 3:09 pm
Ian Smith April 27, 2013 - 3:14 pm

Hi Glen sorry should have been this link should you wish to use it


Sarah April 27, 2013 - 4:00 pm


As a parent of two boys who have only recently left their teen-aged years, who as have been to unsupervised parties where alcohol was consumed, I felt an awareness conversation about what happened to your daughter, Rehtaeh was in order. I was surprised to discover that they were both aware and well-informed about Rehtaeh. Both my children expressed great distress about the events leading to Rehtaeh’s suicide. We spoke of the massive outpouring of support you have received since Rehtaeh’s suicide. We also spoke about how much easier it is to throw your support behind what is currently the popular opinion and that what your daughter needed was the support when it was not “popular,” and to do this they, my children, and I have agreed we have a life-long obligation. I believe my children understand what such an obligation means. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation and the justice system, we, as a society, can not deny that we have failed the Rehtaeh’s of our world. My sons and I will remember our commitment to recognize those around us needing protection and to act to protect them, regardless of popular opinion, at the moment protection is required. We are sorry it is too late for Rehtaeh. While what has happened may bring about awareness and change, it is small consolation to a parent and a family.

Take good care.


Megan April 28, 2013 - 10:36 pm

I am a 33 year old female…When I was 13 I made out with a 16 year old high school boy…He later told everyone in High school ( I was still in Junior High, hadn’t even got to high school yet) that I had sex with him…There wasn’t even social media then!…I was not raped…but even that hurt me deeply as a teen….I didn’t even have sex with him..not even close, but the damage was done…no one believed me.
Girls have a harder time finding who they are, a harder time being independent….Harder time with not caring if they are liked. Males still have that power…to make us feel worthless, to use us or…to make us feel safe, special and important.
Mothers please raise respectful sons.
Women…we have to start taking the power of our sexuality away from men…put value on ourselves…be smart, aggressive but independent

New details on Rehtaeh Parsons reignite the 'He said/She said' debate - Chatelaine April 30, 2013 - 12:50 pm

[…] Canning may have summed up the whole sad tale best in his response to Blatchford’s column. On his blog, Canning said he agrees with Blatchford’s contention that there are “two sides” to the […]

M May 1, 2013 - 11:10 pm

Why did Christie Blatchford even feel entitled to write an opinion piece? It was disgusting and self-promoting. Good on you for your reasoned response, my sincere sympathies and prayers for your family and loved ones.


Helen S July 6, 2013 - 5:28 am

My sincere condolences to you and your family. You are in my prayers.

Susan August 10, 2013 - 12:03 pm

There you have it…”She mentioned last year a friend of hers was raped under similar circumstances by one of the same boys. I jumped at that because it would help support her case but Rehtaeh’s friend wasn’t interested in coming forward or talking to the police. She said she watched what had happened to our daughter and there was no way she was going to put herself through that. Who can blame her? Isn’t that why most rape victims say nothing? Because it’s never about the rapist, it’s always about the victim.”
Maybe, just maybe, if we left the names of the victims out of the media, they would come forward. This guy is becoming a pro at what he does. Raping young girls!
It sounds like he is a testosterone engorged spoiled brat, full of himself and proving to the world that he is a man’s man. I wonder how he would feel if lies were being spread about him? Since the pics do not show a face, maybe some pictures with his thumbs up should be circulated with a caption saying something to the affect that he prefers men. (Please understand that I am not in any way putting down the gay community. Just wanting to prove my point). I would bet that given the choice of the two scenarios, he would choose admitting that he raped Rehtaeh. (Sorry, no delicate way of saying it, but I think you get the point). How many more rapes has he gotten away with? How many more will he get away with it? I get the feeling that the only thing he regrets is that his and his Family’s precious reputation has been tarnished. I would also guess that, that would be the message he received from his Parents….how could you do that to our Family? Not…how could you do this to a young girl who was defenceless and against her will? Where have the morals of people gone? Very sad!

MMM August 12, 2013 - 9:31 am

I cant help but feel that had this been 2-4 black boys from North Preston that charges would have been laid on day 1! How sad it is that these dirty disgusting dirt bag boys would do something like this and think it to be funny and even worse that there parents have not locked them in a basement never to be allowed out again and even worse that the police failed this young woman. I’m so sorry for you R, i only wish I could provide u some justice.

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