Rest in Peace Christie

by Glen Canning

One of Canada’s most iconic journalists died yesterday. Christie Blatchford, 68, passed away following a short battle with cancer.

I met Christie once while out walking my pug Ozzy. I’ve read a lot about how she loved dogs and there wasn’t a dog in Toronto she didn’t want to say hello too.

At first I felt like it couldn’t possibly be real. Christie Blatchford saying hi to Rehtaeh’s dog!

Then it hit me. This is an ambush. She’s going to come at me and somewhere there’s a guy with a camera zooming in. God! We moved to Toronto to get lost in a big city and now this is happening.

But she just said hi and walked away. She had no idea who I was and left me there trying to catch my breath, my heart pounding in my chest.

Three weeks after Rehtaeh’s death, Blatchford wrote an article that reads like it was written by the cop who fucked her case up. Rehtaeh died under a mountain of victim blaming and slut shaming. Three weeks after we laid her to rest it happened all over again, thanks to Christie Blatchford.

I read an article this morning written by a close friend of Blatchford stating that the “cops trusted her as their go to reporter,” so it kind of makes sense she’d write something they wanted written. They were, after all, under intense media scrutiny and needed to do something.

But I’ll never know why Blatchford didn’t called us or try to reach out prior to publishing her story. We weren’t hard to find.

We had information that came out after Rehtaeh’s death Blatchford obviously didn’t have and the police officer who helped her write that hit piece didn’t have access to or didn’t want to share. I would have been more than happy to share what I had, had she only asked.

The worst part of that article was the claim that there was “…an independent witness” who “…supported the notion that any sex was consensual.” The fallout from that was devastating and it’s something I still have to deal with every time Rehtaeh’s name comes up in the news.

“Did you read this… Rehtaeh was a liar, … she cried rape because she was embarrassed, … your daughter was a slut… good parenting… read this article by Blatchford. Rehtaeh wasn’t raped!”

To this day that shit happens, thanks to Christie Blatchford.

On page 8 of the Independent Review of the Police and Prosecution Response to the Rehtaeh Parsons Case it states that very witness “did not witness the window incident.” The girl Blatchford wrote about wasn’t even in the house when Rehtaeh became to intoxicated to defend herself.

Blatchford also wrote about the photograph that was taken that night, claiming it “shows virtually nothing that would stand up in court.” A few months later two guilty pleas were entered in a Halifax courtroom for the distribution and production of child pornography.

I read a post on Twitter this morning from someone who knew Blatchford. She shares that Blatchford emailed this to her: “We all make mistakes in this business. I do myself, with alarming regularity. But it hurts no one, and engenders immeasurable goodwill in fact, to ‘fess up quickly, apologize and correct.”

Blatchford did neither of those things.

The only follow up I read was an article she wrote following the second sentencing hearing. In it she describes one of Rehtaeh’s rapists as, “such a slight young man, bright, well-spoken and even capable, albeit in that awkward-bordering-on-ghastly way of the young man, of being thoughtful.” Then she called him brave.

I didn’t share with Blatchford some of the filth that very kid wrote to me and Rehtaeh’s mother.

“You probably raped your daughter her whole life no wonder she was so fucked in the head and all I know is she sucked and fucked every guy in the city and she was tight… keep talking shit cuz I know your face your car where u live and what you do so keep getting lippy bud n u might be going to visit your daughter.”

Blatchford presented him to the country like he was the victim in all this. It was an extremely inappropriate and unforgivable thing to do.

I get it, it’s journalism. Every story has two sides and it takes guts to tell the unpopular side. But the thing is, Blatchford didn’t spend a second scrutinizing his story the way she scrutinized Rehtaeh’s. Instead she wrote a fluff piece like it was a Christmas card.

Blatchford wrote that the boys father was aghast: “In my mind, that’s not how we raised him, to have unprotected sex with anybody, …”

Before he was arrested by the military police, that same father posted this comment on my site, “Rehtaeh couldn’t give or decline consent because she had a mouth full of underage cock.”

I wonder sometimes if Blatchford’s stance on Rehtaeh’s death would have changed if I just forwarded all the hate we were subject to, mainly from the family she sat down with for a fireside chat.

Blatchford had an army of supporters, friends, and colleagues. The outpouring of sentiment and fond memories says a lot about her legacy and who she was as a person and as a journalist. But it’s surreal reading some of the comments about her.

The National Post called her a tenacious  voice for victims. Others say “she was fearless, with an uncompromising sense of justice. If you had been wronged, you could have no better ally than Christie.”

Bullshit. Blatchford would take your side so long as your side had police officers on it and they knew it. Someone within the Halifax Police Department called her and spoon feed her the story of Rehtaeh they wanted written and she wrote it for them.

She wrote if for them with no thought at all of who this was going to hurt or the lasting damage such a biased story would produce.

I lost my father to prostate cancer in 2006. It’s an awful way to die and I don’t wish cancer on anyone. I am truly sorry Christie died this way and that she died way too young.

We lived in the same neighbourhood in Toronto and I’d often see her out walking her amazingly beautiful dog.

Wherever you are Christie, I wish you and your dog well on your next journey.

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Elizabeth February 15, 2020 - 8:25 pm

I knew you all went through a living hell. Having it put into words, it brings it home.
You’re a better person than I am. I would not have been able to be respectful to her at all.
I know you’ve heard it over and over, but I am genuinely so sorry that you all lost your sweet girl. Then to go through the brutal butchering of her on top of that. I can’t even begin to understand the depth of your anguish and frustration. I sincerely hope you find peace and joy at least some days.
Thank you for having the courage to share. Shame on that so called journalist!

A Haligonian February 16, 2020 - 4:41 am

I am an older sister to someone in Rehtaeh’s generation. Her legacy thanks to her spirit and your tireless advocacy, changed the course of history for the better.
I was an avid reader of Ms.Blatchford. Those articles did not get missed by me, and I am sure many other. It was so painful and maddening to read, I, stopped reading her for years. Years..
I want back to read her articles again 2 years ago.
When I read that Christie Blatchford passed, I was sad. Love to all those who used their life to leave meaningful impacts on others. That has to be the definition of resting in peace.
Thank you Mr.Canning for what you and how you did and still doing. Always good to read you.

rzlawrence February 16, 2020 - 6:47 am

Blatchford was and will remain in my mind, a total yellow journalist and nasty bitch

MS Martin February 16, 2020 - 4:09 pm

Thank you your placing ms B’s professional life in perspective. I read your compassionate truly beautiful response to her passing. You have my respect and admiration. Inspiring to read. Your daughter lives on. I send my heartfelt thanks for what you have written

Caroline Belina. February 16, 2020 - 5:59 pm

We support you in a chain of honour, truth and love. I am so angry at people who now still marvel at her evil power yielding. Individual 2.0 Blatch awaits Rush Limbaugh as they shovel locust dung for eternity.

Patrick February 16, 2020 - 7:08 pm

I have some small idea of your pain, though my story doesn’t compare to what your family went through. My little brother was killed two years ago by a reckless driver. You think that if something like this ever happens, the calvary is going to come and shower you with help and support. Instead you’re faced with the indifference and bureaucracy of the police and the justice system. Good on you for speaking out and helping to hold people like Blatchford, a fraud victims advocate, accountable.

kittsinthecouv February 16, 2020 - 7:31 pm

I am so sorry for your loss and that Blatchford’s actions amplified that pain. Thank you for this article. It is honest.

John English February 16, 2020 - 7:46 pm

Thanks for writing this. I’ve been actively reminding people how she treated your daughter and Jack Layton after their deaths. Everyone wants to make her out to be this wonderful journalist who just wanted to help people. She would help you as long as you agreed with her version of the truth.

People seem to have conveniently forgotten how cruel she could be.

Another Torontonian February 16, 2020 - 9:43 pm

The grace you demonstrate towards the untimely death of someone who wounded you so deeply is something I will remember for a long time.

Lynn Hussesy February 17, 2020 - 12:09 am

To me, it’s totally unbelievable how cruel and nasty people can be to others, then to top it all off, to someone who has suffered such a terrible loss. It’s why I love animals more then humans, they have more compassion. Shame of them and shame on Blanchford. I hope you find some peace for you and your family.

pearla February 17, 2020 - 12:50 am

The scenario the boy describes to Christie was patently unbelievable and most certainly coached by a lawyer. Christie didn’t question it. Crack reporter my ass. She was a woman-hater. Called now, internalized misogyny. She was openly jealous and vile toward other woman.

pearla February 17, 2020 - 12:55 am

P.S. If people want to read the work of a truly admirable writer and reporter, someone who deserved every accolade and more, google Anne Kingston, who died Feb. 12. She is eulogized in Macleans magazine.

Paula February 17, 2020 - 4:40 pm

She did the same victim blaming with Caitlan Coleman. On a human level I’m sorry she got cancer, but that doesn’t mean I have to pretend she was a hero journalist who didn’t cause irreparable harm to victims and their families.

Susan February 19, 2020 - 12:19 pm

I found this through a friend of a friend and just want to acknowledge how brave you are- and offer my condolences on the loss of your daughter as well as for all the crap this and others caused.
I have no words for the other person(s) I do not wish to repeat her name so as to remember it in years to come- instead I will remember Rehtaeh- and your family

Y.C. Lee, Tenor February 19, 2020 - 1:10 pm

People like Christie Blatchford and her supporters don’t really protect other women. They are faux progressives. How can we dare call ourselves a civil society when it’s the these types of people that do nothing to defend and protect women everywhere.

Kevin G February 25, 2020 - 10:14 pm

I’m not disagreeing with any of this, but why wasn’t this perspective published while Blatchford was still alive?

Glen Canning February 25, 2020 - 10:59 pm

It was.

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