Christie Blatchford Is Mean

Yes, Rosie just wrote something on this but I wanna chime in. Page B8 of today’s Leader-Post has a jerky article by syndicated columnist Christie Blatchford about late NDP leader Jack Layton. Here’s an example:

And what to make of that astonishing letter, widely hailed as Layton’s magnificent from-the-grave cri de coeur? It was extraordinary, though it is not Solomon’s repeated use of that word that makes it so. Rather, it’s remarkable because it shows what a canny, relentless, thoroughly ambitious fellow Layton was. Even on Saturday, two days before he died, he managed to keep a gimlet eye on all the campaigns to come.

That’s harsh. It continues:

The letter is full of such sophistry as, “We can restore our good name in the world” – as though it is a given Canada has somehow lost that – bumper-sticker slogans of the “love is better than anger” ilk and ruthlessly partisan politicking (“You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together with progressive-minded Canadians across the country,” he said in the section meant for Quebecers).


The letter is vainglorious too. Who thinks to leave a 1,000-word missive meant for public consumption and released by his family and the party mid-day, happily just as Solomon and his fellows were in danger of running out of pap? Who seriously writes of himself, “All my life I have worked to make things better?”

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

There are sentences and paragraphs in this mean-spirited article that aren’t bad. And there’s nothing wrong with writing about the political craft that is obviously inherent to Layton’s last letter — actually, I’m one of Layton’s mourners and I want to read that column.

But Blatchford’s piece is mean-spirited and worse, clueless. People aren’t making a “mawkish” show of grief. They’re genuinely mourning Layton for rational reasons: he really seemed to be focused on building a better Canada, he had good ideas, he talked about daycare and the environment when other parties spend billions on warplanes and jails and double-down on tarsands development. His politics seemed to be in service of a better country, not his ego.

Blatchford just sees artifice, calculation and aggrandization (“vainglorious”? Really?) in the “public spectacle” of Layton’s death. Her condescending column urinates on the grief of people who are quite reasonably upset over this tragedy.

(The sideways kicks at the CBC are real cute, too.)

I remember years ago when she threw her unionized Hollinger colleagues under the bus during a nasty strike at the Calgary Herald (The union was ultimately crushed). In a self-serving National Post column called “”Newsroom Is No Place for Forced Respect,” Blatchford trashed unions and said they were antithetical to journalism. I made a point of avoiding Blatchford’s writing after that blatant example of a self-interested writer climbing over her peers to suck up to management.

I’m happy with that call and I look forward to not reading her columns in the future. Christie Blatchford seems like someone who’s just not a very nice person.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

7 thoughts on “Christie Blatchford Is Mean”

  1. Thank you for this. I was shocked when I first saw Christie Blatchford’s National Post blog yesterday, mere hours after Mr. Layton’s death, and then horrified this morning when the Vancouver Sun arrived on my doorstep and discovered it had published her mean-spirited thoughts as well. While I defend Ms Blatchford’s journalistic freedom to express her opinion, her column reveals her to be insensitive, vindictive and petty. The message of Mr. Layton’s final letter is wasted on the likes of her.

  2. If it was Lizard With a Wig that wrote a similar letter to Canadians (with less eloquence and more manipulation, no doubt), would she have been as petty? Of course not.

    She should go back to covering sports. She showed some competence then.

    Jack, you were a good man. May your legacy of hope and caring last for years to come.

  3. So I guess she won’t be going to the state funeral?

    I loved that letter. Politics is show business, and professionals know that the show must go on. Jack was a professional.

    Also – So, after many years of working on it, you finally get elected as official opposition leader then learn that you’re dying before being able to do the thing you’ve just been elected to do? A letter of farewell – and intent – is totally appropriate.

  4. It’s sad to see such mean spirited article in the event of the death of a human being. Granted, Jack Layton WAS a politician to the very end….. and is there a problem with that? He was a motivated, intellectual person who lived and breathed what he believed in. I don’t see how that should raise such a commotion on the part of Christie Blatchford. If you knew you were dying, wouldn’t you want to see that the things you worked so hard to achieve were kept on course?
    She eludes that Jack Layton needed that camera in his face, that he was on a constant search for attention, and that it was evident in his letter. For Heaven’s sakes, WHO is seeking attention? Let’s think about that, Christie. I guess negative attention is better than none.
    As for showing absolutely no compassion for a man who, twice, faced one of the most hideous diseases known, it makes me wonder if SHE has ever come face to face with such a soul wrenching event in her own life… her lack of compassion is downright scary.
    And shame on her for mocking the people who have been showing their sympathy. SHAME ON HER! But I guess that’s the way you keep your job, eh Christie? The backlash that you’ve received is keeping YOUR paycheck coming in.

  5. I found that column shocking too, to say the least.

    Like other commenters, I have no problem with a discussion of the political nature of the letter, the fact Layton was the consummate politician to the end, etc. That’s simply the reality of the situation.

    What I couldn’t stomach was just how damned mean-spirited the whole thing was. It highlights something I’ve always known intuitively about the CPC, its supporters and the New Right in this country — it’s not enough to civilly disagree with someone and tell them so. Instead there appears to be this scorched-earth, this must not stand attitude that quickly devolves into name-calling.

    Probably the best example of this is, of course, another Layton example. Jack proposed a negotiated settlement to the Afghanistan conflict. That’s fine, and there’s plenty of meat there to discuss whether or not it was the right plan. I personally think yes. So too does Canada’s chief of defense staff, it came out a year or two later. But what was the CPC response?

    “Taliban Jack.”

    But the important thing to note isn’t whether Layton was right or wrong. It’s that he was doing his job as an opposition MP and the Government of Canada fell all over itself to smear him.

    My 70-some-year-old father has been a long-time CPC supporter. They recently called asking for more money (since the election, that is). Loved his response:

    “I already gave you some. Now I’m waiting to see what you do with it. And tell the Prime Minister I expect him to be just a bit more statesman-like.”

    Sadly, I doubt that will be the case.

  6. Yes that was a “fantastically dickish” article by Blachford, wasn’t it? Glad to see you agree it’s mean to use someone’s death to score cheap political points

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