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Canada has lost its voice of reason. At 68-years-old, National Post writer and national treasure Christie Blatchford was taken from us too soon.
Blatchford was born in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. She began her illustrious, near 50-year career at the Globe and Mail in 1973, then joined the Toronto Star in 1977, the Toronto Sun in 1982, and finally the National Post in 1998 where she would spend her last 22 years in journalism.
She was praised by colleagues and was inducted in the Canadian news hall of fame in November 2019, the same month in which she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She won Dunlop Awards, the Governor-General’s Literary Award in non-fiction for her book Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army. She was the recipient of the George Jonas Freedom award, and her Life Sentence, on losing faith in the criminal justice system, was a finalist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.
As a journalist, Blatchford was committed to truth and honesty, and her driving principles were her own. She was dedicated to her work, and didn’t shy away from hard stories, or refuse to let herself be emotionally affected by some of the horrible things she reported on. In a lot of ways she was Canada’s conscience. Whether it was UBC’s railroading of Steven Galloway or the Ghomeshi trial or the implementation of bill C-16, Blatchford was always willing to stand up to the mob and advocate for due process, basic fairness, and common sense.
Her former publisher at National Post, Anne Marie Owens, said, “‘She had the most consistent moral compass of anyone I’ve ever encountered. Look at her entire body of work and you’ll see a through-line that ran through everything she was committed to and that she cared deeply about.”
Journalist and Post Millennial contributor Barbara Kay writes about being nervous before meeting Christie Blatchford, “as is always the way when you meet your heroes.”
“Although I was never in Christie’s league,” Kay writes for the National Post, “we shared some common niche topics. One was our mutual irritation at the marginalization of men in society, the dismissal of their particular sufferings, and the systemic acceptance of misandry in our culture, notably in the court system, which was her briar patch. But where I have always worked from the outside in — researching, interviewing, following reported news — then producing evidence-based arguments, Christie worked from the inside out.”
Rex Murphy said “she was the bravest person out there.” And went on to write “If she saw something needed to be said, she said it powerfully, without cover or squeamish qualification. She was the empress of straight talk. And if that otherwise ridiculously over-invoked phrase, “speaking truth to power,” has any serious application in First World journalism, then Christie Blatchford is one of the select few who can lay serious claim to its meaning.”
Blatchford will be missed by her colleagues in journalism, but her larger legacy is as a writer who told the truth to Canadians, whether they wanted to hear it or not. With the journalistic climate as partitioned as it currently is, with sides so often refusing to engage in forthright debate, or consider opposing views, who will step up to speak truth to power on either side of the divide?
She offered a defence to so many who the public deemed undefendable. And those who had no one in their corner knew that Blatchford would dig until she found the facts.
When our nation would get carried away by a headline she would dive deep into the facts and reveal sometimes unpopular and inconvenient truths. In an era where fabulists and virtue signallers reap the most rewards, Christie Blatchford never wavered. She held fast to a simple yet powerful principle—she told the truth.