National Post reporter Christie Blatchford poses in Toronto on August 31, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/National Post - Peter J. Thompson

Longtime newspaper columnist Christie Blatchford dead at 68

Blatchford had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer in Toronto

Longtime newspaper columnist, author and firebrand Christie Blatchford, a hardnosed scribe known for deep-sourced scoops and biting opinion pieces, has died.

She was 68.

Blatchford had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto.

The cancer had metastasized to bones in the spine and hip by the time it was detected late last year, according to a profile her newspaper the National Post published in November.

“We’ll miss her always,” her brother, Les Blatchford, said Wednesday morning. “She was a great gal.”

Known as a tenacious reporter and unflinching social critic, Blatchford leaves behind a large body of work that was often bracingly frank, charged with emotion, and cut with humour.

A five-decade career cemented Blatchford as one of the country’s most enduring voices on the courts and crime beat, and her willingness to critique controversial social issues earned her a reputation for uncompromising, and often polarizing, viewpoints, most recently on the #MeToo movement.

For the candid and notoriously ribald “Blatch,” this was all in service of her mission to speak truth to power.

Criminal defence lawyer Marie Henein spoke of this as she presented Blatchford with the George Jonas Freedom Award at a gala in Toronto last June, describing an unapologetic, tough-as-nails writer whose pieces captured the “humanity” of a courtroom.

“None of it is sugar-coated and why should it be? In these times more than ever don’t we need a good dose of unvarnished truth? Don’t we need a good dose of Christie?” said Henein, who rose to national prominence as Jian Ghomeshi’s defence lawyer, a trial that Blatchford covered extensively.

“While lawyers and judges may rail against what she writes sometimes — may get infuriated even — here’s our dirty little secret, I’m going to share it with you: They all get nervous when she walks into court. We know she is there and everyone — every single one of them, every judge and every lawyer — reads her first. And they do it for one reason: Her opinion matters, her perspective matters.”

Blatchford’s recent reports for the Post and Postmedia chain of newspapers ranged from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s blackface and SNC-Lavalin scandals to the death of her beloved white bull terrier, Obie, in September.

In one of her final columns in October, she wrote about nagging muscle pain that forced her to leave the Liberals’ federal election tour only six days in — a mysterious ache that kept her from logging her daily 10-to-15-kilometre runs and instead led to a devastating diagnosis.

Former Postmedia president and CEO Paul Godfrey, who now serves as the company’s executive chairman, admits his “immediate goal was to get Christie back” when he took over Postmedia in 2010.

“She was a jewel to have in your stable of journalists because she could write about anything. If you asked her to cover politics, sports, crime, anything like that, ask her to become a columnist and do a feature story on someone, she got to the bottom of it. Nothing fazed her,” Godfrey says of Blatchford, also a mainstay on local radio through regular appearances on Toronto’s NewsTalk1010.

Blatchford was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame last November but was too unwell to attend.

READ MORE: Neil Peart, Rush drummer, dies at 67

She was also the author of several non-fiction books, including “Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army,” based on her experiences during four trips to Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007. It won the 2008 Governor-General’s Literary Award in non-fiction.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Columnistjournalism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Revelstoke has launched a community well-being survey. (Contributed)
City launches community well-being survey

Everyone residing in Revelstoke aged 12 and over is invited to complete it

BC Liberal incumbent Doug Clovechok is seeking re-election as MLA for the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding in the provincial election. (File photo)
BC VOTES: Get to know BC Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok

Clovechok talks highways, housing, childcare and the environment

NDP candidate Nicole Cherlet on the campaign trail in Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap- Revelstoke Review)
BC VOTES: Q&A with BC NDP candidate Nicole Cherlet

Cherlet talks highways, housing, childcare and the environment

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Columbia River-Revelstoke Green Party candidate Samson Boyer. (Contributed)
BC VOTES: Q&A with BC Green Party candidate Samson Boyer

Boyer talks highways, housing, childcare and the environment

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

Vernon Fire Rescue Services and Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were called to a report of an electrical fire at the emergency response centre operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, just before 5:30 p.m. The fire displaced shelter residents who have been set up with services at the Vernon Recreation Complex. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Vernon shelter residents find refuge in hotels, motels, recreation complex after fire

Electrical fire at Turning Points Collaborative Society’s emergency response centre on 37th Street

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna man charged after allegedly stealing senior’s car

Elderly woman’s car was stolen while she was shopping

Salmon Arm RCMP say residents have been receiving calls from fraudster claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP warn of Publishers Clearing House telephone scam

Police say scammer requests fee to claim sweepstakes prizes

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Osoyoos Fire Department responded to reports of a vehicle engulfed in flames Sunday (Oct. 18) evening at a Lambert Court residence. (Osoyoos Fire Department)
Osoyoos Fire Department knock down car fire near home

Blaze was ‘really close’ to becoming a structure fire

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels more Okanagan concerts

The Contenders and Colin James postponed until 2021

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Most Read