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.