Blatchford returns to UW

On Nov. 12, a small group of protesters took over the stage at the University of Waterloo (UW) in opposition to Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford’s new book Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us, which examines the Caledonia crisis and critiques the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for the breakdown of rule of law.

The demonstration against her speech caused the cancellation of the event and a subsequent apology from the University of Waterloo.

On Dec. 7, Blatchford took the stage in a rescheduled event at the UW Theatre of the Arts to discuss her book. Many of the questions that she answered from the audience were from those that critiqued her book for not taking into account the historical significance of Six Nations’ land claims in Caledonia.

Blatchford expressed her contentment at being able to speak nearly a month after the original event was canceled.

“It was wonderful and I think the university was much better prepared and it was a much better test of their freedom of expression than the first instance. Frankly no one was really well prepared,” said Blatchford.

UW dean of arts Ken Coates, who estimated that there were between 300 and 350 people in attendance at the event, expressed his satisfaction with Blatchford’s speech and the dialogue that was created by the audience.

“There were people who were uncertain and wanted information, there were people who were angry and there were people who were supportive,” said Coates, “This was what was supposed to happen.”

There was a strong Waterloo Regional Police Service presence at the event, with two officers taking up positions on the stage and a great number standing at the exits to the hall and entrance of the Modern Languages building. Despite a small disturbance outside the building, the event itself was left undisturbed.

“In this particular instance we wanted to make sure that if someone showed up wanting to do the same thing I think with the support of everyone here we would have escorted them from the building,” explained Coates.

Blatchford was lighthearted during her speech regarding the events that transpired on Nov. 12 and praised the university for the heightened security at the rescheduled event.

“That seems to be the way things go you’re either under prepared and there’s not a cop to be seen or there’s 3,000 of them and nothing happens so that’s just my experience as a reporter and it wasn’t much different [here],” she said.

Click here to view photos from the event.