This Article is part of the Tar Sands Reporting Project special report See the full report

Rex Murphy's pro-oil sands speech prompts CBC to review journalistic rules

Famous Newfoundlander under pressure to reveal if he receives oil sands speaking fees, and to reveal this each time he goes on CBC airwaves with his staunch defences of Alberta's oil patch.

CBC's Rex Murphy does not reveal his oil sands speaking fees
Rex Murphy gave a stinging critique of oil sands opponent Neil Young on Jan.17 (CBC News)

On Jan.17, on his weekly spot on CBC’s The National, Rex Murphy slammed Neil Young for what he called the rockstar’s “unfathomably irresponsible” comments against Alberta’s oil sands.

But what the famous Newfoundlander did not reveal on his “Point of View” TV segment was whether Murphy also receives payments for his work outside the CBC, giving pro-oil sands speeches. 

iPolitics columnist Andrew Mitrovica calls that a serious conflict of interest.

“His audiences have a right to know where he’s coming from, and that he’s being paid by powerful vested interests…” said Mitrovica on Monday from Toronto.

Rex Murphy did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

At issue, are a number of keynote speeches that he has made to oil-friendly conventions -- Murphy does not appear to disclose this when he talks on public air waves in defence of the oil sands.

In Mitrovica's research, such speeches from similar high profile personalities can earn anywhere from $2,000 - $30,000 per occasion.

Most notably, Murphy gave a stirring speech on Nov.29 to a black-tie Calgary business forum, attended by a who’s who of Canada’s oil sands: the CEOs of Kinder Morgan, Enbridge, and TransCanada for example.

After joking about Neil Young’s inadequacy at commenting on oil sands issues – “I wouldn’t take advice from Neil Young if he was talking about the Bare Naked Ladies” – Murphy said industry should stop being ashamed of the oil sands.

He said, “You are renewing confederation" – a reference, to the thousands of Newfoundlanders put out of work by the closure of the fisheries, and put back to work in Alberta's oil patch.

“Do you know how much social misery, how much dislocation of individual families, how many divorces were [all] postponed?”

“You should exult in what you’re doing.  This is a triumph of the spirit, not something anyone should have to apologize for,” Murphy extolled.

 

Andrew Mitrovica, iPolitics columnist, says Rex Murphy in conflict of interest

iPolitics columnist Andrew Mitrovica

Mitrovica says such "cheerleading" for the industry is "a little more than embarrassing.”

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