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