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.

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“It [was] not a speech – it [was] a hyperbolic pep rally.” 

“Any objective person who listens to that [Nov.29] address will be taken aback by the almost vitriolic support that he offers to the oil sands,” said Mitrovica.

The long-time investigative journalist, who has previously worked at CBC, CTV and the Globe and Mail, has openly challenged Rex Murphy and the public broadcaster to reveal what oil sands speaking fees have been received.

CBC News responds

CBC News’ General Manager and Editor in Chief told the Vancouver Observer Monday that new rules about forcing “freelance” commentators, like Murphy, to reveal their speaking fees are being discussed.

“While in principle we support transparency, we are trying to understand the complications of demanding this obligation of our freelancers.  We will have more to say about this soon,” said Jennifer McGuire in an e-mail.

She added, "...we feel the there was no issue of balance in our overall coverage of the oil sands issue."

"On [the Jan.17 show about Neil Young], Rex was a counterpoint to a position presented by Neil Young."

McGuire also blogged a week ago that other prominent freelancer CBC personalities, such as David Suzuki and Bob McDonald, also accept speaking fees.

She also wrote that "taking a provocative stand is what we pay [Rex Murphy] to do."

Alberta tar sands pollution - Kris Krug

Fort McMurray, Alberta - photo by Kris Krug

PressProgress has documented several Rex Murphy speeches to the oil industry, including for the BC Oil & Gas Conference, Inuvik Petroleum Show, and the Canadian Oilmen’s Conference.

Murphy, who is also vocal critic of climate change science and Al Gore, writes a regular column for The National Post.  That publication does not appear to disclose Murphy’s speaking engagements either.  A request to the national news editors for comment was not responded to.

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