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Rex Murphy Takes on YMM

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REX MURPHY IS A VERY FUNNY MAN. Behind the mask of erudite political commentary he is an observer who delights in exposing the ridiculous and the idiotic. Speaking at the Leading the North conference held in May here in YMM he poked and prodded at many of the sacred cows and bullshit out at the environmental anarchists and told Fort McMurrayites to stand tall, be proud and stop apologizing.

Murphy has a love/hate relationship with his employer, the CBC, and their left-leaning platitudes. They acknowledge this on their website, describing his perspective on matters political as unique and controversial, Newspeak for “We don’t like what he says but he’s too damn popular to fire.” Like his comment on their idolatry of environmentalists: “They send me down to the foyer every evening to water the ferns and spark the incense in front of the statue of Bishop Suzuki.”

As articulate as he ever is, he also took the oil companies to task, telling them to have the gumption to defend their industry instead of lying down and getting trampled. He spoke of a tour of one of the oil sands facilities where they showed him a recovered tailings pond and a lovely forest created on what was once a mine. Eventually he tired of the nature of the tour and said, “Well that’s all very well, but when are you going to show me some oil?”

He also spoke of his hotel room, with signs everywhere showing how the world was being saved by this water saving device, and that power saver, and this other planet friendly brochure. It was, he said, apologetic environmentalism gone mad.

It wasn’t all local stories though. He aimed barbs at Toronto mayors past and present, recalling Mel Lastman on the Larry King Show as a meeting of two half-minds, and lamenting the Rob Ford saga by saying “God has finally abandoned Toronto.” Neil Young was also the butt of Murphy’s ire. “He used to have a heart of gold,” he said, “but now we all know where his tailings are.”

He saved his best for inside the press room afterwards. He doesn’t rant, as he kept reminding us with tongue firmly in cheek, and I agree, but he does passionate discourse better than most. He is also too articulate and verbally limber to sound coarse, so I will show some circumspection so as not leave his last quote in the original Anglo-Saxon.

He directed his comment to the wildfowl furore of some years back, when so many ducks died in YMM that the Ontario wind turbine farms looked on and said, “Damn, that’s close to our numbers.” He returned to his theme that an industry such as oil, so technologically advanced and self-regulated, owes no one an apology. “You know what you should have said about every single drowned duck?” he asked.

I won’t say, but it does rhyme.

Photo, left to right. At the ‘Leading the North’ conference; Carol Christian, Kevin Thornton, Rex Murphy, Lynley Kotyk and Paula Ogonoski.


Kevin has been writing for YMM since the first issue. Many of his articles have been pseudonymous, hidden behind the tags Keyano writer or YMM staff. Kevin has been a columnist for many years, working for some of the leading newspapers of the world, including the New York Times and the Devon Dispatch.