Vancouver Zeitgeist
Reflections on Vancouver, British Columbia and other topics, related or not


Remember Canada?
Rex Murphy did

He died last week
but outlived his country by many years

Greg Klein | May 11, 2024

Rex Murphy in Vancouver January 2019

Pretty good by any perspective, Rex Murphy was
a great commentator by Canadian MSM standards.
(Photos: Greg Klein)


In tribute to his passing, a previous mining publication feature about a Rex Murphy speech in Vancouver is posted below. For the sake of accuracy, however, some caveats are required.

Murphy’s reference to “a room full of achievers” was wrong. The audience had a preponderance of stock hustlers.

In asking listeners, “Do you know what it’s like not to have work?” he applied a scolding tone to an insulting rhetorical question. There must have been many of us who knew very well, probably much better than he did.

As implied in the story below, Murphy didn’t seem to fully understand the transformation of Canadian society when he suggested people need work for personal fulfillment. If that was once true, it’s much less so now. Furthermore, and an obvious point not mentioned below, the experience of shit jobs offers anything but fulfillment.

One of his last National Post columns tarnished his legacy by taking a side in the world’s currently most publicized foreign war. His partisanship was typical for the National Post. Far worse, and apart from his deathbed bathos, he showed dreadful lack of proportion in his key statement: “Hatred of Israel is the great moral disorder of our time.” Certainly we inhabit an era of competing moral disorders, but the worst must be officially encouraged sex change procedures for children.

Clearly Murphy reflected MSM limitations. His weakness as well as his strength showed in probably his most controversial piece, written in the aftermath of the Minneapolis Martyrdom: “Canada is not a racist country, despite what the Liberals say.”

To some extent Murphy stood up to the Canadian copy-cat hysteria and denounced Antifa/BLM bloodshed and destruction. But he agreed with Trudeau’s expression of “shock and horror” about what supposedly provoked the anguish. Even then, in May and June 2020, there were early indications that the American criminal’s death was accidental and that American lawfare was persecuting Minneapolis cops to appease a nation-wide lynch mentality that might well have been manipulated.

(The column can be read here, preceded by a later-added pusillanimous apology from senior NP suckholes.)

Nevertheless Murphy was one of Canada’s last pre-Karen commentators, an MSM throwback that will become extinct as the rest of Toronto Postmedia’s mostly septuagenarian male examples retire or die off. Vancouver Postmedia has one such survivor, and a few other B.C. MSMers might defy current dictates with very occasional remarks too subtle for newsgirl detection.

As they go, they’re not being replaced. The mainstream’s highly conventional, barely literate, overly emotional girl milieu, to which male journalists conform, has no room for dissent, not even to the limited degree of NP commentary.

But on a maybe more Murphyesque note, the speech outlined below would likely have drawn a standing ovation, had he not forsaken drama for an anti-climactic anecdote:

As Queen Elizabeth and her entourage toured a biscuit factory in Newfoundland, she spontaneously approached a man who was stirring a vat full of ingredients. “And you?” the Queen asked. “What are you making?”

With great pride he answered, “Fourteen dollars an hour.”


Rex Murphy sees human casualties
in the war on Canada’s resource industries

Greg Klein | January 24, 2019


Rex Murphy sees human casualties in the war on Canada’s resource industries

Murphy drew an overflow crowd to his Vancouver Convention Centre speech.


There’s something inspiring about a Newfoundlander—a Newfoundlander born in Newfoundland before it even joined Canada—coming to the West Coast largely to defend Alberta’s oil and gas sector. Actually Rex Murphy’s message applies to Canada’s resource industries overall, focusing on the people who work in them, their families and others who helped build the country. He sees the chasm between those who find fulfillment in employment and those who would shut down the industries that provide it. Rex Murphy in Vancouver January 2019

A National Post columnist who’s somehow tolerated by the CBC, Murphy proved a huge hit with an overflow crowd at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2019. “As a journalist, I’m in a room full of achievers,” he quipped. “This is a very awkward spot.” But unlike most journalists, he neither ignores nor celebrates an enormous shift in Canadian society.

He remembers miners from Baie Verte and Buchans who frequented his mother’s restaurant in the 1950s, “the gentlest of men” despite their gruelling work. But important as mining was, Newfoundland’s main source of survival was fishing. That changed dramatically in 1992.

That’s when 31,000 people, “at the stroke of a pen on a single day, were completely removed from the Newfoundland inshore fishery. Something that had gone on for 450 years, that defined the culture, the humour, the idiom, the songs, the pattern of settlement, the whole idea of Newfoundland, was wrapped up in that fishery…. For the first time in 500 years no one could jig a codfish and have it for supper. But also it was 31,000 people abruptly unemployed.”

Proportionately that would have been 660,000 people in Ontario, he added. One man he knew, desperately hoping for a job in Hamilton, sold his house for seven plane tickets. “That’s how rough it was.” Rex Murphy in Vancouver January 2019

But as one regional resource economy collapsed, another boomed. Alberta’s oilpatch needed workers. Murphy calls it “one of the great rescue operations of Canadian Confederation, which most people still haven’t even heard about…. It was one of the great moments, unsung, of Confederation at work, where one region of the country, very willingly, allowed a strange bunch with certainly a stranger language to wander into their province … one of the great songs that we should be singing, that the enterprise of Alberta and a primary industry rescued one of the great social and cultural blows of another part of the Confederation. Did you ever hear about it?”

We more likely heard vilification, often coming from activists, celebrities, media and increasingly Ottawa, he maintained. “You heard every criticism you could hear about poor Fort McMurray. Even after the fire they went after it…. You had the oil price decline, you had the burning of Fort McMurray, you had a flood in Fort McMurray, you had the departure of capital from Fort McMurray, you had the layoff of engineers in Fort McMurray, and what did they decide was the cure? Let’s bring in a carbon tax.

“I mean, the poor creature’s already laid out on the morgue table and they want to take another few shots at the head.”

Resource extraction was vital to the generations who built this country, Murphy emphasized. “It is only in a country as prosperous as our own that we get to the point where we denigrate and derogate the essential industries that brought us precisely to where we are.” Rex Murphy in Vancouver January 2019

Prosperity, or at least just simply work, can provide intangible benefits too, he pointed out.

“Do you know what it’s like not to have work? There’s no psychological stress greater except loss of a loved one or breakup of a family…. It’s not just the work, it’s not just the paycheque, it is the fulfillment of the human personality.”

Although often incredulous, Murphy’s cri de coeur falls short of actual despair, especially when laced with homespun humour. Nevertheless a despairing thought might occur to listeners who wonder whether the intangible value of an earned paycheque matters much in a culture of entitlement, or among those who find remuneration in activism. As for work’s fulfillment of the human personality, maybe another type of personality has gained prominence, one that finds fulfillment in espousing fashionable convictions and obstructing useful projects.

What remains to be seen is whether the people he speaks for are declining, in numbers as well as influence. Maybe previous generations could have offset such a fate by producing a few more Rex Murphys.

How’s my blogging?