Rex Murphy is known throughout Canada for his blunt opinions and eloquent proclamations as a member of the media. This week Salam Toronto had the opportunity for a brief interview with him, discussing Canadian politics, immigration and the role of the ethnic media in Canada.
Born in Carbonear, Newfoundland and a Rhodes scholar at Oxford by the age of 21, Murphy has led an interesting life. He was a student activist who stood up to government authority at St. John’s Memorial University in the late 1960’s, singularly playing a large part in tuition reduction. He has run for provincial office elections three times in Newfoundland, once as a Progressive Conservative and twice as as Libeal. He lost all three times.
Today of course Murphy is a popular political commentator on the CBC National news show as well as a columnist for the National Post (he was previously with the Globe & Mail).
So where does he fit politically?
“I would consider myself a centrist,” he states. “On certain issues I would be classified as a leftist, on others I would be more a conservative. But I truthfully don’t align myself with parties; I do become gravitated – or repelled – by leaders though.”
Recently Murphy became involved in a controversial topic when he hosted “Climate Change 101” at the University of Calgary, arguing against the Green Shift movement and anthropogenic climate change. The controversy was not lost on Murphy.
“I do realize the implications of me becoming involved with something like this, as a so-called ‘neutral’ political commentator,” he admits. “It was somewhat of a risk for me, but at this stage of my career I believe sometimes it is ok to be an individual who has his own biases and opinions, and to express them openly.”
As the subject turned to immigration, Murphy was certainly open.
“I still don’t get the logic behind those who proclaim immigrants are here to take their jobs away or how they’re ruining the identity of Canada,” he says. “The numbers speak for themselves; Canada needs skilled immigrants to sustain our job force and our economy. And identity? Canada is built on multiculturalism and immigration, going all the way back to the settlement era.”
“To be clear I’m not saying this to pander to the crowd; but immigration is the backbone of this country,” he adds. “Sure our system is not perfect, but if you look around at other industrialized countries and how they handle immigration compared to Canada, and we have it pretty good. You don’t see the overt tension or problems here that exist on the same level as they do in Europe or even in the States.”
With that, what does Murphy think about the role of ethnic journalism in Canada?
“It plays a crucial factor in helping mainstream media in general,” Murphy says. “At the CBC we rely heavily on ethnic media outlets as well as employing journalists ourselves who come from minority communities. Like I’ve said, immigration is part of the Canadian identity, so it is vital we incorporate that into our presentation.”
“Publications such as yours are also very important in helping in the transition process for newcomers, and easing them into the Canadian culture while maintaining their cultural values from home. Call me an optimist, but I believe the combination of the mainstream media relying and learning from the ethnic media as well as the ethnic media providing its own outlet works beautifully in Canada.”