Rex Murphy and Big Oil: friends with benefits?

Friends With Benefits

Rex Murphy has long admired Canada's oil and gas industry from afar, it seemed.

Like the protagonist in William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, Murphy has delivered many romantic soliloquies to the tar sands from his weekly soapbox on The National, the flagship news show of Canada's public broadcaster.

And he's penned many eloquent, passion-stirring opinion pieces denying climate change in the newspapers. Many. Many, many, many

But has it really been from afar? Have Murphy and Big Oil  to borrow a term from the parlance of millenials  been hooking up, unbeknownst to his viewers and readers?

More than just friends?

If you Google the heck out of Murphy's name, you'll discover that he's Newfoundland's most eligible keynote speaker at oil, gas and mining industry events all across the country. Since 2009, Murphy has been spotted or booked at the podium as a keynote speaker not once, not twice, but at least 25 times.

The latest came on Tuesday, when the Economic Club of Canada presented Murphy at a Toronto luncheon to talk about "Canada, Natural Resources and Our Future."

The event is sponsored by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Mining Association of Canada, the Forest Products Association of Canada and the Railway Association of Canada.

Big Oil knows what they're getting with Murphy because the National Speakers Bureau, which negotiates Murphy's speaking fees, includes a snippet of his friendly views with an embedded YouTube video in his profile. It's called "Rex Murphy of CBC's Point of View Rips into Environmentalists."

It's impossible to know how much Murphy has collected in fees at these speaking engagements, but fees for high-profile speakers can range in the many thousands of dollars (plus expenses) a pop.

According to post-event reports, Rex usually pleases the audience with a mix of flattering comments about the oil and gas industry and polysyllabic denouncements of envious, green-eyed environmentalists who blame them for their success.

What we do know is organizers and sponsors of these events include major corporations and industry groups with investments in oil and gas projects across Canada.

They include: Enbridge; TransCanada; SunCor; the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers; Halliburton; First Energy Capital; Pipeline Contractors Association of Canada; the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum; Canadian Natural Resources Corp.; Esso; Imperial Oil, ConocoPhillips, BP; and Chevron.

Here's some juicy details about Murphy's speaking engagements

Now compare and contrast Murphy's most recent rant on The National with a recent speech to oil executives in Calgary:

Photo: YouTube