The Sidney appearance of national commentator Rex Murphy drew protests from local environmentalists, but also support.
Five members of Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island interrupted Rex Murphy at the start of his speech at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney. The quintet accused Murphy of being a mouthpiece for what they called “big oil and gas.”
By way of background, Extinction Rebellion is a British-based environmental movement, whose aims include stopping what scientists call the sixth mass extinction in planetary history, as caused by humans. The group and its various local chapters has a history of staging events that aim to draw publicity to its cause.
Murphy, a journalist who gained national prominence as a long-time radio host and commentator for the CBC, has in the past received payments from the Canadian energy sector and continues to question the science behind human-made climate change and efforts to fight it.
This video courtesy of Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island shows their protest against commentator Rex Murphy who spoke Saturday in Sidney. pic.twitter.com/AehVcIvpFD
— Peninsula News (@PeninsulaNews) November 24, 2019
Tsastiqualus Ambers Umbas, who describes herself as Matriarch of the Ma’amtagila Nation, said the group protested Murphy because Murphy “is spreading lies” around a number of issues, a point echoed by Howard Breen. “Rex Murphy routinely makes a repulsive mockery of both the science of the climate crisis and children’s survival.”
The group has specifically opposed plans to ship Alberta oil to foreign markets through British Columbia.
“BC takes all the risks for pipelines and fish farms. Alberta is land locked. They need us more then we need them.”
A video shared by the group shows Murphy appeared in the centre’s Bodine Family Hall. Estimates from Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island place the audience at 600 people, a figure that the Peninsula News Review could not independently confirm.
Rude protesters trying to stop #RexMurphy from speaking last night in Sidney, BC, before being expelled, thus missing his wisdom & wit, but demonstrating exactly why #freespeech is essential. pic.twitter.com/lcCzJ0mVDe
— Keltie Zubko (@KeltieZubko) November 24, 2019
The video also shows that many of them booed when the group started its protest, which ended quickly when security personnel escorted the group out of the facility.
Umbas acknowledged support for Murphy and his message.
“There are people, who believe what he saying,” she said. “They are people, who think it is okay to build a pipeline. That has to end. You take a look at that crowd there and we are talking about pretty old people set in their ways. The reaction was very strong and very swift. You can see the anger in peoples’ eyes as we are being removed.”
Umbas said she was not sure when asked whether the protest changed any minds.
“I hope at least one person thought ‘what is this about’,” she said. “If we do an action like this, at least, it gives people food for thought.”
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