Petition aims to have Rex Murphy uninvited from Yukon Geoscience Forum

A concerned Yukoner has started a petition to have Rex Murphy uninvited from the Yukon Geoscience Forum.

Rachel Grantham does not want Murphy giving a keynote address on Nov.17, in light of a recent column he wrote. 

The column, published in the Oct. 19 edition of the National Post, argues Brett Kavanaugh's U.S. Supreme Court nomination demonstrates how politicized the U.S. Supreme Court is. He also talks about the assumed credibility of Christine Blasey Ford's testimony and suggests there should be an equally scrupulous follow-up into her allegations.

The article reads, "It was distressing from the very first to see how automatically Blasey Ford was acknowledged, it seemed almost universally, as credible.

"I simply didn't understand that, and never for a moment subscribed to the ludicrous and banal slogan of "Believe the Victim" — a classic example of the lexicon's most misunderstood phrase, begging the question," writes Murphy.

Murphy goes on to write it was "convenient" Blasey Ford's memory of the incident returned in time for Kavanaugh's nomination.

'It's all women'

"By extension, it's all women. It's not just [Blasey Ford]," said Grantham, about the article.

Grantham's petition is online at Change.org and addressed to the Yukon Chamber of Mines, the host of the Geoscience Forum. The petition was posted on Nov. 5 and has collected 60 signatures as of Tuesday morning. Grantham's goal is 100 signatures. 

Grantham does not work in the mining industry. She feels the article represents views that are "anti-women" and regressive in the pursuit to support victims of sexual assault.

"A keynote speaker is somebody that we all respect and admire and I'm just saying find somebody else," said Grantham.

#MeTooMining backs Yukon Chamber

Susan Lomas, the president of #MeTooMining, an organization that advocates for women in the mining industry, said Murphy isn't the "best speaker" the chamber could have chosen, and that she was disturbed by the comments in his column.

That said, Lomas believes the chamber organizers have the right to invite any speaker they want.

In a statement, the board of #MeTooMining says there is an opportunity to "effect change" by starting a conversation about Murphy's invitation to speak, but there's also room to acknowledge Murphy's right to express his opinion.

The board's statement also refers to a report by Kimberly Lonsway published in 2009, that says two to eight per cent of the American public "dramatically overestimates the percentage of sexual assault reports that are false."

HO-CBC-Dustin Rabin/The Canadian Press

Samson Hartland, the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, declined CBC's request for an interview but sent a statement.

"Rex Murphy has been a prominent voice in Canadian media for over 20 years, speaking to a wide range of issues, while championing Canada's economy and resource sector along the way," he said.

"I understand that these opinions may not resonate with all Canadians, however, we at the Yukon Chamber of Mines are looking forward to hearing his perspective on what the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) means for Canada, its effect on our industry, and subsequently our economy."

The chamber organizes the GeoScience Forum in partnership with the Yukon government.

Paul Tukker/CBC

The Departments of Economic Development and Energy, Mines and Resources has provided $75,000 in funding to the forum for 2018/19, according to minister Ranj Pillai.

Pillai was not available for an interview but sent CBC an emailed statement.

In the statement, Pillai said he appreciates the concerns brought forward by Grantham, and that the government supports the mining sector by providing funding to host the forum.

"The Yukon Chamber of Mines is responsible for co-ordinating the Geoscience Forum, including the guest speakers," said Pillai.

CBC tried to reach Rex Murphy and Yukon Women in Mining for an interview, but did not hear back by deadline.

The annual forum runs Nov. 17 to 20.