There's always been something fishy about Glen Murray's abrupt and unexplained departure from his "dream job" in Alberta.
Murray left the prestige, salary, and power of a cabinet minister in the Ontario government to head a think tank in Calgary. He raved rhapsodic at the opportunity to lead the fight against climate change in his new post.
From an interview with Steve Paikin of TVO, TVOntario, a publicly funded English-language educational television network, just after taking over as executive director of the Pembina Institute https://www.tvo.org/
WHEN I TURN 60, WHICH WILL BE IN
A COUPLE OF WEEKS, THAT WAS THE
THIRD PHASE OF MY LIFE, SORT OF
THE ELDER PHASE.
BY THAT POINT I WOULD KNOW
MYSELF BETTER, I DON'T HAVE TO
PROVE MYSELF ANYMORE, AND I WAS
GOING TO DEDICATE ALL OF MY
ENERGY TO THE MOST IMPORTANT
ISSUE IN THE WORLD, AND FOR ME,
IT'S CLIMATE CHANGE.
BUT I THINK IT TAKES AN ENORMOUS
AMOUNT OF TRANSFORMATIONAL
LEADERSHIP AND I THINK IT'S TIME
TO LEAVE POLITICS TO BRIGHT NEW
FACES AND VOICES...
SO FROM NOW UNTIL DEATH OR 90 OR
WHATEVER I GET, THIS IS PRETTY
MUCH THE REST OF MY LIFE
He lasted less than a year.
After eight months in the high-profile position as executive director of the Pembina Institute, Murray just fell off the radar.
*Poof* He became invisible, unmentioned in institute business, persona non grata.
He surfaced four months later when he announced his resignation in a brief on-line statement. He was next seen slinking back to Winnipeg to join a company selling software that cities could use to track and recycle solid waste (aka garbage).
What happened? We set out to find out.
It didn't take long.
A timeline tells the tale.
August, 2017 - Glen Murray starts as the executive director of the Pembina Institute
Feb. 21, 2018 - Toronto, ON Pembina Institute executive director Glen Murray will be speaking at this meeting of the BUILD Ideas Society in Toronto.
February 27-28, 2018 - Pembina Institute executive director Glen Murray will be a keynote speaker at the 2018 Ontario Geothermal Conference in Toronto, Ontario.
Mar. 15, 2018 - Vancouver, B.C. Glen Murray, executive director at the Pembina Institute is speaking on the panel "Global Positions on Climate Policy: Who’s Leading the Charge?", at the Globe Forum.
April 26, 2018 RE: Announcing "Rolling Out the Recycling Red Carpet" - 2018 RCA Conference. The Recycling Council of Alberta (RCA) 2018 Waste Reduction Conference
"Rolling Out the Recycling Red Carpet "will be held September 19-21, 2018 at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta. Speakers will include keynote speaker Glen Murray, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute.
Unexpectedly, the trail went dry. There were no mentions of Glen Murray for the next 4 months. Not until...
Sep 10, 2018 Glen Murray's resignation from the Pembina Institute is announced.
So, we thought, the answer lay somewhere in those missing four months. It popped up sooner than we anticipated.
May 18, 2018
Wynne says she ‘doesn’t recall’ being told about accusations against minister
May 31, 2018 · As a cabinet minister, Mr. Murray was an acquaintance of Spiros Papathanasakis, who was the focus of The Globe's investigation.
It was the scandal we wrote about earlier this month.
Investigative reporters for the Globe and Mail wrote how Glen Murray, then the Ontario Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, had tried to intimidate the mayor of the small community of Caledon into approving a large housing development. The town council was following provincial guidance against urban sprawl when it rejected the development as too big and too early.
Murray, the Globe story said, called a meeting with the mayor of Caledon, discussed municipal matters, then told his and her staff members to leave the room. He then told the mayor that he knew of serious complaints against her (which he never detailed) but that he could make those complaints disappear if she agreed to allow the developer to build on land designated for a Canadian Tire distribution centre.
An email uncovered by the Globe reporters showed that he was willing to interfere in the deliberations of a quasi-judicial body that was hearing an appeal of the land dispute between Caledon and the developer by getting a fellow cabinet minister to take it out of their hands, overrule the town council and impose her own decision to permit the housing development to go ahead.
That Globe and Mail story did not sit well with Glen Murray's employers at the Pembina Institute.
After its publication he never again represented the Institute in any public setting.
The next time anyone from the Pembina Institute commented on an issue, in July, it was from a policy analyst and not from the executive director.
The day he announced his resignation, the National Post sought a comment from the Pembina Institute. They got a terse reply.
"Staff with Pembina, reached by the Post on Monday, referred inquiries to the online statement."
Murray did attend the Recycling Red Carpet conference in Banff in mid-September - as a private citizen. His keynote address was a recycled speech that he gave in 2017 in Ontario.
Glen Murray is now running for mayor of Winnipeg, again. But he's run headlong into Don Woodstock, another mayoral candidate, who has locked onto Murray's long history of quitting jobs midway including mayor of Winnipeg in 2004 and Ontario MPP in 2017.
Woodstock asked Murray to sign a pledge to stay the full four-year term if he's elected mayor again. Murray refused.
That's odd. You would think any candidate for mayor would rush to sign a pledge to serve a full term, and add a promise to fill a second term. Why won't Glen Murray?
Five years after Murray quit as mayor of Winnipeg, and as he geared up to run for the legislature in Ontario, Kaj Hasselriis, a former reporter and producer for CBC television, wrote a magazine article giving his assessment of the man, " From a Winnipegger who knows him well" read the subhead.
After Murray left Winnipeg, he landed a position with Toronto consulting firm Navigator for a couple of years, but quit so he could take charge of the Canadian Urban Institute. Now, less than two years into that job, he’s hoping to become an MPP.
Yet he still considers himself a Winnipegger, and says he’ll return one day to run for MP again. At least that’s what he told me a few months ago, when I interviewed him at a Winnipeg coffee shop.
The next federal election is scheduled for 2025. A number of Liberal MP's in Winnipeg are expected to retire by then, opening their seats.
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