Posted by: pafmurray | May 26, 2009

Murray Makes National News

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to have an article appear in The Globe and Mail about me, especially by Andre Picard, one of Canada’s most accomplished columnists!

The unfortunate part of it is that Mr. Picard did not interview me for the story, and therefore the article has some serious flaws, aside from having one libellous statement concerning me.

Nonetheless I am honoured that such a columnist would write a story about me in the Globe and Mail.

Here is a link to the article and below is an op ed that I submitted to the Globe and Mail in response. (The Globe and Mail printed my letter to the editor on the Saturday following when the article was published.)

*               *               *                 *

The following is my reply to Globe and Mail columnist, Andre Picard’s attack on myself and my methods, in his column of May 21 entitled “A battle of wheels”. The quotations in “italics and parenthesis” are Mr. Picard’s own words.

“On June 7, more than 30,000 cyclists will take to the streets for the annual Tour de l’Ile (Le Tour), a leisurely 50-km jaunt around the Island of Montreal.”

“The event, organized by the non profit group Velo Quebec (VQ) is designed to promote cycling as a healthy family activity and an alternative form of transportation.”

If VQ is trying to promote cycling as a healthy activity, why is it not mandatory for the 45,000 participants of VQ events to wear cycling helmets?

Le Tour “does lead to some delays for some drivers.” The inconvenience is massive and has led to the outright banning of the event by three cities. Three other cities are prepared to put up with the inconvenience/expense, providing the participants are invited to raise funds for charity.

Last year another mayor told Pedal Magazine; “And it’s not Velo Quebec that gets the complaint calls after the event, it’s the telephone here at City Hall that rings instead.”

“Just as curious is that Mr. Levine has targeted Le Tour de l’Ile and not made a big stink about other state supported traffic disrupting events like the Montreal Marathon, the Jazz Festival, the Santa Clause Parade, the St. Jean Baptiste parade and so on that that do not actively raise money for charity either.”

Incorrect! The Montreal Marathon’s participants are invited to raise funds for charity.

As founder of a dormant public foundation, whose mission it is to invite the participants of running, etc. events to raise funds for the charities of their choice, I do not target festivals and parades. I know of no precedent where those attending such events are invited to raise funds for charity. Besides, unlike Le Tour, far more people enjoy the parades/festivals than are inconvenienced by them!

“Regardless of his ulterior motive-Mr. Levine is, after all, a professional fundraiser..” I am not, nor have I ever been a professional fundraiser. I have been a volunteer fundraiser, consciousness raiser and agitator for over twenty years. If anyone wishes to pay me, I can use the money!

To insinuate that I have an “ulterior motive” is a totally unjustified personal attack, and in view of Mr. Picard’s exceptional reputation as a journalist, it simply shows that even the best can make mistakes.

Mr. Picard asked; “Is the promotion of physical activity-in this case cycling a worthy cause in itself?”

Of course it is, but why not add value to the exercise, as do thousands of similar events?

Had Mr. Picard interviewed me prior to his attack, he may have learned that I fully support the promotion of physical activity. I am the immediate past-Chairperson (volunteer) of the Montreal Section of the Alpine Club of Canada. Through ACC Keene Farm Inc., a US non-profit, (of which I am volunteer president), we own a 105 acre property in the Adirondack Mountains of NY. I am constantly trying to promote use of the property so that outdoors people (including cyclists) can have a very inexpensive place to stay, so that they can enjoy their favourite self propelled activity in the mountains.

As well, had Mr. Picard interviewed me before writing his seriously flawed article he would have saved himself the trouble of putting his words into my mouth; “But on June 7, on the streets of Montreal, there will be a welcome respite: Cycling for the sake of cycling; breathing for the sake of breathing. Families hanging out together without, as a prerequisite, the systemic badgering of friends and relatives for sponsorship.”

Sorry, but in 16 years, I have never asked that it be a prerequisite in order to cycle in Le Tour, that one must raise funds. I have simply been asking that the participants be invited to raise funds and decide on their own whether they would like to do so or not.

Quebec is by far the worst area for both charitable giving and volunteerism north of the Rio Grande.

The median annual receipted charitable contribution of the tax filers in QC (2007), of those who made a receipted contribution was a paltry $130.

The medians of the four provinces, with less disposable income than those of the QC, ranged from $300 to $360 (2.3 to 2.8 times more than QC) and the gap has been increasing.

The per capita contribution in QC, to major national charities, also illustrates exactly how poorly QC compares to the other provinces.

There is a major sociological problem in QC, and it clearly delineates along linguistic lines. McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) raise far more than the Universite de Montreal and the Centre Hospitalier de Universite de Montreal (CHUM).

To illustrate, the recent radiothon for the Montreal Children’s Hospital (MUHC) raised $1.6 million, while the last radiothon for the Hopital Ste-Justine pour Enfants (CHUM) only raised $772,000 (48% of the former). There are far more francophones in Quebec than anglophones/allophones.

In view of the fact that the participants of athletic events in far, far more charitable areas than Quebec are invited to raise funds, I fail to see why, when the opportunity exists, especially in Quebec, to invite 45,000 cyclists to raise funds, that they should be exempted from being invited (not forced) to do so..

The tactics that I use are simply used to put political and public pressure on a closed minded Velo Quebec, so that they will do, what they should have started to do, even before I first asked them to do it, sixteen years ago!

Now that the readers of the Globe and Mail have heard both sides of the argument, I welcome them to decide as to whether I should be crucified, or congratulated.



  1. Hi Murrey
    J’ai lu ton bolgue et je suis avec toi.
    Adrienne (ACC)

  2. I commend you for all of your unselfish hard work. I know you well and I know you are not benefitting financially from any of your activities. All the time you spend on these projects and your dedication is unbelievable! I know your payment is only the gratification that you receive when you feel you are helping others! I wish you success!

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