Rafe Mair’s passing a sad loss for Canadian journalism

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
October 10, 2017 - 5:38am Updated: October 10, 2017 - 11:25am

KAMLOOPS — Canadian journalism has lost one of its best.

News came yesterday of the death of Rafe Mair— former talk-show host, author, columnist, one-time Kamloops City councilor, former B.C. cabinet minister, lawyer, environmentalist and lovable curmudgeon. He was 85.

Rafe was a classic, no-nonsense, straight-talking commentator in the tradition of Jack Webster who believed he had a calling to tell it like it is. 

He liked to refer to “this appalling provincial government” whether it be the NDP or Liberals. And there was always a cuss word or two somewhere in every sentence.

Back in the ‘70s, he was a Kamloops lawyer — the Mair in the Mair Jensen Blair law firm. Those of us who were around at the time fondly remember his part in the famous bottomless-dancer case.

A bar called Friar Tuck’s that used to operate out of a heritage building on West Victoria Street brought in a dancer named Linda Adams, whose specialty was performing bottomless. She was charged with violating community standards, and Rafe took the case, enthusiastically defending freedom of expression.

Adams was convicted and fined a dollar, but acquitted on appeal.

After a short time on City council, Rafe won a seat for Social Credit in 1975 and joined cabinet in several portfolios, including consumer affairs and the environment, and was given responsibility for constitutional affairs as well.

After that he went into talk radio, where his brash ways and tough questioning of guests both enraged and delighted audiences.

In recent years, my favourite part of the annual Jack Webster journalism awards gala at the Coast was always sitting down with Rafe and reliving the Linda Adams case, and talking about current issues and the failings of politicians.

Rafe won’t be at this year’s edition of the gala on Thursday night but without doubt the proceedings will pause to honour and to remember him as an incorrigible, irascible and incorruptible man who stood up for what he believed in, and what many others believe in as well.