Vancouver Talk Show Giant Rafe Mair Dead at 85


 By Tom Hawthorne,       Oct. 9 2017

Rafe Mair swapped his seat at the provincial cabinet table in Victoria for one in a radio studio in Vancouver. Only in British Columbia would that be a promotion.

The well-known broadcaster and author died Monday morning, his family said. He was 85.

Mair did not become a radio talk show host until age 49 in 1981, by which time the lawyer had served five years in the B.C. legislature and held four different cabinet portfolios, as well as responsibility for constitutional affairs.

He found a larger following and greater sway behind the microphone.

For more than 20 years, Mair invited a procession of politicians and others onto his radio hot seat, where he would he’d batter them with a trademark patter of tough questions delivered in a rapid, staccato style. His legal background made him adept at treating “guests” in an adversarial and inquisitorial manner.

“I am a prickly, hard-to-get-along-with bugger with an excess of pride and, I suppose, ego,” he acknowledged in his memoir.

His self-regard was not insubstantial, as his online biography cites his expertise on jazz, the law, baseball trivia, constitutional affairs and Winston Churchill.

He shared with his audience his personal struggles with anxiety and depression, an admirable effort on his part to use his celebrity to help remove the stigma from mental illness.

A fly-fisherman whose preferred practice was catch and release until he decided even that was cruel, Mair was an outspoken advocate for the environment, especially for salmonids and the great British Columbia rivers in which they spawn. He opposed fish farms and successfully fought Alcan’s Kemano Completion Project, which threatened the salmon-bearing Nechako River.

History will remember him as the chief pitchfork-wielder and torch-carrier of the populist mob that arose to oppose the constitutional reforms known as the Charlottetown Accord. Put to a referendum, the package was rejected by 68.3 per cent of British Columbia voters, the largest margin of defeat in the country, no doubt owing to Mair’s over-the-air campaign. For all his unbreakable opinions about how best to govern Canada, his stated perceptions of Eastern Canada rarely went beyond predictable cliché, and he offered even less insight about Quebec. By his own admission, he felt more a British Columbian than a Canadian.

READ MORE ABOUT RAFE  (and other BC news)  HERE  AT

Tom Hawthorne is a Victoria journalist and author. His most recent book is The Year Canadians Lost Their Minds and Found Their Country.

Rafe Mair’s career itinerary, courtesy Gord Lansdell and his Vancouver Broadcasters website:Called to B.C. Bar 1961; Senior Partner Mair & Co. Kamloops 1971-75; Alderman City of Kamloops 1973-74; Elected to B.C. Legislature/Minister of Consumer Services 1975; Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs 1976-78; responsible for Constitutional Affairs 1977-80; Minister of Environment 1978-79; Minister of Health 1979-81; host Rafe Mair Show CJOR Vancouver 1981-84; talk show host CKNW Vancouver 1984-2003; columnist Vancouver Province 1995-2002; wrote The Last Cast 1995, Canada: Is Anyone Listening?1998 & Rants, Raves and Recollections 2005; host Rafe Mair show CKBD Vancouver 2003-04; 6 p.m. news editorials Citytv Vancouver 2003-04; guest commentator CBC-TV Vancouver/frequent panelist CTV British Columbia 2004; editorials OMNI-TV Vancouver 2005; Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement and Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame; Honourary Doctor of Laws Simon Fraser University 2009. 


  1. RIP Mr. Mair. Always informed, powerful of opinion and simply outstanding professionalism in talk radio hosting, people like Mair are few and far between and out of today’s talk radio caudry only fewer of such people exist on air.

    I grew up into talk radio with Rafe being a big part of it back in the day. I did not always agree with Rafe but boy oh boy he made me think.

    The day of idiocy when Plasteras fired Rafe for a what was a B.S. harassment case from some snowflake, butt hurt female staffer was one of the first big blocks of talk radio set back for CKNW.

    My condolences to Rafe’s family and friends.

  2. So sad to hear that Rafe has passed. He lived a very interesting and rewarding life notwithstanding the bogus departure CKNW forced upon him.

    Unfortunately in todays PC corporate world of broadcasting there will never be another Rafe Mair to cut through the political BS and tell his listeners what’s really going on.

    R.I.P. Rafe.

  3. Nao,

    Only on alternate media such as Youtube channels and podcasting do you get any semblance of cutting through political and media B.S. as well as get any idea of what a person really needs to know as well as to provoke one’s own thoughts. MSM has all been more or less, neutered, sold out and are now basic propagandists and zombie-like shills for the B.S. and status quo which will soon all fall down.

  4. Can’t you for once leave your political bias out of a post?
    Is it possible to simply offer condolences or maybe a memory of a person who had an incredible career both on and off the air? Why must every post contain personal politics and other bs. Geez.

    Condolences to the Mair family.

  5. Oh come on, Barry T, you’re being silly. Rafe would have no problem talking about politics, period, even after his death. That was what the man was all about. Condolences to the family

  6. Barry T.

    People are offering their condolences, BUT! Rafe was a political opinion heavyweight. I feel he’d be proud of people talking current politics and MSM propaganda while remembering him and his grand talk radio career and prior political career himself.

    I’m sure he in his passing would not want only wall flowers and “muh feelings” type people being any part of his legacy. He would want DOG ON A BONE political discussions and holding politicians, bureaucrats, media elites and global NGO’s feet all to the fire so to speak.

    That, Barry, shows our respect to the now late Mr. Mair.

  7. Condolences to Rafe’s family, friends and especially Shiral Tobin whose production skills and loyalty augmented the latter portion of his talk-show years.

    Despite the shabby way Corus suits contrived Rafe’s exit from CKNW, I have so far been impressed by personal reminiscence segments by Jon and Simi. Drex and Lynda Steele, too young to have been colleagues with Rafe, showed great awareness of his broadcasting impact. ‘NW devoted a memorial special to Jack Cullen. It would be a very classy move if the station did the same for Rafe.

    I was a tad too young to hear Pat Burns in his prime. But I was blessed to enjoy a Golden Era of Talk with Jack Webster, Rafe, Gary Bannerman, Dave Abbott, Roy Jacques, Barrie Clark, Judy LaMarsh , Fanny Kiefer, Vicki Gabareau, Bill Good and Terry Moore.

    Last I heard, Bill was a CKWX editorialist while Terry still subs for various hosts on CFAX in Victoria. It’s ironic that Bill attracted an editorialist slot after leaving ‘NW. When he inherited Rafe’s show, he –with few exceptions– seldom opened with a commentary as had his feisty predecessor. My favourite Mair op-eds were commemorations of the lives of prominent or significant British Columbians who had died. While illuminating lives lived, these eulogies showed the softer side of Rafe.

    Again, I feel blessed to have heard and, on a couple of occasions, interviewed him. Godspeed.

  8. I was lucky enough to be addressed by Rafe as “caller”. H e was a very good reason to tune your radio to 980.
    Rest in peace Mr.Mair

  9. It is a very sad day indeed. I had the honour of being a moderator/administrator of his online politics forum for 10 years and there was never a dull moment. He was both fiery and gentle, with always the best intentions.

    ps. Rocker Rich… don’t forget Doug Collins who was awesome (despite his later railroaded controversies.)

  10. Thanks for the reminder about Doug Collins, Gavin.

    I forgot Ed Murphy who also had a talk-radio impact in San Francisco. A Vancouver pub bearing Ed’s surname prospered years after he left the airwaves. And there’s probably two or three other “dollar a holler” hosts that have been lost to me in the mists of time.

    Also, I don’t want my earlier comments about Bill Good to be construed as an attack on him for not continuing Rafe’s tradition of opening editorials. If I recall correctly, Bill was burning a three-ended candle with the 8 am NW major newscast, then the show and then vamoosing to prepare for supper-hour tv newscasts. It was quite obvious from listening to Rafe that he put much time into preparing each op-ed. They never sounded slapdash. Nor have the ones I’ve heard Bill present on ‘WX.

    My politics tended to align more closely to Rafe than Bill. But both were total pros in their dedication to keeping listeners tuned in. Whatever the relationship was between the two, I’m sure Bill must feel like he’s almost the last man standing from Vancouver’s golden age of talk.

  11. I did not always agree with Mr. Mair and I believe that is the way it should be. Unlike most at CKNDP (NW) today who are Shilling for the Federal Liberals, The Provincial NDP, or All the time Anti Trump regardless of what the U.S. Admin does Mair was Fair and Balanced.

    He was opinionated yes but he looked at each and every situation independently and did nor become trapped into supporting any single Political Party or Ideology!

    RIP – Mr. Mair!

    There are plenty of Talking Heads at CKNDP that could learn a lot from your Broadcasting FOR The People, not themselves and their own Petty Politics!

  12. BMCQ

    Thumbs up 100%. Rafe was a most critical thinker. Though he was no socialist, (thankfully) he would be critical of center-right to right of center political and parties too.

    CKNW surely keeps pom pom manufactures in good business as since the mid 80’s and my coming to listen to CKNW never have I ever saw such one sided leftist, SJW, 3rd wave feminist anti-Trump, Anti-USA and self -righteous shite by on air staffers and producers as I see today at the black tower. They obviously cannot even try to be objective today. CKNW is a part of the propagandist, leftist/liberal MSM and all global elite B.S. and they will all suffer in due time as more and more people get red pilled each day.

  13. Les H.

    It amazes me to watch and listen to the “Elite Liberal SJW” that hate everything that is not PC or Anti Conservative.

    Between SJW on/in Liberal Media, Teachers, and University Professors and their Agenda against anything Free Enterprise I find it incredible that People under 35 are able to think for themselves at all.

    When thinking back to those “Take No Prisoners” open Line Radio Hosts of days past it makes me wonder how CKNDP (NW) fell into the hands of the Program Director that has been setting the tone for the past few years.

    What the Hell Happened?

    Why have ‘t the Advertisers Clued In?

    Why hasn’t another Local Station Hired Michael Smith, Jill Bennet and one other Middle of the road Host and gone after the once Giant NW 98?

    I am quite sure that CKNDP (NW) would “Fold like a Cheap Tent”!

  14. BMCQ,

    If you Youtube the numerous anti-Trump, anti-USA, anti-Capitalism, pro-socialism/communism protests throughout much of the [libtard parts ] of the USA and western world, notably the Antifa and BLM retards, THEY REALLY DO NOT THINK MUCH! They act and look like total clueless zombies

    “NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO FASCIST USA!” is about all these RETARDS can chant in unison. These Antifa and BLM’ers are either college brainwashed SJW studies course taking which for $30,000-$40,000 gets them an UNEMPLOYMENT DEGREE millennials or are hippie’s as uni professors and govt. bureaucrats still living in commie utopia promising, flower power 1960’s

    IMO the most of the millennials of these groups are UNEMPLOYABLE! They lack any ability to move their lives forward. They are essentially retarded but not institutionalized victims of 50+ effing year of socialism dressed in the cloak of liberalism. I fear the future for these people and the costs they will be on our society.

    The old fart hippie professors and the aged ‘spinster’ female school teachers will all basically be dead and gone before we choke through their B.S. indoctrination of a promised socialistic utopia ‘tomorrow’ they say. But we all know tomorrow is always one day away. Their unholy alliance of mutual hating the USA and the western world with Islam will only make it harder for us to choke through this crap and nonsense.

    Ronald Reagan at the 1964 Republican Convention said it well. [PARAPHRASING]. The Socialists knew that socialism could not take hold in the USA under the name of socialism, but rename it liberalism and it will take hold in the USA… PROPHETIC!

  15. Barry T. Public forums mean people can voice any opinion they wish. You sound like a control freak. If people wanna politicize posts…..Then that’s their right.

  16. Les H


    Perhaps the most important thing about Mair unlike almost all Media Types today particular the regular Hosts at CKNDP (NW) is the fact that he had No Agenda, he was objective and treated each story independently and that was insightful, informative, and thought provoking radio!

    Today whether it be CKNDP, CNN, CBC, BBC, NYT, WaPo, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, and most of the rest they almost All have that Leftist Mantra they live by.

    Then as you add in Educators young People today have no chance.

    ‘”Who needs the Facts or the Truth when one has Ideology”!

    If one wishes to see what Socialism does to a whole Continent of once remarkable Countries simply take a look at almost all of the EU.

    Within one Generation a disengaged POTUS Obama, Merkel, Lofven, Junker, Cameron, Renzi, Sarkozy, HOLLAND, and the rest have managed to destroy the Economies, the Cultures, Security/Safety, and Standard of Living of those once great Countries that were once the envy of the World!

    I for one would be very interested in hearing what Mr. Mair would have said about that Catastrophe.

  17. BMCQ,

    The EU is the USSR 2.0. 21st. century style Brussels is the E.U’s Moscow. Merkel’s Germany is it’s brain. How an educated continent can allow itself to fall into this cabal of socialism 21st century style BLOWS ME AWAY!

    The next European civil war is not too far away. WWI was its first modern civil war. WWII was really the completion of WWI and both times good ole Germany was the biggest fox in the hens house.

    Euro Civil War III will be different only in that Germany this time will fight allied with France and not against it. Other E.U. nations and nations abroad will draw lines. Most of the western Euro nations will get in bed with the EU/Germany /France alliance. Others having lived under decades of oppression, most of the east euro nations will fight against this cabal, ironically likely in an alliance with Russia, the USA (will be drawn into this 3rd Euro civil war) and with Britain in tow.

    The central tenet of the 3rd Euro civil war will be Islamic migrants and their social costs, political and criminal activities, meddling by Arab nations will only exacerbate this. Then we shall see what will be COMPLETELY FAILED E.U. economies.

    How it shakes out in the end who knows? But in life and a hopeful positive spin, GOOD always defeats BAD, no matter how costly it may be. The E.U IS THE BAD and has numerous liberal/leftist, globalist, Islamist bad dude as allies… SAD BUT SO 🙁

  18. I wonder what Rafe thought about todays NW? He must have cringed when the news readers fumble story after story. The days of Bell and Mark are long gone. The new age producers that are so childish I sometimes feel embarrassed for them. The content that is repeated to the point of stupidity. Im sure that the people that made NW the powerhouse it once was are sad to see the remains. I havent seen Frosty on PSR or Keeping It Real. I hope hes okay.

  19. Sooner or later everyone takes the red pill…May as well be sooner. Truths, facts, logic and the search for such care of the red pill will be the most enlightening and yes at times scary thing one can do and can accept. So pick it up, that’s right pick up that red pill and swallow it, you will thank me for it.

    Once you take the red pill the world as you saw it will be revealed to you as all basically a sham, a side show carnival, a blissful appearing drug of faux compassion and joy, but in reality a world of lies, distortions, social and political virtue signalling and debauchery. The red pill lifts proverbial veils and then lets you see truths, facts and base your views more on logic and reason, not blind emotions and look at me back patting, virtue signalling.


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