Jack Munro

His impact in B.C. Forestry matters is legendary. The news of his death on Friday rekindles stories that harken to an earlier generation of politics and industry in this province. Columnist Vaughn Palmer, writing here in The Vancouver Sun Saturday, captured the essence of who Jack Munro was for forestry workers and for the labour movement in B.C.: 

“When word spread Friday that Jack Munro had passed away, my first thought was that those of us who write about B.C. politics and labour issues might have to retire the phrase “larger than life.” Munro was surely that, and not just in the physical sense: 6-foot-4, 265 pounds at fighting weight and I do mean fighting. From the ’70s to the ’90s, he was the most commanding presence in the B.C. labour movement, a position secured by sheer force of personality and his leadership of the union representing tens of thousands of B.C. forest workers. Munro was also louder than life and at his most quotable moments, never far from an exclamation point and a profanity. By his own testimony he once used the f-word 32 times in the course of a single speech to the employer’s side in a bargaining session.

Still, it would be a mistake to allow Munro’s personal brand of performance art to overshadow his reputation. In his day, he was the most highly regarded labour leader in B.C., not least by his adversaries in the political arena and across the bargaining table. He also served through the 1990s as head of the Forest Alliance, standing up for the beleaguered forest sector, losing ground to an increasingly influential environmental movement, but leaving his adversaries no doubt that they’d been in a fight.

His passing at age 82 recalls a time when forestry was king, when organized labour was a force to be contended with (especially on the picket line), and when the balance of power in the trade union movement was in the public sector.”

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