He anchored CBC's coverage of 9/11, interviewed Barack Obama and reported on every federal election since 1972
Peter Mansbridge, who is hanging up his lapel mic as anchor of CBC’s flagship nightly news and current affairs program The National this year, is receiving a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa from the University of Toronto.
The Committee for Honorary Degrees is recognizing him for “having elevated journalism and broadcasting across the country, and for his outstanding service to the nation, through his extraordinary impact on the understanding of Canadian politics, culture, and society.”
Here are three things you should know about Mansbridge.
His big break
Mansbridge got his big break in an unlikely place, the Churchill Airport in Manitoba. In 1968, he was working for an airline when a local CBC producer heard him making an announcement over the intercom. The producer was so impressed with Mansbridge's baritone that he offered him a job on-air. By 1976, he had moved to Ottawa to report on parliament for CBC TV.
When asked about his trickiest interview, Mansbridge often tells the story about meeting former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1993 while she was on a tour promoting her memoir, The Downing Street Years. She accused him of not reading her book. “She was in a really bad mood and kept taking it out on me, unfairly I thought,” he told The Toronto Star in 2009.
Years later, in an appearance at the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, Mansbridge again described interviewing Thatcher, adding: “When it was over and they turned the lights (and cameras) off, she suddenly smiled, looked at me and said, ‘Peter, would you like me to sign your book?’”
The president will see you now
Even veteran newscasters get nervous. Mansbridge has said he actually likes to be on edge before a big interview.
Before interviewing Obama in 2009, however, he felt “remarkably calm,” he told the Star. But he got the jitters as soon as he saw the U.S. president’s reflection in the mirror of the hotel lobby where they were to meet. “I've never put the wrong pants on for a suit before, and seeing I had done that made me feel a little more prepped,” he said.