Peter Mansbridge, LL.D., May 30, 2001

Peter Mansbridge
Hon. B.A.C.(Mt.Royal Coll.); D.Hum.L.(Lakehead); LL.D.(Mt.All.)

It is a commonplace to recognize that our perceptions of our communities, our nation and the world are now shaped more by what we see on television than by any other medium. And it is equally true that electronic political journalism is the most potent force shaping our conception and practice of democracy through helping us understand the issues influencing our lives and the choices we face as citizens.

As the best personification of this force, Peter Mansbridge, in his role as Chief Correspondent of CBC Television News and Anchor of the 'The National' news, does more than any other person in the country to give us, individually and collectively, a sense of what it is to be Canadian. His clear, direct and authoritative presentation of the events that have shaped the day always reflects a critical intelligence, a thoughtful maturity, and a humane curiosity that penetrate to the heart of complex subjects. As the chief face and voice of public broadcasting in Canada, Peter Mansbridge brings the evening news to us with a conviction that we need to know what has happened, but also that we must see what is important about it, and understand its implications. He does this with grace and charm and, when appropriate, a pointed sense of irony. As all his viewers realize, however, his conviction, while it is intensely and passionately directed to serve the public good, is fundamentally disinterested and fair.

Peter Mansbridge was born in London, England in 1948 and, after coming to Canada, he was educated in Ottawa. He first came to Manitoba in 1966 to take flight training at Portage La Prairie for the Canadian Navy. After leaving the Armed Forces he worked for a while for Transair in Churchill, before being recruited to help develop the C.B.C.'s radio news service to northern Canada. In 1971 he moved to Winnipeg as a reporter for C.B.C. Radio and then C.B.C. Television. He was then briefly the National's reporter in Saskatchewan before being named, in 1976, parliamentary correspondent for the National in Ottawa, a position he held until becoming the Chief Correspondent and anchor of 'The National' in 1988.

In his four decades with C.B.C. News, Peter Mansbridge has provided comprehensive coverage of some of the most significant stories in Canada. He has anchored the coverage of nine federal elections, six leadership conventions, referendums in 1992 (Charlottetown) and 1995 (Quebec), the 1997 flood in Manitoba, the ice storms of 1998 in Ontario and Quebec, and the six emotional days in September 2000 that marked the death and state funeral of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. He has also covered many international crises, including the Falklands War, the Gulf War, and the war in Kosovo, and he has been on the scene to cover the fall of the Berlin wall, numerous royal and papal visits, and the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. In 1994 he reported extensively from Normandy, 50 years after D-Day and in 1995, from Holland and England, on the 50th anniversary of VE-Day.

For this outstanding work, Peter Mansbridge has received seven Gemini Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism. He has won the Gemini for Best Anchor five times, and for Best Overall Broadcast Journalist-the prestigious Gordon Sinclair Award-twice. He was also awarded the gold medal for Best News Anchor at the 2000 New York Festival in a competition among television networks from around the world. These many awards testify to the remarkable quality of a career still in mid-trajectory. The latest sign of the continuing intellectual distinction of that work was the invitation to lecture on 'The State of Television News' at Oxford University in April of this year.