Having watched chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge interview so many national and international politicians of all stripes on CBC’s The National for so many years, I have never seen him so animated as he was on Wednesday, Nov. 4.
Almost the entire hour-long newscast was devoted to events surrounding the first day in office of Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
The access afforded to Mansbridge was quite amazing, beginning with him in lockstep with the new PM and his children on Parliament Hill. He was with them in the elevator in the Peace Tower going up to hoist a fresh flag; then through those portrait-lined corridors of power, and into the PM’s office; listening in during a briefing from political advisors, and then watching Trudeau chatting on live video to children across the country using Google Hangout.
The two men chatted during a limousine ride where Trudeau remarked how they were wearing identical neckties, and later on the bus with the new cabinet where Mansbridge accepted a mild rebuke when he mentioned that he was almost expecting to hear strains of “Kumbaya” coming from the back.
Viewers never found out how many sheets of toilet paper were used during a bathroom break, but that was about the only detail that was missing of the first day of the new Liberal government’s four-year mandate.
The not-so-subtle message portrayed was that the past decade of cuts and threats to further diminish the national public broadcaster was well and truly over and things are being done differently from day one; indeed, these are sunny days at CBC.
Just how long this totally open and transparent mood will last is unknown, but for now sales of toothpaste will be soaring as everyone appears to be smiling. There will be some folks expecting a complete cessation of precipitation, that all the birds in all the trees will be singing and that peace will break out all over the world.
Contrast that mood to what happened the very next day, when the Conservative Party held its first caucus meeting since the election defeat.
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in a van and entered through a back door to avoid media. Seems he gave a brief address and left by the same secretive route. Those remaining chose an interim leader in MP Rona Ambrose, who had been one of Harper’s most staunchly loyal and most vocal supporters for several years as minister of various portfolios.
Canadians are ready to sit back and enjoy the theatrics when these opposing forces clash on Parliament Hill.