Ian Hanomansing on the new news
CBC is relaunching its iconic newscast The National on Nov. 6. We talk to one of four new hosts, Ian Hanomansing, who is back in Toronto to kick-start the show.
What makes you most excited about relaunching The National at the CBC?
I think the opportunity. We are exactly one month away from launch, and there is a lot about this show still being determined.… This is actually a different model, and with that comes a huge risk but, on the other side, a huge opportunity.… Right now, we are about to embark on something that, if we do it right, maybe it’ll be a model for other people. It’s not going to be the action news team sitting next to each other and bantering.
Recently, there was a poll on whether or not Canadians would vote for someone who wears a turban (Jagmeet Singh). What do you think of such articles?
I saw that poll today and found it very interesting and certainly wasn’t bothered by the coverage of it. You don’t want to foment intolerance and stir it up, but I think it’s important to confront it and discuss it. I like the fact that we have that conversation and we talk about how we’ve progressed. Things have changed so much in this society in 30 or 40 years. I remember filling in on The National years ago, and I would come upstairs and remember seeing the look on some of the editorial assistants’ faces answering the phones, and I heard later that some of those calls were people saying very unkind things about me, and it didn’t have to do with how I read the newscast. That doesn’t really happen anymore. The reaction to Jagmeet Singh also says something about where we are.
Have you been in Toronto long enough yet to realize our vast superiority to Vancouver?
I arrived on Sunday. And so it still feels like one of the many dozens of stints I’ve had here. But here is the thing: I grew up in New Brunswick and spent a lot of time in Toronto as a Maritimer, and I lived here for just under a year, and I really like Toronto. In Vancouver, I used to say this to people all the time. So many people there have never been in Toronto but know they really don’t like it. In Vancouver, when I had no idea I was coming back, I’d say I really like Toronto to someone, and there was always a pause in the conversation because I think people thought it was a set-up for a joke.
So you’ve enjoyed your return so far then?
You know what, when I’m coming into the city and taking that last turn passing the CNE and Lake Ontario and the towers on the left hand side of the cab, always, I don’t care how many times I see it, it’s always exciting.
All right, but I really want to hear about this hockey board game of yours, the NHL General Manager Game.
It’s kind of sitting here. I’ve been working on it since the mid-2000s and was really busy between 2005 and 2011, but boy, the board game
business is hard to break into.
You must be a big hockey fan then. Must be nice to come to a city with a team actually on the rise.
Absolutely. You know what, I grew up in New Brunswick as a Habs fan, so I was always an outlier in Vancouver, even during the rise of the Canucks, with two game seven appearances in the Stanley Cup final in ’94 and especially in 2011, when everyone thought they would really win. But being a Habs fan in Vancouver is not a rare thing. There are a lot of Leafs and Habs fans, but I could never fully embrace what was happening there, and now, I’m a Habs fan in Toronto.
What is your greatest fear?
I don’t know that I have a greatest fear, but rodents are right up there.
What is your most treasured possession?
Family photo albums from the ’90s. Oh, and my Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy picture disk.
When and where were you happiest?
I would say, I don’t want to sound too corny, but last year, our two university-aged boys were back home, and the four of us, my wife, my two sons and I, were having supper. And I remember looking around the table and thinking I didn’t expect the four of us to be sitting around having supper for the first time in years, maybe since my oldest kid was in Grade 9, and I said, “You know what, let’s savour this.” Then, one of my sons just rolled his eyes and said, “great.”
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Clever answers to questions like these.