The year of #enough2016

CBC’s news icon Peter Mans­bridge has been re­port­ing events near and far for decades — and maybe one more year. With that in mind, we go to our evening news guru for a look back at a very iffy year, to try and make sense of it all.

North Toronto Post - - News - by Ron John­son

As far as years go, most peo­ple would agree that we’ve had bet­ter. We saw the deaths of artis­tic lu­mi­nar­ies such as David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Co­hen, for ex­am­ple, com­bined with the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump that has many fear­ing for the fu­ture. So we went to the guy who has seemed to make sense of a lot of things for a lot of Cana­di­ans for about four decades: CBC news­man Peter Mans­bridge, who is plan­ning to sign off on The Na­tional for the last time in the com­ing year.

This has been a crazy year for many peo­ple, from left­lean­ing politi­cos to mu­sic fans. From your chair, has it been as ab­nor­mally abysmal as it seems to some?

You’re never go­ing to please ev­ery­one. This year, there were a lot of stories that re­ally im­pacted peo­ple on a gut level. There was the elec­tion of Trump in the United States after a year where peo­ple couldn’t believe what they were watch­ing. And it’s had a lin­ger­ing im­pact, and peo­ple are still talk­ing about it and still won­der­ing about it and how it’s go­ing to im­pact them. There was Gord Downie’s ill­ness, which had such a huge ef­fect on a wide swath of Cana­di­ans. You know, we tend to think the Hip kind of im­pacted a generation sur­round­ing the late ’80s and ’90s, but it was a lot more than that. It was a re­ally Cana­dian story on so many dif­fer­ent lev­els, and peo­ple were up­set by it but also took some refuge in the fact that here was a guy who is will­ing to spend his re­main­ing months or years fight­ing for a cause, and that af­fected a lot of peo­ple. But then you throw in some­thing that makes ev­ery­one feel good, the Blue Jays sea­son again. It’s very rare when you get the en­tire coun­try be­hind some­thing from Toronto, but there it was. And we felt good about it, and it was a great ride while it lasted.

What has given you hope?

I believe in the en­dur­ing good­ness of Cana­di­ans. I think, when push does come to shove, Cana­di­ans tend to do the right thing. Of­ten, that is in show­ing ways they care. Whether it is on the big picture — the way Cana­di­ans stepped up on the Syr­ian refugee cri­sis — or much smaller things in a time of eco­nomic un­cer­tainty, like drives for sup­port whether it is hospi­tals or char­i­ties. And when I see that, I think, as bad as things some­times look, we seem to rally to­gether and do good things.

What would you say was the most un­der-re­ported story of the year?

I still believe, and have done for the past 10 or 15 years, that cli­mate change is the most un­der­re­ported story. We tend to de­bate it still when the facts are pretty damn clear. I don’t think that on any level we are ready for what’s com­ing over the next cen­tury. I think we are hand­ing on a le­gacy to chil­dren and grand­chil­dren that they are go­ing to judge us by.

Have you seen any­thing that com­pares to the re­cent U.S. elec­tion, both in the lead up and the re­sults?

No, noth­ing like this. This guy did every­thing against con­ven­tion. There is no ques­tion he took stands con­sid­ered by many to be racist, big­oted and sex­ist, and he al­lowed that to be out there, and clearly it ap­pealed to some peo­ple. He didn’t cam­paign in a nor­mal way. He didn’t buy TV ads un­til the very end. It was kind of un­heard of. No­body would have done that be­fore, and I don’t think the net­works would have ac­cepted the calls. This guy was a draw, and he knew how to play the me­dia, and we kept say­ing it, and he kept play­ing us any­way.

Is there any rea­son for op­ti­mism?

The only caution I’ll throw in: although this cam­paign has been un­like any­thing else I’ve seen, and some of the stuff he said was out­ra­geous and al­lowed to be said on his be­half was out­ra­geous, I cov­ered Rea­gan-Carter, and there was this feel­ing on the part of a lot of peo­ple that we’d be at nu­clear war in a month if Rea­gan won. Peo­ple were hor­ri­fied at the thought that he’d win, and then when he won, even more hor­ri­fied. In a way, I’ve seen this movie be­fore to a de­gree, but noth­ing like this. As Obama said [about Trump], “He won. Let’s see what he does with it.” And I’ll guess we’ll find out.

And what about lo­cally, in Toronto — what do you see as the big stories shap­ing up for 2017?

Well, if you’d asked me yes­ter­day I’m not sure what I would have said. But this morn­ing, I read about Tory want­ing tolls on the Gar­diner and the DVP. And I gotta say, as some­one who trav­els the world and has been to a lot of dif­fer­ent places, I’ve al­ways won­dered why we seem to only have one [toll road, High­way 407]. But it’s go­ing to be an issue. It’s a very chal­leng­ing mo­ment for politi­cians to start in­creas­ing the cost of liv­ing for peo­ple.

What else should we be pay­ing more at­ten­tion to?

The other thing that is ev­i­dent in this city: you walk down some of the rich­est streets in this coun­try where money changes hands — and I’m talk­ing about down­town Toronto — you walk down those streets and see men and women ly­ing un­der blan­kets on top of heat­ing vents in the side­walks, and you know that some­thing is not right here. There are amaz­ing peo­ple work­ing to try and cor­rect that sit­u­a­tion. But it is still a stag­ger­ing thing to see in 2016 when we are on the verge of our 150th birth­day, a coun­try ad­mired and cher­ished around the world. It is still quite a sight to see.

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