The National host is in the midst of a long goodbye, set to give his final broadcast on Canada Day
In September, 1968, as lore has it, Mansbridge was working as a ticket agent for the regional carrier Transair at the Churchill, Man., airport when an announcement he made over the intercom caught the attention of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation station manager, who complimented his voice and offered him a contract job as a late-night DJ at CHFC-AM. Within a year, Mansbridge had launched a brief newscast on the station, which led to other radio and then TV work with CBC. He became a parliamentary correspondent in 1976.
A little more than a decade later, Mansbridge was the anchor of Sunday Report when CBS came calling with a high-priced offer for him to co-host its revamped morning show. He turned them down after a late-night visit by CBC brass, including Knowlton Nash, the full-time host of The National, who offered to make way for his younger colleague. Mansbridge’s “departure would have meant a weakening of Canadian journalism,” Nash told The Globe and Mail at the time, in terms that may seem excessive in 2017, “and my own personal agenda had to take second place.”
When Mansbridge signs off from his final broadcast on Canada Day, it will mark not just the end of his role as chief correspondent for CBC News, but also the capstone of an era of TV news. With 29 years behind the desk, he is the longest-serving current anchor of a network newscast in North America. (Jim Lehrer left PBS in 2011 after 36 years, and Lloyd Robertson stepped down from CTV National News in 2011 after 35 years.)
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