A gambler’s guide to the competition to replace Peter Mansbridge
In September, Peter Mansbridge announced that he’d step down as the anchor and chief correspondent of CBC’s The National after nearly three decades on the job—but not until July 1, 2017. The ten-month victory lap may seem self-indulgent, but it’s not entirely unwarranted: the anchor of The National remains the public broadcaster’s most visible face, and Mansbridge has been that guy since 1988. Now, the CBC is reportedly considering a new format for its flagship newscast, featuring multiple hosts who are also “active journalists.” Who will be in the hotseat when all is said and done? We weigh the odds:
The case for: If the CBC made the switch quickly, the network could probably swap Pete out for David Common without most viewers even noticing. Common is already familiar to The National’s audience. He has reported from around the world, covered wars and, according to his bio, “once interviewed Elmo,” so he’d be ready to head out into the field when needed.
The case against: If the CBC really wants to revamp the show, they may decide to make a bolder choice.
The odds: 3 to 1
The case for: Hanomansing is instantly recognizable to CBC viewers, having spent years building up the credibility to anchor the CBC’s flagship. He hasn’t said outright that he’d like Mansbridge’s gig, but some have already decided that the job is his.
The case against: After a report claiming that Hanomansing would replace Mansbridge surfaced in the Trinidadian press, the CBC said earlier this year that no decisions had been made. Hanomansing also cast doubt on the report, without issuing an outright denial.
The odds: 2:1
The case for: He calls himself the “sole occupant” of the CBC’s Los Angeles bureau, and he frequently plays both cameraman and reporter. For a time, he hosted The National on Saturdays, and the CBC credits him as one of the first anchors to film, edit and introduce his own work. He’s also a novelist.
The case against: If the CBC’s higher-ups were serious about elevating Brunhuber to the broadcaster’s most prominent role, they might be keeping him a little closer to home base. But maybe he just likes the palm trees?
The odds: 15 to 1
The case for: You know Mark Kelley. He’s the former anchor of Connect With Mark Kelley, and a host for the CBC’s investigative program, The Fifth Estate. The CBC sure likes him—they feature him in promotional material, and he’s been a rumoured heir to Mansbridge for years. (But can you imagine Mansbridge smiling at a room full of marijuana with this kind of whoa-man enthusiasm?)
The case against: There are no obvious strikes against Kelley, but he might be content with the latitude and sweet, smokey perks that come with his current investigative gig.
The odds: 2 to 1
The case for: Mesley is already a regular host of The National, and, aside from Mansbridge himself, is probably the name most associated with the program. Mesley, who is also Mansbridge’s ex-wife, has been around for quite a while.
The case against: Mesley has already had a long career, so she wouldn’t be able to make the same long-long-term commitment to the gig as Mansbridge did.
The odds: 10 to 1
The case for: To a generation of television-addicted young Canadians, Connie Walker will forever be recognizable as one of the hosts of Street Cents. Today, Walker is an investigative journalist known for her work on indigenous issues. She was one of the reporters behind the CBC’s “Missing and Murdered” project, and she hosted a true-crime podcast about the murder of Alberta Williams, an indigenous woman killed in British Columbia in 1989.
The case against: Despite her journalistic heft, she’s not the most recognizable name on this list.
The odds: 25 to 1
The case for: Barton led the Power and Politics team through the departure of former host Evan Solomon, and proved herself to be tougher and more entertaining than her predecessor. In a scrap with immigration minister Chris Alexander, she deployed this particularly spicy meatball: “If you want to avoid the question…let’s just be clear that that’s what’s happening.”
The case against: Power and Politics might be a better place for Barton’s grilling skills, particularly if The National maintains its trademark blandness.
The odds: 20 to 1
The case for: There was a time when George Stroumboulopoulos was a literal poster boy for the CBC—a time when The Hour was the younger, cooler, pierced little brother of The National. Things haven’t gone so smoothly for Strombo since then, but he remains a nationally recognizable face and a capable TV presenter. Maybe he could be coaxed out of his home, which he has converted into a noise-complaint factory.
The case against: Strombo has had high-profile strikeouts at CNN and Hockey Night in Canada. Plus, appointing him to a stodgy, traditional journalism gig could make him look a little Poochie-esque.
The odds: 500 to 1
The case for: Want an anchor who’s also an “active journalist”? What about human punditry Pez-dispenser Jon Kay? He’s just left his job as editor of the Walrus, so he’s got free time. He loves to yak, and he has supporters at the highest ranks of the Canadian journalism establishment.
The case against: You can’t put Kay in a box, man.
The odds: 250 to 1
The case for: Canadaland ringmaster Jesse Brown already knows his way around the CBC building, and his reporting shows he’s acquainted with the broadcaster’s staffers. He’s even studied up on the salary and benefits that come with the job. If the CBC wants to attract new viewers, why not hire a guy whose loyal audience hands over $15,125 a month for the privilege of hearing from him?
The case against: Brown’s obviously happier reporting on the CBC than he would be reporting for the CBC. In all likelihood, he’ll be stacking Patreon cash for years to come.
The odds: 1,000,000 to 1
Anne-Marie Mediwake and Dwight Drummond
The case for: Before she left the CBC in 2016, Mediwake said she considered co-host Dwight Drummond “a brother.” So why not get the old gang back together? They’re both seasoned on-screen personalities with plenty of experience anchoring the CBC’s evening Toronto newscast.
The case against: Drummond is known for his work at the local level, and may not have the national profile the CBC’s higher-ups are looking for. Mediwake has said her new job as host of CTV’s Your Morning is a better fit for her and her family.
The odds: 100 to 1
Come on. Please?
The odds: 1,000,000,000 to 1