Everybody’s got their shirt in a knot about a speech Peter Mansbridge gave to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. I know everybody’s got their shirt in a knot because a lot of journalists are telling me so. Of course, it’s only other journalists who have their shirts in a knot, but it’s news because Mansbridge was paid, do you hear me, paid, to speak to this group. Because he took their money, he’s supposedly now in bed with those dirty hucksters who run the oil sands and can’t possible read the news anymore because he’s tainted goods. 

Maybe the real reason so many journalists have their shirts in a knot is because nobody asked them to speak and they wouldn’t mind some of the easy money that goes with such gigs. I’ve got no problem with Mansbridge speaking to any paying audience because I’ve given such speeches myself. Not, of course, at the mighty fees that Mansbridge charges which are likely in the $20,000-$25,000 range, but I have sung for my supper.

Other journalists do the same and here’s what happens. You show up, stand around at a head table reception, give the identical speech you gave three weeks ago and three months before that on what a great country Canada is and how everybody should be able to live their dream and then you take it on the lam as fast as you can. There’s no time to get brainwashed by the Association of Canadian Candymakers or whoever it is you’re speaking to.

So I’m not worried about Mansbridge becoming a shill for oil or candymakers or anyone else. No, what bothers me is that he’s lost his journalistic edge. His interview with Rob Ford was obsequious; his demeanour on The National is boring. He’s been the anchor since 1912. It’s time to replace him with Ian Hanomansing or Amanda Lang. Then let him speak wherever he wants. I just don’t want him speaking to me anymore.

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