Peter Mansbridge and the Vancouver Food Bank
When we were finally introduced, I discretely wiped the perspiration from my palm and shook his hand.
He greeted me with a warmth I hadn't been prepared for, and I felt something shift.
It was clear right then why he was so good at what he does. There is an instant sense of depth and kindness about him that's both relaxing and inviting ...
tV: Whose idea was it to create this event?
PM: CBC Vancouver has been supporting food banks for 24 years. You hope on these things that the need will go down over time but it doesn't. The gap between the rich and poor keeps growing. You see these startling figures. 40% of those using the services are kids.
A large number of those needing the food banks are not the ones we generally think of: the unemployed, the homeless. They're the working poor: people who have jobs.
When you see that kind of thing happening, the next thing you see is a city like this one especially, that reacts.
Last year we raised 600,000 dollars. This year I imagine that number will be even higher. That's a tribute to the people of this city who care about their neighbours.
tV: What does it mean to you personally to be involved in this event?
PM: When you see kids, no matter what their family circumstances are, you want to do something or you're not human. When you hear the stories of people who have jobs and need the help of the food bank, you want to help.
For me it was easy to want to get involved. I work for a corporation that cares about these things and look what's happening here. The whole weight of the CBC here in Vancouver is thrown behind this cause. Everybody is totally committed.
tV: What's your favourite aspect of this event?
PM: The most important part is helping. The added bonus for me is I actually get to meet viewers. I don't see a lot of that sitting in a studio in a concrete bunker in Toronto. You sort of talk to a camera and hope there's somebody watching and listening.
When you do events like this you actually get to see who you're talking to and you get to hear what they have to say about any number of things. They say things like, I believe in public broadcasting, but I think you could do this or that better. They tell you, and that's great.
When you can go one on one with somebody who has some authority or power of influence that's pretty good, and we should do more of it.
tV: What other things do you do in your personal life to help other in need?
PM: I'm involved in a lot of different charities. Like a lot of people in public life I don't make a big deal of it: you just do it because it can help.
I'm chairman of a number of committees, an honorary chair of other committees that are all in some way trying to help the communities. I have a number of national sponsorships that I'm involved with that are mostly geared to the literacy front. I do a lot of work in this province (BC).
tV: What would you like to see others doing in terms of helping others, on a day to day basis?
PM: It does come down to caring about your fellow man and there are lots of ways to show that. I would hope that you'd continue doing that, and give your help where you can. Not everybody has time on their hands but a lot of people have money on their hands that they can be doing things with. It feels good when you do it.
I'm a pretty lucky guy with the job I've got and places I go and people I meet, and I don't forget where I came from: from roots that didn't have a lot. Now I live with certain comforts that a lot of people don;t have, so I use some of that to help others, as most Canadians do.
tV: Who has been one your most inspiring guests, or a story you've covered?
PM: The most memorable interviews are usually people you've never heard of before. They're ordinary people who have been caught in some extraordinary circumstance. It's how they react to that, how they describe that and the affect it's had on them. That has a huge impact on me.
I was covering the exodus of the boat people from Vietnam in the late 1970s Some of the stories I watched unfold in the South China Sea, when you hear them first hand you never forget.
Berlin when the wall came down. I was there that weekend and the stories of people reuniting after thirty years were pretty grabbing. Those kinds of things live with you forever and I wouldn't trade them for anything.
tV: Has anyone ever caught you by surprise? Have you ever gone into a story expecting to do one thing and had it change part way through?
PM: Lots of times. I always prepare for whatever I'm doing but I'm always prepared for the unexpected to happen. You look for those things that will surprise you. It makes a better story and it make a better interview. You want to be surprised.
tV: Who is your dream interview or dream story?
PM: Because I've been very lucky and have interviewed most everybody I've wanted to, I search back through history. The great interviews that I'd want to do, I can't, because the people are dead.
Either it would be Churchill or Christ or Mohammed, it could be any number of people that you would love to have that opportunity to talk to.
I just love to talk to people who have interesting stories to tell and ask them simple questions that usually turn out to be the ones that have the most interesting answers.
Fair is fair. I couldn't let Mansbridge go without getting his side of the story.
tV: One final question, and only because I asked him. Who would win in a fight, you or Stroumboulopoulos?
PM: (laughs) I've got too many years on him. It depends on what kind of a fight (laughs). A physical fight he would certainly take me out fairly quickly.
Listen, he's one of the brightest people in our business. I was partly responsible for getting him to come to the CBC. I actually put him on my interview show when most people in the CBC had never heard of him.
He's incredibly bright and a wonderful interviewer. He has a style that's his own. He doesn't copy anybody. His future is rock solid. There's nothing he couldn't do. He's very, very good and I have nothing but admiration for him. I'd like to think I could beat him at something, but I don't know what that is (laughs). He's a great guy.
WD: For the record, he said that you would win.
PM: (laughs) He's just sucking up (laughs).
. British Columbia has the worst child poverty rate in Canada. 20% of our children live below the poverty line. .There are now eighty-nine food banks in British Columbia collectively serving seventy thousand people each month. .The Greater Vancouver Food Bank offers food to 25,000 clients each week. 37% of food bank clients in British Columbia are children. .The Greater Vancouver Food Bank moves eight to ten million pounds of food through its warehouse each year. .Since December 2008 the number of people using food banks in BC has increased 15-20% .Every $1 raised by the Food Bank can buy $3 in food. .The average food bank in BC provides a client 3-5 days worth of food, once per month. The CBC Vancouver Broadcast Centre has raised funds for food banks around the province for the last 23 years. Last year, the event celebrated the opening of the newly designed building and raised more than $600,000 for local food banks, the majority of which were by individual donations.