tV: So how has this new role in Vancouver changed your life?
AC: It's such a huge change. I'm from Montreal and I'd been there for ten years working in the CBC newsroom. To just make the shift to move out west was a big deal. Doing it while raising a two-month-old daughter has been a pretty interesting experience because trying to do anything takes three times as long. As far as touching down in Vancouver, that's been really amazing. On a personal level, it almost seems like this city was built for me. My wife and I both run, hike, and camp. We go canoeing a lot and during the winter we snowboard so I can't wait to go up to Grouse, or Whistler, or Blackcomb, which are a lot bigger than what I'm used to in Quebec (laughs).
tV: Don't hurt yourself.
AC: (laughs) Yah, that would make a nice first day: going up the hill and coming back in a neck brace or full body cast.
Vancouver has been amazing and the newsroom here is so warm and welcoming. And it's been busy pretty much right from the time I got here. Day one was the grand tour and I met around 6000 people: or at least it felt that way.
Very quickly we got down to the business of figuring out what the newscast was going to look like come September 1st, which is my first official on-air day. There are some pretty big changes that are quite exciting. Despite the fact that I've been living in Montreal so long, I've been involved in the editorial process of the planning of the show right from the ground floor. We've been figuring out how all the pieces are going to go and how we're going to use the sets, because that is going to go through a complete overhaul. We have a whole bunch of new equipment for which we're figuring out the placement. We have a new steady-cam, which completely changes the way the newscast is shot and completely changes the experience for the viewer. You can literally be anywhere you want inside that studio so it's pretty exciting to be able to map out how it's going to look.
tV: Are you going to be choreographing the steady-cam?
AC: Today was the second day of our rehearsal. We've been blocking out different shots and different ideas. We have some really brilliant minds behind the camera figuring out what works and what doesn't because it's so finicky. The lighting has to be just right and one of the things that I've been pushing for is as much transparency as possible: I love the idea of showing the whole set and not just the one interview location that we have set up. I want to show people everything. Making that a reality has probably been taxing for a lot of the technical guys who work behind the scenes to make sure the lighting and the angles and the cameras are all lining up. It's been a process (laughs) but we're muffling our way through it. It's fun.
tV: Why Vancouver, say as opposed to somewhere closer like Toronto or Ottawa?
AC: There are a few reasons. The opportunity was here. Vancouver came knocking, so that was certainly one of the options that was on the table. For a long time I've been considering other cities but Vancouver was such an interesting opportunity for a few reasons: the city alone is amazing. I haven't been here all that long but already, with what I've been able to experience with North Van, Richmond, Granville Island, the water front, it's been amazing. The Grouse grind is on my list of things to do.
tV: There is also another, more beautiful way up the mountain if you hike up around the back.
AC: I also have family out here: an aunt and and uncle and a few cousins who live about ten minutes from here. You know, Montreal was a really great city and I could very easily have seen myself living my life there. My wife and I talked about raising a family there and are both fluently bilingual, and that's how we intend to raise our daughter, so it was a really tough choice. My career started in Montreal and I owe everything to that newsroom.
For the longest time at CBC I never held a job for more than eight months. I started as an election logger and from there I went on to research. A few months late I started reporting, both for radio and for television, and from there I went to working on the different shows and became a video journalist so I could do my own shooting and editing. It wasn't until I started anchoring in Montreal that I actually held a job for longer than a year (laughs). So I also felt like it was time for a change. I think I'm at my best when I'm a little off balance and that turns out to be a great asset when you're in this business. There have been many shows that I've done where something's gone wrong or something completely unexpected has happened. Breaking news happens all the time, like during the provincial elections in 2012 in Quebec, and the attempted assassination of Marois who was the victor that night. That was such a wild ride.
tV: How do you think that reporting the news here is going to differ in the biggest way?
AC: In Montreal there are a lot of issues that surround language, that occupy a lot of the newsreels but most of the issues transcend the country. I spent ten years becoming a damned good journalist. I have interviewed the best of them. I've gone through so many live, breaking news situations. I understand the importance of the facts and how important it is to get to the bottom of the story and explain to people why things are happening so that it actually means something to them at the end of the day. That is what I try to be good at and I have no doubt I can do that here, and I'm looking forward to the challenge. I think it will be very different.
tV: Where do you see the CBC in the next five years, in terms of all the change that's happening?
AC: There are a lot of changes going on right now as you know, some of them more difficult than others. I think that a lot of the challenges that CBC is going through right now, many other networks are going through as well. I'm talking about how technology is changing and how audiences are demanding their news. They can get it anywhere, anytime, anyplace. They can also interact with you at their leisure and discretion. To me, all of that is such a huge opportunity. For people to reach out to me and vice versa, instantly on social media, is so easy.
What I hope stays the same is the core reason we're all here: to tell strong, compelling, informative stories.
Resources is another issue that networks are dealing with: the tightening of the belt, if you can call it that. I worked in Sochi during the 2014 Olympics and what CBC was able to accomplish there was a really good example of where everything was going. The producers were in Toronto and all our communication was done via Skype, and while I was on air we had that link. Everything went off without a hitch.
People often ask me if I have one area that I'd like to be more focused on, but the truth of the matter is I actually tell them, “No.” It's my job to be as adept and as curious as possible about everything that happens. That's the nature of our newscast as well. We don't limit ourselves to just politics, just business, or economics, or housing, or transit. All of that goes into this city and that is what we reflect in the newscast. I love everything (laughs) but you kind of have to when you cover the range and diversity of stories that we cover here. There's so much for me to look forward to.
tV: What are you going to explore next in Vancouver?
AC: The Grouse grind is the next thing (laughs). All the people who have done it before are cringing; their knees are still aching from climbing those stairs. How many stair are there anyway?
tV: I have no idea, I just know I hate every one of them. It takes roughly an hour, depending on your aptitude, but seriously, there is a back way up that mountain that is much more beautiful.
AC: (laughs) I'll keep that in mind. If I get half way up and say, “ah” then maybe I'll turn things around. After that I want to check out the Richmond Night Market. When the winter rolls around I'm going to get up to Cypress and Grouse and the surrounding areas and see if my board can stand up to the snow here.
tV: Winter is Coming, but I doubt it will be as intense as you're probably used to.
AC: So I've been told. When we were moving here from Montreal, among all the things that I was packing, I had two snow shovels. The guy who was moving our stuff looked at me and said, “You're not going to need these in Vancouver.” I said, “Well, just in case. You never know,” and he just laughed at me the whole time. We'll see come winter.