Today’s graduates will have to be smarter and more flexible than any generation before, CBC Television News chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge said Tuesday at York’s Spring 2011 Convocation ceremony.
“You’ll have to be willing to change jobs, change employers, change your skill set, possibly,” said Mansbridge, who received an honorary doctor of laws degree from York at the ceremony for students graduating from York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. “Frankly, I can barely imagine what your life will be like in 20 or 30 years. But I know this. I know that you are up to the challenge.”
Left: Peter Mansbridge, CBC Television broadcaster, received an honorary doctorate of laws from York during Tuesday’s Spring 2011 Convocation ceremony
Some grads will be written up in history books, he said, although all the good they will accomplish in their future could never be crammed into a 140-character tweet. And he made the point by trying to fit some of his acceptance speech into 140 characters, to no avail. “So you can see the challenge of trying to put meaning in just 140 characters,” said Mansbridge, anchor of CBC’s The National.
The advent of Twitter and Facebook, which provide instant communication across national borders, “has made our world move incredibly fast; faster than anyone could have imagined not too long ago.”
Faster is better in many ways, he said, whereas “slowness carries a price.” He noted that during the Jan. 8, 1815 Battle of New Orleans, when the War of 1812 raged between Canada and the United States, more than 350 men were killed even though a treaty had been signed 16 days before in Belgium, ending the war. “News travelled so slowly in those days, no one on this side of the ocean knew anything about peace until sometime in February.”
Right: Two veterans watch as Peter Mansbridge delivers his speech at their granddaughter’s convocation ceremony
He told graduands their world, in contrast, moves so quickly that they “may find it hard to find time for things like thinking, reflecting, considering…For just as slowness carries a price, so too does speed.”
But speed is relative. Going back 100 years, Mansbridge pointed out how quickly things moved even then. In the decade before 1911, the population increased by 33 per cent, “the greatest rise in any decade before or since.” Some 331,000 immigrants arrived in 1911, more than Canada expects to absorb this year with a population almost five times as great. At the same time, the speed limit for cars in cities was 13 kilometres an hour and on the highways 15 kilometres. Much has changed since then.
“Change has always been part of being Canadian and…every generation believes its challenges are the greatest in history. In reality, no generation has an easy path to success,” said Mansbridge. But he believes Canadians have always been up for a challenge. Take the university class of 1911, they “would face a world war just three years later. Then they went through the Great Depression. Later in life, another world war. Through all that, they managed to build the country that we are all so blessed to live in today.”
Left: Peter Mansbridge receives his honorary doctorate from President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri
He told graduands to follow their hearts, their instincts, know what they believe in and work for it.
An officer of the Order of Canada, Mansbridge has received 12 Gemini Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism, including nine for Best Anchor, and two Gordon Sinclair Awards as Best Overall Broadcast Journalist. He was also awarded the gold medal for Best News Anchor at the 2000 New York Festival in a competition of television networks around the world.