The Canadian Construction Association's 94th Annual conference in Savannah, Georgia opened the week with a keynote address by CBC chief correspondent and "The National" anchor Peter Mansbridge entitled "Canada and Canadians in a Changing World."
Mansbridge began by recounting his years in broadcasting and some of the recent highlights of his career, including being the only Canadian journalist to interview President Barack Obama right after his inauguration.
Mansbridge explained he was often asked which interview of his was his favorite. He explained that some of his best interviews were with people who aren’t famous but are in many ways just as significant to him as interviews with presidents and prime ministers. In particular he pointed to interviews with the boat people of Vietnam in the late 1970s as a very personally significant moment in his life.
He also recalled meeting a boat person many years later whom had fulfilled her dream of becoming a Canadian citizen and furthermore had a child who jus tlast year was graduating on a scholarship.
Mansbridge said that family and many others had personally embraced change, and that while their story was intensely personal , the process of embracing change is similar for an industry such as construction.
Mansbridge pointed to significant changes in the television industry from the 500 channel universe to the rise of the Internet, and said that while he is not an expert, he has seen what worked and what didn’t, and that once you decide on a course of action to deal with change, everyone has to be on board. Furthermore is has to be a “bottom up” experience, where everyone in an organization participates at a fundamental level.
Some people will not like change and will not accept it, but you have to face that going into the process and work with it, he said.
Mansbridge concluded by recalling three separate stories that asked the question “What is a Canadian” and came back with the conclusion that the rest of the world seems to know us better than we know ourselves. Drawing from stories of Canadian nurses volunteering in Sri Lanka, World War II celebrations in the Netherlands where Canadian servicemen were celebrated for liberating the country from Nazi tyranny, and a Canadian woman in Afghanistan explaining to Afghan women what rights they now held with a new Afghani constitution. This woman was born in Afghanistan, emigrated to Canada and became a citizen, but before beginning her own career in Canada she decided to let Afghani women know what living in a truly free society can be like.
Mansbridge said that we can take away from these stories that volunteers, veterans and new Canadians let him answer the question “What is a Canadian?”, and the answer is “someone who cares.”
Mansbridge said the Canadian construction industry is no different, given that they raise money and apply expertise when it matters, and that the discussions that will take place this week at root will affect many people but will also show that the industry cares.
JOC DIGITAL MEDIA