Maybe it’s his voice — rich and caring, but reassuring.
Perhaps it’s the way he looks at us straight in the eye— steadfast, sincere and not shedding a tear, while knowing we’re all weeping and feeling our grief.
Perhaps it’s that he has been with us, several times before, during the darkest hours of Canada to inform, to describe — but also to comfort.
Tuesday, Peter Mansbridge was there for us again.
The chief correspondent for CBC News anchored the network’s coverage of the funerals for three RCMP officers who were shot and killed last week: Const Dave Ross, Const. Douglas Larche and Const. Fabrice Gevaudan.
He did so, eerily familiar of March 2005 when he traveled to Edmonton to provide live coverage of a memorial service for four RCMP officers. Ten days earlier that terrible afternoon in a farmyard near Mayerthrope — the worst day in RCMP history — unfolded. Four were shot and killed Const. Peter Schiemann, Const. Anthony Gordon, Const. Lionide Johnston and Const. Brock Myrol .
It was new territory for Canadians, a dominion anguish we felt like never before.
Peter’s demeanour — grace and compassion — gently guided us through the service from Moncton. Never, we told ourselves, would we experience that sorrow and sense of helpless feeling again.
Today, just over nine years later, we are.
I watched the service from Moncton on-line on cbc.ca. I am touched by the loss as I am sure hundreds of thousands of Canadians are.
The images were of insurmountable grief: there are no words.
But Peter’s voice — sometimes just a few words in between several minutes of silence — gave me comfort. Personally, I felt my sorrow was shared by others.
Funerals and memorial services are never easy to attend — or, watch. But when we’re met by a familiar voice we perhaps don’t feel so wretched.
I felt the same way in April of 2008 when my mother died and called Murray Baron at Westlawn Funeral Home. Murray arranged my father’s funeral in April of 2007, and, once I heard his voice, I felt a sense of comfort.
I thanked him for that.
And, now today when Canadians mourn, I’m compelled to thank Peter Mansbridge for doing the same.