The baggage handler clicked down on the microphone button in the Churchill airport.

The baggage handler clicked down on the microphone button in the Churchill airport.

"Transair Flight 106 for Thompson, The Pas and Winnipeg is now ready for boarding at Gate 1."

In this 1996 photo, Peter Mansbridge (left) and then-prime minister Jean Chrétien prepare to start a televised taping in Ottawa.</p>

FRED CHARTRAND / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

In this 1996 photo, Peter Mansbridge (left) and then-prime minister Jean Chrétien prepare to start a televised taping in Ottawa.

As he finished the announcement, the baggage handler could see a man walking across the room towards him.

"You have a really good voice," the man said. "Have you ever thought of being in radio?"

As many Canadians already know, the baggage handler was Peter Mansbridge and the rest is history — his and ours.

Have you ever wanted to have coffee or a beer with the longtime anchor of CBC-TV’s The National? Reading Off the Record is the next best thing.

Mansbridge’s third book is a breeze, with bite-size chapters written in conversational style.

The 73-year-old Mansbridge, who now hosts a daily podcast called The Bridge and the occasional documentary, didn’t finish high school or start university, but rose to the top of the profession he fell into through hard work, good luck and possessing what he calls an indefinable "it" — the quality of trust engendered by how well a TV journalist resonates with the audience.

He has been a witness to history: Standing beside the Berlin Wall as it was being smashed apart (and keeping a piece); covering the funeral of Princess Diana from the same spot in front of Buckingham Palace from which he had covered her wedding.

Mansbridge shares his favourite on-air bloopers, including this gem when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister and out of the country when the Supreme Court made a significant constitutional decision.

"The prime minister is on the other side of the world in Seoul, South Korea, where it’s thirteen hours ahead of us. Trudeau is in bed right now, but our David Halton is with him. David?"

Some stories are genuinely moving.

A young girl in Sri Lanka tells him "Ca-na-da" is good because three Canadian nurses flew there immediately after a tsunami to vaccinate victims against waterborne diseases.

Chris Young / The Canadian Press files</p><p>Mansbridge, seen here in 2018, now hosts a daily podcast called The Bridge.</p>

Chris Young / The Canadian Press files

Mansbridge, seen here in 2018, now hosts a daily podcast called The Bridge.

A Vietnamese mother in a Hong Kong refugee camp thrusts her baby into Mansbridge’s arms in a desperate attempt to give the child a better life, and Mansbridge has to hand the baby back.

Full disclosure: I met Mansbridge when we were both rookie journalists in the early 1970s, and he never forgot.

When I was journalism instructor at Red River College 20 years later, Mansbridge spoke to my students four times in seven years, telling the students they were lucky to have me.

I’m forever grateful and would like to end this review there.

But I wouldn’t be true to the journalism ethic we both believe in if I didn’t point out two glaring omissions in this memoir, both having to do with Wendy Mesley.

The CBC journalist is seen in a newsroom photo, and Mansbridge credits her with helping him to create the regular political panel At Issue.

But Mansbridge does not mention that the two were married for three years, working together on the air before, during and after the marriage. Readers might have been interested in some of that behind-the-scenes dynamic.

Worse, Mansbridge does not mention Mesley’s recent "retirement" from the CBC.

In a cry from the heart published in the Globe and Mail in early July, Mesley apologized for using the full version of the n-word twice in story meetings.

She argued her mistake should be weighed against her entire career of tough, investigative reporting, breaking ground for women in journalism, fighting cancer publicly and encouraging others to do the same.

Mesley spoke to many community groups, including Red River College journalism students.

Even though Mansbridge spends his longest chapter contemplating the current state of journalism, he does not write one word about the controversy that ended the career of his longtime colleague and one-time wife.

Journalists having frank story meetings about what should and should not go to air are fundamental to the integrity of TV journalism, Mansbridge writes early on, giving many specific examples in the book.

How can he ignore the important issues raised by the Mesley case? Was her use of one objectionable word in two story meetings a justifiable reason for the CBC to sack her?

If Mansbridge made a deal with Mesley to keep their marriage and her controversy out of the book, or the process was still unfolding as he went to press, he should at least have acknowledged that to readers.

If that’s not the case, he owes it to her — and us — to tell us what he really thinks.Donald Benham is a freelance writer, former journalism instructor and summer reporter at CJOB, 1972.