It's an insight many of us grow up with, and can seem at times commonplace, but Canada is such a vast place - and not just geographically, but culturally as well. From St. John's, to Winnipeg, up to Iqaluit, we as citizens inhabit such an incredible diversity of regions, each with its own distinct culture, issues, and concerns, that there are relatively few things in our day-to-day lives to prompt us to consider issues from a Canadian perspective, instead of merely from our regional standpoints.
And seen in this light, it becomes clear that the CBC is one of the rare venues we have as a country where we can have national conversations between our disparate parts - where we can discuss matters confronting us as Canadians through a Canadian lens.
So a cultural institution as important as the CBC is more than simply another venue for news or entertainment - or at least it should be. Rather, it does something bigger, more profound. It creates a sense of community, it connects us to one another as citizens, examines issues of public interest. Indeed, it's worth considering - if it weren't for the CBC, and a handful of other national cultural institutions, what would Canada be in any sense richer than a name and a border? As Claire and Farley Mowat recently put it in a letter to The Globe and Mail "The CBC is one of the few remaining public bastions of our independence as a nation and as a people."
The Current is the most listened to CBC radio program by Canadians, and each weekday morning from 8:30 to 10 am, from coast-to-coast-to-coast, throughout the six time zones, The Current delves into the issues and debates of the day- from pipelines and budgets, to world conflicts.
Since it was created in 2002, replacing, along with Sounds Like Canada, the three hour program This Morning, The Current has been hosted by veteran journalist Anna Maria Tremonti. Before coming to The Current, Anna Maria spent years as a national and foreign correspondent for the CBC, and reported from around the country and around the world.
It's one of the most important programs in the country, and in her over 10 years on the air as the host of The Current, Anna Maria has interviewed many of the most prominent and influential voices of our time - they include whistle-blowers, prime-ministers, artists, authors and activists - everyone from Kurt Vonnegut to Jean Chretain.
Recently I had the chance to wake up at the crack of dawn, and head down to CBC broadcast centre in Toronto myself to watch behind-the-scenes as an episode of The Current went to air. Afterwards, I sat down with Anna Maria Tremonti to ask her to how she prepares for the show each day, her thoughts on the challenges facing journalism, and some of the memorable moments she's had in her over 10 years as host of perhaps the most influential current affairs program in Canada.
Listen to our conversation below, and many thanks to CBC's Nima Shams for recording the interview.