In this stunning, previously unreleased segment from The National, the flagship news program of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), we discover just how far award-winning anchor Peter Mansbridge will go to expose hard tourism truths about Victoria, the "City of Gardens."
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Good evening. Even in a time of international turmoil, Canadians sometimes take for granted the comfortable lifestyle we enjoy in this country. But a widening regional conflict is underway in Victoria. The British Columbia capital is divided into 13 rival municipalities, and the war for tourism dollars is on. We begin this special report with the CBC's Adrienne Arsenault in Vic West.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Peter, I'm standing outside Spinnakers, Canada's oldest brewpub. It's controlled by the insurgents who started B.C.'s craft beer revolution back in 1984. We have eyewitness accounts of seniors, civil servants, and students drinking acclaimed beers like Tour de Victoria Kolsch and Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale. There's a great view of the Inner Harbour, fresh local food, and even beer and chocolate pairings. I'm going for a drink now.
MANSBRIDGE: Uh, cheers, Adrienne. We go now to the CBC's Ian Hanomansing in Oak Bay.
IAN HANOMANSING: Peter, tensions are escalating on the ground at this hour. So I'm reporting from a top-floor, ocean-facing boutique suite at the recently re-opened Oak Bay Beach Hotel. I'm reclining on a king-sized bed in my white bathrobe.
MANSBRIDGE: Yes, I can see that, Ian.
HANOMANSING: I look especially handsome tonight as I've just come from the on-site Boathouse Spa. After my organic seaweed facial and gentleman's pedicure, I took a dip in the heated outdoor mineral pools. Next, I plan to win another Gemini Award by investigating the hotel's David Foster Foundation Theatre. It shows propaganda films like Cinderella and Love Actually, and also does dinner shows. By the way, great job, Peter. Sorry about the snow in Toronto.
MANSBRIDGE: Thanks, Ian. My voice is still sexier than yours. To the CBC's Terry Milewski in Central Saanich.
TERRY MILEWSKI: Peter, if there's one place Victorians associate with bitter ethnic clashes, it's the infamous Butchart Gardens. Sources tell CBC News there's a bamboo boar-scarer in a pond in the Japanese Garden and a bronze statue of Mercury in the Italian Garden. Don't be fooled by this century-old institution's reputation as a tranquil National Historic Site with concerts and fireworks in the summer. The crisis is mounting, as it's overrun by more than a million visitors each year.
MANSBRIDGE: Terry, I think you deserve Ian's Gemini. Meanwhile, on the streets of downtown Victoria, our political correspondents Paul Hunter and Neil MacDonald take us deeper into the heart of the conflict.
PAUL HUNTER: Hey, Peter! Neil and I were just arguing about where to go for dinner.
HUNTER: Too conservative. I wanted to head to Fort Street and try the grilled kale and ratatouille at Little Jumbo, plus their brand-new selection of innovative cocktails.
MANSBRIDGE: So...any resolution in sight?
HUNTER AND MACDONALD: Spinnakers.
MANSBRIDGE: We turn now to the At Issue panel with Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry and Ron MacLean. Don, first, your thoughts on Victoria Royals coach Dave Lowry leading Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship. Wait! Breaking news. The CBC's Nahlah Ayed joins us by phone.
DON CHERRY [shouting]: Hey, hey! Dave Lowry! Good Canadian kid. And, how ‘bout that Jamie Benn? Defending NHL scoring champ. Victoria boy too.
RON MACLEAN: You make a good point, Don -
MANSBRIDGE: Nahlah, can you hear me? I can't hear you.
NAHLAH AYED: Peter, all day I've been investigating what makes Victoria so radical. I visited the Western Communities, where militant groups - like families with children aged five and up - are training at Adrena LINE Zipline Adventures. I zoomed over the forested hills of Sooke at close to 60 kilometres an hour. Later, to get in touch with the intelligentsia, I dug through two of Canada's best independent bookstores: Munro's Books, founded by the husband of Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro, and Russell Books, with more than 16,000 square feet of used and rare books. But at last, I've discovered the greatest threat to this region.
MANSBRIDGE: What's that splashing noise in the background?
AYED: As we speak, Victoria is surrounded - by the Pacific Ocean. And it's exploding with marine life. I'm on an open-air zodiac boat operated by Prince of Whales Whale Watching. The waters around Victoria are home to three resident pods of orca whales. On my tour, we've also spotted cormorants, bald eagles, and California sea lions. Look out! Here come the harbour seals!
AYED: They're everywhere! Everywhere! [static]
MANSBRIDGE: Well, that's enough for tonight. For more information on this city on the edge of Western Canada, contact Tourism Victoria. I'm outta here. Off to Victoria!
About the Author: Lucas Aykroyd
Lucas Aykroyd is an award-winning Vancouver travel writer and public speaker. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and National Geographic Traveler. To engage his services, visitlucasaykroyd.com.
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