I first saw the magnificent three-part documentary series “The Champions” when I was in journalism school in Ottawa. It stood far apart from any other Canadian journalism I had seen, heard, or read up to that point. Master documentarian Donald Brittain illuminated recent Canadian history in a way that was not only informative but also dramatic and amusing. It brought alive the often overlooked parts of our nation’s history and its players, allowing me to see Canada as more than a dull little nation that had no drama or excitement. It taught me about more than politics; as a journalist-in-training it showed me the power of storytelling. When I became a political journalist covering Parliament, I tried to emulate that style of sharp, pointed analysis, of creating valuable context, of carefully crafted phrases and vibrant images. I am certain I never lived up to Brittain’s standards but just reaching for them made me a better journalist.
Written and directed by Donald Brittain National Film Board of Canada, 1978