Ben Mulroney is now officially one of the busiest, hardest working people in Canada. The long-time etalk anchor started his new gig last week, as the co-host of CTV’s Your Morning, and now he’s balancing two demanding broadcast jobs and manoeuvring through an 11-hour work day. “I’m having close to four-and-a-half cups of coffee a day,” he says. “But I’m frontloading my day with it, so then I start coasting after that. By the time I hit noon, I’ve diluted all of that caffeine and most of it is water.”
While Mulroney is used to pulling double duty (he used to host Canadian Idol along with etalk), this time around, he is a father and husband. He’s about to celebrate his 8th wedding anniversary with fashion designer and stylist Jessica Brownstein. The couple has three children: fraternal twins Brian and John, 6; and Isabel, 3.
24 Hours sat down with the Montreal-born, Ottawa-raised TV personality to find out how he’s juggling life and two paycheques; if he’ll go into politics; and how he snagged an interview with the PM:
DAYTIME TALK HEAVEN
There’s nothing like it at all, at any other time of the day. You can really touch on so many different subjects. You can cook in one segment, talk to a politician in the next. You can’t do that anywhere else. So I love being able to hop from world to world.
The key that I’ve noticed is perpetual motion. Really, the key for me is not to get on my bed until it’s time to go to bed. I used to be able to come home from work and watch TV or read a book on my bed, but now it’s such a comfortable place. For me, it means my body has stopped. And once I lie down, I can watch TV for 20-30 minutes, but I’m already downshifting into sleep.
SOBERING SLEEPING SECRET
I was using this week as a test to see how far I could get with the sleep I’m getting. And it’s been good. I’ve been falling asleep anywhere between 9:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. this week, but getting up at 3 a.m. with no trouble every day. I think the issue for a lot of people is if they socialize during the week and have more than a glass of wine or a cocktail. If you have anything more than that, you’re messing up the chemistry in your body, to the point that the short amount of sleep you have isn’t enough. And I haven’t found that yet.
MOURNING AND HONOURING
Most of our producers come from Canada A.M. The legacy of Canada A.M. belongs to CTV. It doesn’t belong to any other network. You’re not going to hear anybody at any of the other networks speak of it with the reverence that we have for it, because they were competing with it. They were trying to do something different. We get to own that. I learned a lot from Marci [Ien], Bev [Thomson], Seamus [O’Regan], Rod Black and Lisa LaFlamme. These are all people that I consider peers and colleagues and friends. It’s that admiration that I have, and it’s the lessons that I take from the time I spent with them, that I hope to carry on in this show. I hope you’re going to feel a link between the two shows.
THE TRUDEAU ‘GET’
When I knew that I was going to be one of the co-hosts of this show, I sat down with my father [former prime minister Brian Mulroney]. And then I obviously I brought the team into it, and I said, ‘Look, if I have any say on the first interview, I need it to be Justin Trudeau. I will work tirelessly to get this interview.’ Once I got the green light, I pursued it doggedly. I wanted to show people at home – who had a pre-conceived idea of me – that they judged too soon. And that if you took a transcript of the questions that I asked, you could not accuse me of serving him up softballs.
FUTURE IN POLITICS
I’ve never felt the pull of being a professional politician. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have strong political opinions. To me, it’s not a prize. There’s great sacrifice that comes with going into politics. I admire people who give up their privacy and earning potential to go be in the service of the public, regardless of their party affiliation… But I saw the negative side of politics. I saw the sacrifices that my family made, and I saw a certain level of mistreatment – by the press, by opposition members – and I didn’t see a prize worth pursuing.