On Sunday I got the chance to have a brief chat with somebody I have been watching on TV since I was 10 years old.
CBC mainstay Rick Mercer came to Penticton to feature the Black Widow Rope Spinners on the Rick Mercer Report, featured in the article Rick Mercer skips into town in the last issue of the Western News and I was fortunate enough to have the chance to ask him a few questions.
The 10-year-old me curled up next to the static-covered TV screen watching This Hour Has 22 Minutes would have been blown away.
Mercer is a well-known, and self-described “political junkie,” and with an upcoming federal election that Prime Minister Stephen Harper could call at any moment, I couldn’t help but ask for his thoughts on the future of our country. After he politely brushed aside my joke about how he and Rob Lowe haven’t aged in 10 years, we got down to business.
“I look forward to any election year. We were spoiled for awhile with minority governments falling left, right and centre so it’s been a long time since we’ve had one,” Mercer said.
I asked him how election time goes over for him and his production crew and whether it was busier than usual for the show.
“All I can do is respond to events as they happen. So there’s no real prep for an election. If it happens when I’m not on the air, I’ll figure out some way to convince a news outlet to put me on a plane so I can get up close, I’ve done that for the last few elections,” Mercer said.
However, he thinks it’s unlikely the election will take place on the current tentative date of Oct. 19.
“Nobody knows when this election is going to be called. Stephen Harper insists he’s not calling it early and based on his track record that is a good indication he probably will call it early,” Mercer said.
I asked him whether he felt there was going to be a cultural shift in Canadian politics with this election, I was essentially getting at whether or not he thought the Conservatives could hold on to the majority.
“Everyone in this election is going to try and defy history. Stephen Harper, if you look at the history books, it shouldn’t be in his favour, but yet he could certainly win. Justin Trudeau is going to try and form a government, and the third party leader has never formed a government, I don’t believe,” Mercer said.
As far as I can tell, he was right about the third party never forming a government, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Liberals could grab that many seats, but everything seems possible in that pre-election, anything-can-happen mentality. It may be more likely that the Liberals will possibly oust the opposition NDP.
“Obviously Tom Mulcair is trying to form a government, that would defy history because the NDP has never done that. It’s weird, all of them are long shots if you pay attention to the past,” Mercer said.
No matter which political affiliation you side with, if any, Mercer has one political issue in this election that for him rises above any other.
“The one shift I would like to see is for people to get involved and just go out and bloody vote because the level of complacency in the country when it comes to these things is very unfortunate and it’s even more unfortunate when you realize that the parties in power, they like it that way,” Mercer said.
It’s a simple message that is hard to argue with. I often hear, especially from people my age, that they don’t know who they are voting for, and because of this it’s actually more dangerous to vote blind.
Long story short, they don’t vote.
Well, now’s the time to do some brushing up. Think about what issues are important to you and find out where the current leadership stands, it has literally never been easier with Google at our finger tips. You can find out where your representative stands, and how you’re being represented nationally while on your phone waiting for the bus.
Now’s the time to do some minimal homework that will help shape the future of the country.
“I don’t care who you vote for, just vote,” Mercer said.
It’s hard to disagree.
Dale Boyd is the arts and entertainment editor for the Penticton Western News