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photo courtesy Rick Mercer

Rick Mercer continues to

encourage the youth vote

RICK MERCER, A Canadian comedian, producer, and an avid advocate of the youth vote is at it again. In an interview with the Fulcrum, Mercer gave his thoughts on student voting, the upcoming election, and the issues at hand.

“It’s a consistent message that I’ve always been shouting into the wind: That everyone should vote,” said Mercer. “That includes young people.”

“More importantly, young people should be aware of the fact that not only [do] they vote in low numbers, but that political parties, at best, pay lip service to encourage young people to vote and they’re all guilty of being happy when they don’t vote.”

Mercer said there are consequences to students not voting, as politicians tend to ignore those who don’t cast a ballot.

“There’s so many issues that are affecting young people that are not getting the attention they deserve because the vast people involved in politics aren’t university students, so [the politicians] don’t care.”

“The second that young voters start to get engaged and vote in great numbers, you’re going to see a cataclysmic shift in provincial politics and federal politics because suddenly they’ll pay attention to [students].”

According to Mercer, Canadians often have many options when it comes to political parties. Those choices are often very different, accommodating a wide variety of political views.

“If someone says that there’s no difference between [party] A and [party] B, they’re simply wrong. It’s like arguing that apples and oranges are the same thing,” said Mercer.

He acknowledges there are ways in which politicians are alike even though they stand for different things. Many are guilty of oversimplifying complex issues, which is a tactic voters should be on the lookout for.

“At election time, people like to convince everyone that there are simple solutions to complicated problems. We would never believe someone who says, ‘Oh, I have a real simple solution to a very complicated health problem.’ We just know that’s not the way the world works,” said Mercer. “Usually, there’s complicated solutions to complicated problems.”

Mercer said that’s why students should research the issues that matter to them and cast a well-informed ballot. The election and its participants should be followed closely, even if reading the coverage can sometimes be boring.

“There’s always going to be people that say [the election] is boring. Well, sometimes the important things in life are boring,” said Mercer.

However, he does not think that’s the case for the Oct. 6 election.

“I don’t think this election is boring. You have two parties who are essentially tied in the polls, there’s a very good chance there could be a change of government. It’s not like someone is scripting it to make it more interesting.”

Political participation remains one of Mercer’s most consistent pleas; he believes this is the easiest and most effective way to bring youth issues to light is to cast a ballot on Oct. 6.

“Young people are not on the agenda. They think that they are, but they’re not,” said Mercer.

“At the end of the day, the decisions are made by the voters. If you don’t show up on election day, they’ll continue to ignore the needs of students. That’s how the system works.”

—Jane Lytvynenko