Rick Mercer clearly doesn’t think much of last week's panda-monium.
The CBC comedian used his rant on Tuesday night to poke fun at Canada’s new furry visitors from China, the prime minister who somehow found time to greet them and the news media that provided ample coverage of a couple of bears in a box.
“By the looks of it the 21st century may be ours because, thanks to Stephen Harper, our country Canada, the true north strong and free, has pandas,” he said. “And not just any pandas — giant pandas from China. Well, they’re not our pandas. They’re rental pandas. But at ten million bucks, they are awesome.”
With his tongue planted firmly in cheek, Mercer complimented Harper for “clearing his schedule” to greet the pandas in person at Toronto’s Pearson International.
“The only time he’s done that before was for Obama and the Queen,” Mercer said. “And this is way cooler because unlike those two, the pandas may mate on Canadian soil.”
The CBC comedian even mocked his own network’s fawning over the furry visitors.
“And kudos to my friends at the CBC News Network for their exhaustive coverage because I’m too young to remember the moon landing or the end of the Second World War so it’s nice to know what those events must have felt like,” he said.
After admitting he too has a soft spot for cuddly vegetarians who purr when the PM scratches them — “but enough about John Baird” — the comedian took a dig at Harper’s suggestion that the animals will help us “learn more about one another and ourselves.”
“Namely we can forget federal responsibility for national debt, youth unemployment or the sorry state of aboriginal schools because: we got pandas,” he said.
The end of Mercer’s rant — and specifically the reference to aboriginal schools and youth — may be related to the accusation that Harper prioritized pandas over Cree youth last week.
While the PM was busy greeting the bears in Toronto, a group of about 270 young trekkers completed a 1,600 kilometre journey from Northern Quebec to Ottawa in support of Idle No More.
“The Journey of Nishiyuu” culminated on Parliament Hill, where the trekkers were greeted with cheers from supporters and handful of politicians, including Green party leader Elizabeth May and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.
“It says a lot that Stephen Harper isn't here, that he's greeting the pandas,'' said May. "It says a lot that we need to move heaven and earth to meet First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis with respect.''
Of course, the best panda-related joke from last week may belong to outgoing interim Liberal leader, Bob Rae.
“Maybe if the members who are unhappy dressed up like pandas the prime minister would pay them some attention,” he said.