"I don't care what party's in power or who the prime minister is," he said in a rant Tuesday night. "But when you have a leader of a party that refuses to provide a straight answer to a straight question about something that happened on their watch, then it's time for that party to find a leader who will."
The CBC comedian bemoaned how sad a spectacle question period has become in light of all the betrayal and intrigue in Ottawa these days. Mercer said he hoped that with so many Canadians now taking a closer look, members of Parliament may try harder to raise the level of debate.
No such luck, he said.
"It's like they all got together and decided to intentionally ensure nobody would ever watch ever again. It's called question period. MPs get to stand up and ask the government questions and they're supposed to get answers," Mercer said. "It's there because a long time ago we decided it's an improvement over sword fights and dueling. But it is broken and it needs to be fixed."
And while Mercer didn't name Harper directly, it's clear he thinks the top Tory is dodging legitimate questions about the Senate expense scandal, to the apparent delight of Conservative MPs.
"Now when the prime minister avoids a question, his caucus leaps to their feet and they start cheering like little girls at a Justin Bieber mall appearance," he said.
But fear not: the comedian has a suggestion on how to fix things.
Mercer said that when the PM is asked a question — like, say, "when you said that nobody in your office was aware of the secret payment to the senator, were you telling the truth, yes or no?" — Harper must answer. If he doesn't — or if starts talking about something like a trade deal instead — a buzzer goes off and big X appears on the screen.
"I know, it's not very elegant but it's better than the system we have now," he said.
Mercer isn't the only Canadian who has been left disappointed by question period since the return of Parliament.
Last week, Tory MP Paul Calandra, the new parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, gave an answer that probably was worthy of Mercer's buzzer.
Calandra was asked by NDP MP Charlie Angus how many lawyers from the Prime Minister's Office were involved in setting up the secret deal with Senator Mike Duffy.
But instead of addressing that query, Calandra decided to express just how happy he is to be a Tory.
"Thank goodness Canadians elected a strong, stable, national Conservative majority government, led by the best prime minister in the world, flanked by a minister of finance who has won awards, with the strongest cabinet in Canadian history and Conservative members of Parliament working all over the country to hope for hope, jobs and economic prosperity," he said.
National Post columnist Andrew Coyne called it the "most complete non-answer" in the history of question period.
See the exchange for yourself below.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, question period, Feb. 13
"In terms of Sen. Wallin, I have looked at the numbers. Her travel costs are comparable to any parliamentarian travelling from that particular area of the country over that period of time. For instance, last year Sen. Wallin spent almost half of her time in the province she represents in the Senate. The costs are to travel to and from that province, as any similar parliamentarian would do."
Wallin speaking Wednesday in her own defence
"By throwing a member of this Senate under the bus, finding her guilty without a fair hearing such as any other Canadian could expect — a right guaranteed us by the charter — to proceed without the evidence having been adduced and considered on which the charge in the motion is based, is a fundamental affront to Canadian democracy and makes a mockery of this chamber. This charade is supposedly about preserving the reputation of this place, but the real intent is to remove a perceived liability — namely, me."
Harper on Wallin's expenses, question period, Feb. 14
"The senator and all other senators and members of the House are fully prepared and committed to have an examination of expenses to ensure that they are appropriate. That is the commitment the government has made in both chambers, a commitment we will keep."
Harper in question period on May 28 on when he learned that former chief of staff Nigel Wright personally wrote a $90,000 cheque to cover Sen. Mike Duffy's expenses
"Mr. Speaker, I have been very clear on this question. This matter came to my attention two weeks ago, after speculation appeared in the media. On Wednesday, May 15, I was told about it. At that very moment, I demanded that my office ensure that the public was informed, and it was informed appropriately."
Duffy in the Senate on Oct. 22
"I made one last effort. I said: 'I don't believe I owe anything, and besides which, I don't have $90,000.' 'Don't worry,' Nigel said. 'I'll write the cheque.'"
Harper in question period, May 28
"As I have said repeatedly, my first knowledge of this was on the date and at the time indicated. Prior to that point in time, it was my understanding that Mr. Duffy had paid back his own expenses."
Harper in question period, May 28
"If the leader of the NDP is suggesting I had any information to the contrary from Mr. Wright prior to this, that is completely false. I learned of this on May 15 and immediately made this information public, as I have said many times."
Harper in question period, June 4
"Mr. Speaker, that information was already made public on Feb. 13, and I have been very clear about this. Mr. Duffy approached me after a caucus meeting to discuss this matter. From the beginning, my position has been clear: any inappropriate expenses should be refunded to taxpayers by the senators concerned."
Duffy in his Oct. 22 Senate speech
"I've violated no laws, I've followed the rules."
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in question period June 4
"Mr. Speaker, why then did the Prime Minister, last week, deny instructing any members of his personnel to settle the Mike Duffy matter when he gave that order with that personnel present in the room at a caucus meeting in February of this year?"
Harper, in reply to Mulcair in question period June 4
"Mr. Speaker, it was my view from the beginning that any inappropriate expenses by any senator should be repaid by the senator, not by somebody else. That was very clear. Those are the facts obviously before us. As I say, my statements on this matter have been very clear and very consistent."
Harper in question period June 5 explaining his meeting with Duffy
"Mr. Duffy was seeking clarification on remarks I had made to this effect in caucus and I was adamant that any inappropriate expenses had to be reimbursed by him."
Duffy in the Senate Oct. 22
"So after caucus on Feb. 13 of this year, I met the prime minister and Nigel Wright, just the three of us. I said that despite the smear in the papers, I had not broken the rules, but the prime minister wasn't interested in explanations or the truth. It's not about what you did; it's about the perception of what you did that has been created in the media."
Harper in question period Oct. 23, referring to Duffy's account of the Feb. 13 meeting
"No, Mr. Speaker I absolutely did not say that."
Duffy to the Senate on Oct. 22
"I argued: I'm just following the rules like all of the others. But it didn't work. I was ordered by the prime minister: Pay the money back, end of discussion. Nigel Wright was present throughout, just the three of us."
Harper in question period on June 5
"I have made it very clear what my views were to all my staff and to our caucus. We expect inappropriate expenses to be reimbursed and I would expect they would be reimbursed by the person who incurred them. I would certainly not expect them to be reimbursed by somebody else."
Harper in question period on June 5
"Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, Mr. Wright informed me of his personal cheque on May 15. This was an error in judgment. He indicated he did this because he believed that taxpayers should be reimbursed and he was prepared to ensure that happened, as in fact it did happen. However, obviously this was an error in judgment for many reasons that have already been outlined and for that reason, I accepted his resignation."
Harper at a news conference on July 6 in Calgary
"I think if you read the affidavit it makes very clear that the decision to pay money to Mr. Duffy out of Mr Wright’s personal funds was made solely by Mr. Wright and was his responsibility. Obviously, had I known about this earlier I would never have allowed this to take place. When I answered questions about this in the House of Commons I answered questions to the best of my knowledge."