Rick Mercer spends some one-on-one time with Lanei, western screech owl. Photo: Michal Grajewski, Rick Mercer Report

Mercer Report season premiere to feature Vancouver Island animal rescue centre

Viewing party Tuesday evening at the Avalanche

Dianne Pollock still has to pinch herself to confirm she isn’t dreaming.

Pollock is part of the special events committee for the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS), the team responsible for getting Rick Mercer to Vancouver Island for a taping of his show.

“I was so excited when it finally happened. I’m still so excited,” she said. “It’s going to be so much fun to see.”

The MARS segment will be featured on the season premiere of the Rick Mercer Report, Tuesday, Sept. 26.

While the taping and subsequent airing took no time at all, the process of getting him to the Island took more than two years to come to fruition.

“Back in June 2015, at one of our meetings, we thought it would be a good idea,” Pollock said. “So I wrote out this long email telling him what we did. I threw in a few things I thought might interest him, and added that if anything went sideways we have a hospital nearby … we got a response back pretty quickly saying they were interested.”

Pollock said despite the producer expressing his interest in the idea, she heard nothing else for a few months, prompting a follow-up email.

Another response from Mercer’s producer reaffirmed the interest on their end, but again, communication stalled after that.

“So I just kept at it,” said Pollock. “All of a sudden, late last year, they started showing more interest, and started talking about coming in March.”

That time-frame fell through, because Mercer was so involved with his Spread the Net Challenge (a nation-wide competition among Canadian schools to raise funds for bed nets, in the fight against malaria, in Africa).

“We started thinking ‘gee whiz, this might never happen’… so we let it sit for a little while, then at one of our meetings I said ‘we’ve got river otters, we’ve got 11 fawns… we’d better send him another update,” said Pollock. “So our manager, Diane Weir, sent him a nice email, outlining the entire scenario, how she saw [the segment] playing out, and that was it; she reeled him in.”

Mercer and his production team spent the morning of Aug. 25 at MARS, filming, and the show will be aired Tuesday.

MARS founder, Maj Birch, was part of the June 2015 meeting. She lost her battle to cancer later that year. Pollock said seeing this process through was somewhat of a tribute to Birch.

“I hope so; I really hope so,” said Pollock. “We all miss her a great deal. We still consider that Maj is the one holding the umbrella and we are all just the spokes.”

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Rick Mercer is overwhelmed as he nurses a couple of fawns. Photo: Michal Grajewski, Rick Mercer Report

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