Rick Mercer says Pierre Berton’s joint rolling tutorial is one of his favourite memories

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“I’m Pierre Berton and that’s how to roll a joint,” said the late Canadian author as he signed off from what would be his last television appearance and what should be an unofficial Heritage Minute.

On the latest episode of The Sunday Interview, CBC’s Rosie Barton harkened back to the weedy Canadiana moment as she caught up with political satirist and television personality Rick Mercer.

In a segment that aired yesterday (January 6), the old friends chatted for the first time on screen since Mercer stepped away from his award-winning show, The Rick Mercer Report. The fifteen-season series ended in April of last year.

Not allowing a major moment in the country’s political history to go un-Mercered, Barton probes the comedian for his thoughts on the recent federal legalization of cannabis.

“I find it amazing that nothing happened. It’s just amazing. Nothing happened,” he says, recounting a recent incident at a Canadian airport in which the man in front of him unabashedly plopped a baggie of weed on the tray during a security screening. And, spoiler alert, no one got arrested.

“I kind of equate it to finally getting air conditioning. People say: ‘We should have done this 15 years ago. This is fantastic!’”

Then, the interview cuts back to a truly Canadian moment in television history—an early segment of The Mercer Report in which Berton teaches viewers how to roll a joint.

“It’s one of my favourite stories and it’s one of my favourite moments of my life because I got to meet Pierre Berton,” Mercer says. A lifelong fan of the writer, he says the experience was a “real thrill” and reveals that Berton was—no surprise—really freaking cool.

The video, which originally aired during the first season of The Mercer Report on October 18, 2004, is a two-minute comedic sketch in which Berton instructs Canadians how to roll a “coner”—or cone-shaped joint—on a copy of his book Prisoners of the North.

Not only was Berton excited to film the clip, but he was adamant about working with real weed, saying to Mercer: “I am not going on CBC and rolling oregano, I’ll look like a fool.”

“The first thing Pierre Berton said to me when I went to his house was: ‘did you bring the weed?’ and the last thing he said to me was: ‘leave the weed’,” says Mercer during the interview.

Berton passed away later that year, but the clip left the country with some lasting words of wisdom: “Remember Canada, it’s the loose joints that tend to fall apart, leaving unsightly toke burns on your chair or on your bow tie. It’s a tragedy we all want to avoid, don’t we?”

Watch the full interview on CBC.

Piper Courtenay is The Georgia Straight’s cannabis editor. Follow her on Twitter @PiperCourtenay and Instagram @PiperCourtenay.

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