Former U.S. President Clinton raises money to fight poverty and AIDS. Jimmy Carter builds houses for the poor and pushes for peace. Now some former Canadian leaders are trying to inspire young, civic-minded types on a reality TV show.
Ex-prime ministers Brian Mulroney, John Turner, Joe Clark and Kim Campbell will be judges on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s “The Next Great Prime Minister.”
Comedian Rick Mercer will host the one-hour special in which the former prime ministers will grill five finalists before a live audience March 18. The ex-leaders and members of the audience will then have an equal vote to pick the winner.
The CBC has set a Dec. 15 deadline for Canadians aged 18 to 25 to submit short videotaped speeches about why they should become prime minister and what they would do once in office.
“This hunt for our future leader will engage our youth while providing our audiences with an early glimpse at the political leaders of tomorrow,” said Kristine Layfield, executive director of network programming at CBC Television.
The show aired last year for the first time and created buzz when one of the contestants nearly walked off stage in a bundle of nerves, insisting he could not go on.
“The Next Great Prime Minister” is based on a nationwide competition started in 1995 by Frank Stronach, founder of auto parts giant Magna International, one of the show’s sponsors.
Stronach’s daughter, Belinda, tried to position herself as future prime minister, contesting the leadership of the Conservative Party in 2004. She finished second to Stephen Harper, who toppled nearly 13 years of Liberal Party rule in January and was named prime minister.
The winner of “The Next Great Prime Minister” will receive a $44,130 cash prize and paid internships in corporate and government organizations.
Last year’s winner, Deirdra McCracken, is working on her master’s degree in political science at the University of Laval, where her thesis will look at how journalists cover public opinion polls.