Chilliwack City Councillor Bud Mercer Shares His Story
Learn about the RCMP, leadership, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics security and the importance of city council.
In October 2022, British Columbians will be asked to select the leaders of their community including their mayor, council, and school board. Voter turnout in Chilliwack was 38.9% in the last election. One of the biggest challenges from my perspective is learning about the candidates. I have sat in all candidates meetings, and debates where potential leaders have 60 seconds or less to explain how they would address issues like affordable housing. It is an imperfect model. To be fair, many people do not have the time to learn about each candidate.
That said, in law school, I have learned that each individual is the cornerstone of the state. We vote at the polls, with our money, and with our clicks. It is what separates our country from countries like North Korea or Russia. I believe individuals like Bill Turnbull, Adam Gibson and Scott Sheffield do a terrific job of highlighting the importance of voting. Scott Sheffield is a military historian who talks about how everyday Canadians throughout history stood up to countries like Germany and the Soviet Union. Dr. Sheffield talks about how these rights aren’t guaranteed, and that we have to defend them. Personally, I believe that we have a moral obligation to cast our vote. It is not only a right, it is also a responsibility.
There is also plenty of pessimism with regards to politics. I’ve heard all the cliches around politics: it’s only one vote, it won’t sway the election, all politicians are crooks, I don’t know enough about the candidates. These comments aren’t helpful. They accomplish… nothing. It is true, your vote won’t sway an election, just like one meal won’t make you healthy and one workout won’t make you fit.
That said, your vote helps us understand the sentiments of our community members. If the conservatives win, perhaps we can make an inference that people have financial concerns about our economy. If a liberal party wins, perhaps we can make an inference that people are worried about social issues. As well, your vote may help inform what the priorities of the winners are. For example, say you vote for the Green party, that may signify to the the Liberal party to prioritize environmental issues. Your vote helps us understand where individuals are. It is imperfect, but the best tool we have.
As some may have heard me say in recent episodes, I believe long-form video podcasts allow for individuals to get a full sense of a person. Viewers can get a sense of their body language, tone, and viewpoints on current events. Less sound-bites, less 60 second questions and more high quality discussions. My hope is to provide interested listeners with the space to learn about potential candidates from across the Fraser Valley and make their vote count.
It’s important that we not only take care of ourselves, but that we take care of the people around us. This is what good leadership looks like. The understanding, regulation, and use of emotions by leaders can have a substantial impact on their ability to lead. Leadership does not just depend on an individuals title. Leaders can begin to form at any level. Leaders inspire those with whom they work with to aim at a common goal.
Bud Mercer, who was a member of the RCMP for many years, provides valuable insight on how to be a strong leader. In this episode, Bud explains how being an excellent leader means holding yourself accountable for the mistakes you make. In fact, it is when we own up to our mistakes and commit ourselves to do better, that is when a real leader emerges. I agree with his perspective on what it means to be a leader. I also believe that when you are transparent with people about your failures, people respect you more as a consequence.
My idea of what good leadership looks like may differ from your definition. Many believe that a good leader is independent, flawless, and never takes a holiday. But that is far from the truth. Bud touches on this when he says, “Being a leader looks different to everyone. At work, I explain to my team that they do not need to follow in my exact footsteps. When you take on more responsibility, it facilitates personal growth”. In this episode, Bud stresses the point that leaders cannot focus on tasks and strategies alone; they must also pay attention to relationships and morale. In my view, this skill is what also makes someone a great leader. Leaders must depend on their team to keep everything running smoothly, and leaders must encourage others to reach their potential. Amongst the many things that make a good leader, these are the biggest takeaways I took from this episode.
We all take a lead at different points in our daily lives, whether it is at work, at home, or in our community. If you ever recognize you are leading others, be mindful, and do your best to lift others spirits in a way that works for them. Do you best each day to set a good example for others, and remember that your decisions impact others around you - for better or for worse!
Aaron Pete from the Bigger Than Me Podcast is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I have been looking forward to sitting down with Councillor Bud Mercer for a while. I attended the University of the Fraser Valley for criminology and criminal justice, and I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing past professors like Mark LaLonde, Zina Lee, and Jon Heidt. In those conversation we talked about how global events impact us, psychopathy, marijuana, drugs, alcohol in relation to crime. I was interested in speaking with Bud Mercer to learn about his work as an RCMP officer, experiences during the 2010 Winter Olympics, and role as a city councillor.
In the early part of the conversation, Bud and I talk about how bad press impacts the morale of RCMP officers. On the one hand, bad actors within the police should be highlighted and discouraged. On the other hand, most police officers are doing the work for all the right reasons. Bad officers make good officers look bad. I cannot imagine going into life and death situations every day for my community, only to have your motives and integrity doubted. It is not an easy job, and Bud has nearly 35 years of experience in the role so I was curious as to how perceptions of the police affected him.
A problem I learned about during my undergraduate degree was the negative impacts of shift-work. The RCMP often have shifts colloquially called four-on-four-off, which means four shifts of work then four days off. During their four days of work, they work to day shifts then two night shifts. All research indicates that it is bad for sleep health, mental health, performance and has other negative effects. A ton of students in the criminology program write brilliant papers showing that shift-work is terrible, yet it continues. Why? I decided to ask Mr. Mercer his thoughts, and what, if anything is being done.
As some may know, Surrey BC is looking at creating a municipal police force. Municipal police are separate and distinct from the RCMP. Some argue that municipal police is better. Proponents point to the fact that the RCMP can place officers in communities the individuals are not from, which creates a disconnect between the community and the police. Municipal forces often recruit people from the community. The hope that there is a stronger community element to municipal forces. In contrast, proponents of the RCMP often point to the reduced costs of their organization. Evidence does suggest that municipal policing is more expensive. With Bud’s years of experience with the RCMP, I was curious what his position was on this topic.
From there, we talk about Bud’s RCMP career specifically. In his early years, he worked with dogs and from the sounds of it he was on the front lines. Later in his career, he moved into leadership roles. We often have stereotypes of what we think a leader is, but each person brings their own values and style to how they lead their team. Bud highlights the importance of humility, fairness and accountability. During this part of the conversation, we also talk about his work during the 2010 Winter Olympics, the stress that he carried and the responsibilities he had.
In the last hour of our discussion we talk about him running in 2018 for Chilliwack City Council. One of my first questions for him was what would he have done differently? We often make it seem as though our leaders need to be flawless, or that they should not make mistakes - which is nonsense. During my conversation with Tyler Olsen, the managing editor of the Fraser Valley Current, we talk about how one of the hallmarks of a great leader is there ability to admit when they do not know something or when they can reflect on what could have been improved.
We also talk about the various work Bud Mercer is involved in as a Councillor including: community safety, affordable housing initiatives, parks and trails, and the Mayor’s Task Force on Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Accessibility. It was a great conversation and I think there is a lot to learn from Bud Mercer. The full interview is available now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube and all other podcast platforms.
Chilliwack City Councillor Bud Mercer Shares His Story