St. John's actor Mary Walsh revived a formerly retired character on a damp, foggy beach Monday night to make a fiery political point about Stephen Harper.
Walsh dressed as Princess Warrior Marg Delahunty at Middle Cove Beach, just north of St. John's, to denounce the Conservative leader's policies before the Oct. 14 federal election.
Participants at the event Walsh sponsored were invited to toss sweater-vests — like a blue one Harper wears in much-discussed TV ads aimed at softening his image — into a bonfire.
"I thought, 'Well, there's not very much I can do, I suppose, but I could go down and burn a few sweater-vests,' " Walsh told about two dozen participants.
About half a dozen knitted sweater-vests were dropped into the fire. Walsh, though, earned the biggest crowd response when she tossed a large picture of Harper into the fire, even though it took a while to burn.
Walsh created Delahunty as a blunt, straight-talking woman with a St. John's accent and a medieval-fantasy costume, who barged into politicians' events, invitations be damned.
However, she has not been seen in Warrior Princess garb since she left the CBC series This Hour Has 22 Minutes in 2004.
'I thought the world is so full of people who are smited or who have been ground relentlessly beneath some warrior's heel … But then I thought, 'No one is saying anything.' ' —Mary Walsh
"I didn't really want to be Marg anymore, because she's always saying she's going to smite people or grind them relentlessly beneath her warrior's heel," Walsh said.
"And I thought the world is so full of people who are smited or who have been ground relentlessly beneath some warrior's heel.… But then I thought, 'No one is saying anything.'
"So I thought it might be good for Marg just to put on the breastplate and pick up that trusty plastic sword and start smiting again."
Calls Harper 'iceberg of a prime minister'
Appearing in character, Walsh described Harper as "an iceberg of a prime minister" surrounded by underlings too terrified to speak.
"How stunned does the prime minister think we are?" Walsh yelled out, as a bonfire crackled.
"For God's sake, does he think that putting on a blue sweater-vest is going to make us think, 'Oh my goodness, what a kind-hearted, cosy, cute little PM,' and forget all about the fact of his soul-sucking, evil work of putting 14-year-olds in jail for the rest of his lives?" said Walsh, referring to the Conservatives' call to treat youths accused of serious crimes as adults.
The crowd — some fans, some turning out for the politics — cheered along with Walsh throughout the demonstration.
"I've always respected Mary.... She's been outspoken and she stands up for the people," said Greg Byrne, who is running for the Newfoundland and Labrador First Party in St. John's South-Mount Pearl.
Byrne said Walsh made a valid point about highlighting Harper's clothing.
"[Conservative supporters] follow the leader and they don't think critically. They're just taking this sweater-vest thing, like Mary is saying, [and] he's biting his tongue now, because he wants to get a majority government," Byrne said.
"When he gets that majority government, then he will become the real Stephen Harper, like everybody keeps saying."
"We all have our qualms about Stephen Harper," said Karen Chapman, who said she was "here to support her ideas about him. I feel the same way about him."
Walsh's views come in the midst of an "Anything But Conservative" campaign waged by Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, who labelled Harper as untrustworthy and hiding a far-right agenda behind the Conservative platform.
A Progressive Conservative, Williams has been joined by almost all members of his caucus. Federal Conservatives admit that they are having difficulty in Newfoundland and Labrador obtaining normal levels of support and donations in the current campaign, and organizers say Williams has intimidated rank-and-file Tories from helping out federal campaigns.