OTTAWA–Actor-turned-politician Lenore Zann is finding a second act in politics just as one of her most well-known roles finds a second life on the streaming screen.
Zann, a longtime New Democrat MLA from Nova Scotia, arrived in Ottawa this week as a newly elected Liberal MP.
Rogue, the character Zann voiced in the iconic 90s X-Men: The Animated Series, will be on Disney’s new streaming service along with the rest of the superhero team when that service launches in Canada next week.
“It seems as if all of the experience I have had in both of my careers are now coming together at the same time,” Zann said of the uncanny experience of two professional rebirths in one month.
“The character I played who was — and is — the strongest woman in the universe is now coming together with the second woman in history to be sent to Ottawa to represent my riding,” she said.
“I think it shows that a woman that’s coming into her own and embracing her own strengths and powers, but still going it alone.”
There are a few minor differences between the politician and her former superhero role, however.
Zann is not, for instance, a mutant. She can’t fly, nor can she absorb a person’s psyche and abilities through skin contact. She grew up in Truro, Nova Scotia, rather than on the run with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
(Both origin stories are long, filled with mystique and, at times, complicated.)
But like her alter-ego, Zann can punch above her weight.
Zann represented the neighbouring provincial riding of Truro-Bible Hill as an NDP MLA, joining Darrell Dexter’s short-lived government in 2009 and withstanding a Liberal onslaught four years later. After 10 years as an NDP MLA, Zann decided to jump to the federal Liberals in the 2019 election.
Her gambit paid off.
In last month’s federal election, she managed to hold on to Cumberland-Colchester for the Liberals, defying the expectations of many political watchers. Conservative parties have been a political juggernaut in the central Nova Scotia riding, holding it for most of the past five decades.
Bill Casey, the outgoing MP, had originally won in the riding as a Progressive Conservative in the 1980s and, later, for the Conservative Party. But after a falling out with Stephen Harper, Casey became a bit of a political superhero when he won another term as an Independent in 2008.
After a brief Conservative interlude for the riding between 2011 and 2015, Casey’s political career rose again like a phoenix from the ashes, this time under Trudeau’s banner.
Casey threw his weight behind Zann in the 2019 election, and told the Star he was drawn to her personal magnetism.
“She actually inspires me,” Casey said in an interview Friday. “To see her in action, she’s just on the go all the time.”
There was no doubt jubilation in Liberal circles to see Cumberland-Colchester stay red, but Casey said that he doesn’t believe any political strategist can assume it’s a natural conservative seat — the riding is changing, according to the veteran politician.
When asked why he backed a former New Democrat MLA, Casey said it would be hard for him to criticize anyone for changing parties.
“I think it’s a great idea, I think everybody should do it once and awhile,” Casey said with a laugh.
For her part, Zann said that she wants to work to “bring Canadians together” with her work in Ottawa.
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“We need to stick together and look out for each other, instead of creating false divisions — either west to east, or oil or no oil, or environment (versus the) fossil fuel industry, or Quebec versus Canada,” Zann said.
“I tired of all these false differences between people. We need to all come together and we all want the same thing. We want happiness, we want to have enough food on the table for everybody, we want people not to be homeless, and we want to be able to have a clean, green future with an environment that’s protected so that we can leave a legacy for the generations to come.”
In today’s political climate, battling supervillains might seem an easier gig.