‘My blood boiled at his ignorance’

Mark Critch says he couldn’t hold back his ambush of PETA news conference

Published on December 18, 2013

Mark Critch says he wasn’t quite sure whether or not he’d go through with his plans to ambush Pamela Anderson Tuesday — until he became overcome with anger.
Anderson and “The Simpsons” co-creator Sam Simon were in St. John’s with members of PETA.

Simon’s charitable foundation is offering $1 million to Canadian sealers as an incentive to “facilitate and achieve a government buyout” program and end the seal hunt. The group visited the Canadian Sealers Association on Hamilton Avenue in St. John’s — whose office was closed — to slip a letter under the door.

Critch, clutching a handwritten cheque of his own, burst into a news conference held by the group to make Anderson a different offer: $1 million to give up acting for good. The “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” actor, comedian and satirist — no stranger to political and news conference ambushes — told The Telegram afterwards he had been debating whether or not to go through with the ambush, until Simon told members of the media sealers could take the $1 million and “all go to the Shamrock (pub) and The Keg (steakhouse) and have some fun instead of clubbing the seals.”

“My blood boiled at his ignorance,” Critch said. “Like we are a bunch of twee leprechauns, too stupid to know better.

“Pam said a million dollars is a lot of money for Newfoundland. I decided to make her offer back to her. She, too, is a seasonal worker, after all. Her IMDB (film and television web profile) says she hasn’t had an American acting job since 2008.”

Critch offered Anderson the cheque, but then recanted and said he’d give her $165 instead — the amount, he said, each sealer would receive if they accepted Simon’s offer.

“Will you give up your livelihood for $165?” he asked the “Baywatch” actress, who is an honorary PETA director.

“This is not a buyout,” Anderson told a crowd of sealers taking in the press conference, amid heckling. “This business is over. There’s no market for seal pelts.”

Dan Mathews, PETA’s senior vice-president, stressed the offer pertained only to the commercial seal hunt, and was intended to be a bonus to prompt talks between the association and government to come to a buyout agreement, as other failed industries like asbestos mining and tobacco farming have done.

“This buyout calls very clearly for (sealers) to be able to resume individual sealing. It excludes the native hunt. It excludes the personal hunt,” he said. When asked why the organization didn’t address the cattle industry instead, Mathews replied, “At some point, the meat trade will probably die as well, and we’ll be there with a buyout for them as well, but right now we’re here to talk about the seals.”

Before the news conference began, Simon, who has terminal cancer, was approached by longtime fisheries advocate Jim Winter, who expressed concern for his health.

“I have every sympathy for you,” Winter said. “What I don’t have sympathy for, I’m very sad to say, (are) your ideas about animal rights.

“There is nothing to discuss. Our dignity, our rights, are not for sale for a paltry million or a hundred times a million. We have a right to live our lives. You have no right to deprive us of that. This is a question of an insane set of values that attacks rural peoples. If you would really like to do something, why don’t you go back to America and go after the people in America who hunt seals in Alaska? Why don’t you go and help the children in America who are dying of cancer? Please leave us alone. Take your insane group and go away.”

Winter accused Simon of organizing the event as part of a “YouTube moment” for animal rights fundraising, earning applause from the crowd. Simon disagreed.

“This is a real thing; an attempt to end a horror show that shouldn’t be taking place in the 21st century,” he said. “I liked when you started and you appeared so concerned about me, but it appears you’re just using this to grandstand during our press conference, so please stop.”

Visit http://bit.ly/JFgb2d to read Simon’s letter to Eldred Woodford of the sealers association.

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

This is a corrected version

During a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) event, comedian Mark Critch offers Pamela Anderson (in sunglasses) a cheque Tuesday afternoon in exchange for giving up her acting career. The PETA event was interrupted by the comedian as they tried to offer $1 million to end the seal hunt. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram