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Rush, Mary Walsh get Governor-General's honours

Mary Walsh, left, talks to Toronto Councillor Doug Ford at Toronto City Hall.


Satirist Mary Walsh and rock trio Rush are among the six laureates of this year's Governor-General's Performing Arts Awards for lifetime achievement, it was announced Tuesday at a ceremony in Calgary. (Walsh, seriously ill with a respiratory infection, did not attend the event.)

Created in 1992, the awards come with a cash prize of $25,000 for each winner and a commemorative Royal Canadian Mint medallion. Besides Walsh, 59, best known for co-creating and starring in the TV series This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and Rush – its members, together since 1974, are Geddy Lee, 58, Alex Lifeson, 58, and Neil Peart, 59 – the other 2012 laureates are classical pianist Janina Fialkowska, 60, film director/screenwriter Deepa Mehta, 62, dancer/choreographer Paul-André Fortier, 63, and theatre director/stage designer Denis Marleau, 57.

Walsh made front-page headlines nationally last October when, dressed as her "princess warrior" character Marg Delahunty, she ensnared Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in an early-morning ambush outside his home. The mayor responded by calling 911.

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Winners of two other "special" awards were also announced at the ceremony. Toronto's Earlaine Collins, a long-time supporter of the Canadian Opera Company, the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Royal Ontario Museum, among other institutions, was named the recipient of the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for voluntarism in the performing arts. Stratford Shakespeare Festival artistic director Des McAnuff is this year's winner of the National Arts Centre Award, which recognizes work of "an extraordinary nature and significance in the performing arts by an individual or company in the previous performing year." (McAnuff was cited particularly for his production of Jesus Christ Superstar which, after a successful run in 2011 at Stratford, opens on Broadway later this month.)

All eight winners will be honoured at a gala on May 5 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

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