Although that class-action suit blaming the government for moose-vehicle accidents has been the subject of mockery (the scorn aimed, for the most part, at the implication that the province has to be held responsible because it brought the animals here in the first place at the turn of the last century), I refuse to take a frivolous, lighthearted view of this significant piece of legal history.
In fact, I awakened my reportorial talents, dormant since retirement, and launched a search for intellectual expansion of this matter, emerging with a journalistic coup: an exclusive interview with Bullwinkle the Moose, caught â along with his relatives â smack dab in the middle of this fight between âClass Actionâ Ches, his clients and the government.
The question and answer session was arranged by Rocky the Squirrel, Bullwinkleâs âlongtime companionâ and his co-star in a well-known cartoon series. (Thereâs a scattered reader, Iâm sure, anxious to know, given the age of tabloid journalism in which we operate, whether the relationship between Rocky and Bullwinkle was strictly platonic. Being both bold and rude, I asked Rocky that very question while we were arranging the Bullwinkle interview, and his answer was courteous but ambiguous. Replied the squirrel: âIâm nuts about the guy.â He wouldnât elaborate.)
All that extraneous yellow journalism aside, the interview was conducted by cellphone during moose hunting season, and Bullwinkle was in hiding near the Southern Shoreâs Cape Pond Road, not anxious (and understandably so) to be turned into sausage at Hallidayâs Meat Market in St. Johnâs.
Hereâs a transcript of that interview, B.W. representing yours truly, B.M. representing Bullwinkle the Moose:
B.W.: First of all, Bull, do you mind if I call you Bull?
B.M.: Sure, Bob, after all, bull is a word youâre familiar with, according to some of those nasty letter writers.
B.W.: So, letâs cut to the chase. Oops, probably wrong phrase to use this time of the year. Sorry, Bull. How about we scope out the issue? Sorry, again. Bull. Iâll get to the point. Iâll focus in.
B.M.: About bloody time.
B.W.: OK, how do you feel about the fact that one of the reasons being mentioned for this lawsuit is that the Newfoundland government decided to bring your ancestors to the island from New Brunswick?
B.M.: Well, if you were living in exciting New Brunswick and had a chance to move to Newfoundland, wouldnât you? It was a no-brainer. Besides, my relatives had been
discriminated against over there because they didnât grunt with a French accent. And they couldnât quite grasp that odd New Brunswick French-English language, as in: âDeux âamburgers wit da works.â
B.W.: How about âdeux mooseburgers?â
B.M.: Pretty funny, Bob. Youâre about as amusing as a Brad Cabana press conference. The fact remains that my people were taken to Newfoundland, a few guys, a few girls, brought ashore to fend for themselves, and after they gorged on blueberries, got to ruttinâ, havinâ rolls in the alders. And they multiplied. Itâs not their fault. Not our fault.
B.W.: But youâve certainly been made out to be the bad guys in all of this.
B.M.: (Grunts) You can say that again.
B.W.: Youâve certainly been made out to be the bad guys in all of this.
B.M.: Enough, already, with the comic stuff. Who do you think you are? The poor manâs Andy Jones?
B.W.: Sorry. Itâs just that Iâm finding this hard to take seriously. A lot of us havenât stopped laughing
since âChargingâ Ches Crosbie announced with great fanfare that he was taking poor Kathy Dunderdale to court for bringing your âtypeâ over here.
B.M.: Look, the bottom line is this: weâve created good times in this place. Gave Newfoundlanders a ton of grub, provided lots of outdoor fun. Weâve been on the cover of the Newfoundland Sportsman almost as often as Gord Follett, for Gawdâs sake. As a matter of fact, Bob, you took full advantage yourself, very recently, of our presence in Newfoundland.
B.W.: What are ya getting at, Bull?
B.M.: You killed my brother in November! I was hiding in a nearby patch of woods and saw you bring him down. It was absolutely traumatic. We were close, me and the broâ.
B.W.: My condolences, hypocritical as that may sound.
B.M.: I must admit it was quite a shot.
B.W.: Thanks. Just doing my part to reduce moose-vehicular accidents.
B.M.: But he was my brother, damn it all. (Sounds of sobbing and a cellphone being chewed â the line goes dead.)
Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.