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 ‚ÄĒ along with his relatives ‚ÄĒ smack dab in the middle of this fight between ‚ÄúClass Action‚ÄĚ Ches, his clients and the government.
The question and answer session was arranged by Rocky the Squirrel, Bullwinkle‚Äôs ‚Äúlongtime companion‚ÄĚ and his co-star in a well-known cartoon series. (There‚Äôs a scattered reader, I‚Äôm 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: ‚ÄúI‚Äôm nuts about the guy.‚ÄĚ He wouldn‚Äôt 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 Shore‚Äôs Cape Pond Road, not anxious (and understandably so) to be turned into sausage at Halliday‚Äôs Meat Market in St. John‚Äôs.
Here‚Äôs 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 you‚Äôre familiar with, according to some of those nasty letter writers.
B.W.: So, let‚Äôs 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. I‚Äôll get to the point. I‚Äôll 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, wouldn‚Äôt you? It was a no-brainer. Besides, my relatives had been
discriminated against over there because they didn‚Äôt grunt with a French accent. And they couldn‚Äôt quite grasp that odd New Brunswick French-English language, as in: ‚ÄúDeux ‚Äôamburgers wit da works.‚ÄĚ
B.W.: How about ‚Äúdeux mooseburgers?‚ÄĚ
B.M.: Pretty funny, Bob. You‚Äôre 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 ruttin‚Äô, havin‚Äô rolls in the alders. And they multiplied. It‚Äôs not their fault. Not our fault.
B.W.: But you‚Äôve certainly been made out to be the bad guys in all of this.
B.M.: (Grunts) You can say that again.
B.W.: You‚Äôve 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 man‚Äôs Andy Jones?
B.W.: Sorry. It‚Äôs just that I‚Äôm finding this hard to take seriously. A lot of us haven‚Äôt stopped laughing
since ‚ÄúCharging‚ÄĚ Ches Crosbie announced with great fanfare that he was taking poor Kathy Dunderdale to court for bringing your ‚Äútype‚ÄĚ over here.
B.M.: Look, the bottom line is this: we‚Äôve created good times in this place. Gave Newfoundlanders a ton of grub, provided lots of outdoor fun. We‚Äôve been on the cover of the Newfoundland Sportsman almost as often as Gord Follett, for Gawd‚Äôs 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 bro‚Äô.
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 ‚ÄĒ 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.