You can’t blame the premier for everything

Bob Wakeham
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Every once in a while, even a politician deserves a touch of sympathy.

At least that’s how I felt last week after reading that our forever sad-faced Premier Kathy Dunderdale, down in the dumps and down in the polls, might be dragged into court to determine whether she has played a role in the moose-vehicular carnage on our highways.

Now, usually in these matters of moose versus cars and trucks it’s the moose who are portrayed as the unwitting villains, gangly animals brought in from New Brunswick over a century ago, possibly to escape the bland life in the doormat province and get a chance to live in a land where — they may have been told in moose language — there was a smile on every puss and lots of good grub.

If full-fledged feature movies had been around back then, when the moose sought refugee status in the country of Newfoundland, “There Will Be Blood” would have been an appropriately prophetic film title.  And “The Wild Bunch” director Sam Peckinpah would have been in seventh heaven if he could have positioned his blood-thirsty cameramen on Newfoundland roads and captured the hundreds, if not thousands, of accidents that occurred over the years after the moose started to multiply at the same rate as the famously promiscuous rabbits.

And then there was the harvest of all those fine animals over the decades as Newfoundlanders fell in love with moose meat, and the call of “got to get me moose, b’y” was heard in every nook and cranny of the province. Peckinpah’s penchant for slow motion would have had endless possibilities.

But enough of my movie musings.

When I heard that Ches Crosbie, The Class-Action Man, was demanding that the premier defend in court her government’s policy on the moose troubles, I had a fine laugh for myself (along with, as I’ve said, an instantaneous, uncharacteristic spark of pity for the downtrodden Dunderdale).

But this latest development in the campaign to rid the highways of the moose does have the makings of one of those twisted, bizarre Monty Python skits.

I can see it now: Class-Action Ches with Dunderdale in the witness chair asking whether her

government’s policy of keep-your-mouth-shut-at-all-costs could be compromised just this once to talk about Bullwinkle and his thousands of buddies playing hopscotch in the middle of the Trans-Canada Highway, and what actions she has taken to break up the game.

To blame for it all?

If I was Dunderdale, I’d ask Class-Action Ches whether he believes she is also responsible for letting the ice freeze over on the Strait of Belle Isle so those evil, dog-eating, sheep-eating, caribou-eating coyotes could make their way to the island and create fear in the hearts of every Newfoundlander, especially those without a rusting, 50-year-old shotgun in the back porch.

Or whether Class-Action Ches thinks Ms. Dunderdale should have been patrolling the waterways of Indian Bay in a canoe years ago to prevent so-called anglers from taking home pickup loads of trout, and almost destroying what was one of the most incredible trouting areas in the province.

And maybe Ms. Dunderdale should have been at the Front off Labrador when the first anti-sealing zealots showed up, clubbed them with her own hakapik and tossed them off the ice pans into the frozen northern waters; then, if they survived, have them shipped to the nearest jail in St. Anthony. (By the way, I can’t help but admire the way in which the Russians handled those holier-than-thou, pompous Greenpeace do-gooders. What did the now-outraged protesters and their supporters think they were going to get when they scaled the Russian ship like a bunch of Somali pirates? A gigantic Russian bear hug and a bottle of vodka?)

Back to the issue at hand: perhaps Class-Action Ches should put Bullwinkle or one of his unfairly maligned cousins in the witness box and see how Mr. Moose feels about being portrayed as the devil incarnate.

Now that would be a show: Maurice the Moose appearing in court, “Mossie” for short, his spindly legs stretching down from the courthouse as far as the Duke of Duckworth where an episode of “The Republic of Doyle” is being shot. I have an idea: the producers could incorporate the recent incident in Norris Arm North in which a shark was rescued from choking to death on a piece of moose hide, the yarn that’s “gone viral,” as computer language has it.

Maybe the “Republic of Doyle” crowd could give the story a real Newfoundland twist: instead of a story in which the two shark saviours plunge their arms foolishly into the shark’s gob, the skit would show a couple of more practical Newfoundlanders cutting the shark’s throat, carving up the carcass, and feeding a community for a week. (At least Farley Mowat would be delighted, providing him with another piece of anti-Newfoundland propaganda: “A Shark for the Killing”).

Come to think of it, perhaps it’s not a stretch to suggest that it is Dunderdale who bears the ultimate blame for the predicament the shark found himself in, the premier, after all, not having done her part to rid the province of the moose that nearly killed Mr. Jaws.

There’s no end to Dunderdale’s culpability. 

How about those God-awful, RDF springs on the Avalon Peninsula? Come on now, Madame Premier, fess up. 

Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com.

Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway, Greenpeace

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Indian Bay St. Anthony Duckworth Republic of Doyle Norris Arm North

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