We interrupt the usual talk about sex* for a crime news story ripped from the headlines, containing the words pelt, thing, head and moose.
Yes, first we’ll look at the efforts to rescue Bob, the moose head, plus there’s news about a major crime fiction award that you must take action on, and it’s Dar Wednesday**.
Plus there’s very exciting news over at Trace’s. Congrats!
Our mission today, should you choose to accept, is to vigorously launch the Free Bob campaign -- to set loose what's left of a moose that is being held in captivity by enforcement officials within the ministry of natural resources.
It may seem frivolous, but it is not.
Frivolous is to concern ourselves with today's speech from the throne, with Iraq and Afghanistan, with the price of gas at the pumps, and with whether Pamela Anderson's near-baring of her puppies at the Junos will save a single seal.
Those scenarios are out of our control.
We are here today to free a moose head named Bob.
If a picture is worth a thousands words, one had to look no further than the hangdog expression on Ken Procyk's face in Saturday's newspaper when, with a cold Moosehead beer in hand, he commiserated in a nearby pub about what had just transpired in a Newmarket courtroom.
If he were to accept the Crown's offer of a $250 fine in exchange for a guilty plea to selling Bob on eBay, Bob would be gone from his life forever -- and without him having any say as to where Bob would one day proudly hang.
"And that," says Procyk, "is out of the question."
The saga began, as charted here, when two Ontario conservation officers -- complete with field kit of bulletproof vests and sidearms -- showed up at Ken Procyk's Aurora home one day and pulled out their ID.
"Are you trying to sell a moose head on eBay?" one asked.
"No," replied Procyk. "I've sold a moose head on eBay. Why? Is there some kind of a problem?"
Apparently there was.
According to Section 48 (1) of the provincial Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, a "person shall not buy or sell game wildlife or specially protected wildlife, including pelts, except under the authority of a licence and in accordance with the regulations."
In other words, Bob was a "pelt" who could not be sold without a licence and, if he was, and ended up being "forfeited," he would then become a "thing."
These are important words to remember.
Bob -- the moose head -- has been a part of the Procyk family for over two decades, beginning back in Alberta when Ken Procyk's father was given it as a gift by a supplier.
For the next year, Bob was a hat rack in Calgary.
… Ken Procyk…answered his door one day and found two armed conservation officers standing on his doorstep.
"Are you trying to sell a moose head on eBay?" one asked.
He was. His wife was pregnant, the moose head was taking her spot in the garage, and they decided to sell Bob to a bar in the US
When the story broke…-- that Bob had been seized by U.S. customs at Buffalo and was now been held in custody by MNR authorities in Aurora while charges against Procyk were being processed -- Moosehead Breweries in Saint John, N.B., was on the scent faster than a bull moose in rut.
Last year the company collected more than 10,000 online signatures protesting the federal government's inane decision to yank "moose, mountains and Mounties" from Canadian tourism advertising.
Now it has turned its sights on Bob.
According to Joel Levesque, Moosehead's vice-president of public affairs, not only will Moosehead pick up the $560 that U.S. customs wants for Bob's time in its lockup, it will assist in whatever legal fees Ken Procyk faces in winning Bob's freedom.
"We have long been the champion of this king of the forest, and we want to see Bob returned," said Levesque, indicating his company's website -- moosehead.ca -- will carry not only the stories already written here, but will join the Sun in its Free Bob e-mail campaign.
And there is a way to win this battle.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, if Procyk returns to court on May 19 and pleads guilty to the offer on the table, the forfeiture of Bob is automatic.
By law, Bob will then be considered a "thing" -- no longer a hat rack, no longer a place to hang wet bathing suits, and no longer a celebrity in family photos.
David Ramsay, elected to the Ontario legislature from the northern riding of Timiskaming -- a place where they know their moose -- is now minister of natural resources.
And he is the key to the Free Bob campaign.
Much as a governor in the United States can free a prisoner from death row, David Ramsay can free Bob.
Under Section 92 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, the same act that saw Bob seized, there is a section dealing with the "disposition of a forfeited thing," as well as the manner in which that "thing" can be "disposed."
It reads as follows:"A thing -- (aka Bob, in this case) -- forfeited to the Crown shall be disposed of in accordance with the direction of the minister."
In other words, Ramsay, being that "minister," could direct that Bob be returned to Ken Procyk.
"In theory, you are right," said Gary Martin, a long-time MNR enforcement officer working out of Peterborough.
"But, in my 25 years on the job, I've yet to see it applied."
The game, as they say, is therefore afoot.
And the online Free Bob petition -- found at torontosun.com -- is good to go.
To view the online Free Bob web page, go to torontosun.com/bob
You can read the full version of this account here.
And now, on a slightly darker note…
The longlist for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award has been announced. There are 20 books nominated for the prize, which (as I recall from last year) is a few thousand pounds and a beer glass or something. See the write-up of the 2005 award ceremony when Mark Billingham won for more information.
This is a reader’s choice award, so vote for your favourite. I assure you I have not encoded subliminal messages into the text to tell you to vote for Ian Rankin and Val McDermid.
You can trust me. Good girl that I am.
* Don’t worry. I have a sizzling post I’m working on for later in the week. Might even make Terrenoire blush…
** The Dar Wednesday post might not be up yet, but it is worth going to check out later. Always a treat.