By MARK BONOKOSKI
NEWMARKET -- Bob the Moose is free!
Well, he's sort of free.
Shortly after Justice of the Peace Ann Forfar yesterday tossed out the case of Regina vs. Kenneth Douglas Procyk -- owner of the now world-famous stuffed moose head which, in the JP's own words is "affectionately named Bob" -- ministry of natural resources prosecutor Demetrius Antonios Kappos invoked his provincially legislated right of 30 days to consider an appeal.
"I cannot comment right now (on whether there will be an appeal)," a disappointed Kappos said shortly after the court's ruling. "I have to think about it."
Until then, Bob the Moose -- Exhibit 6 in a long and seemingly never-ending trial -- must remain in lockup here, somewhere in the second-floor offices of the Old Tannery provincial court, with the earliest date for his release now circled as Nov. 2.
If Monty Python were Canadian, this script would rival that of the dead parrot.
"It's a case that should never have gone to trial," said defence counsel Lonny Mark.
Indeed, it has been wildly absurd from the get-go.
Fast rewind. Two Ontario conservation officers -- complete with field kit of bulletproof vests and sidearms -- show up at Ken Procyk's Aurora home almost two years ago, and pull out their identification.
One cuts to the chase.
"Are you trying to sell a moose head on eBay?" he asks.
"No," replies Procyk. "I've sold a moose on eBay. Why? Is there some kind of problem?"
And so it began.
It was certainly fodder for a column, supposedly a one-off column. But suddenly the story of a moose shot in Alberta before becoming a mounted moose head, and then a family heirloom, somehow grew legs. Readers, too, thought Ken Procyk's prosecution was absurd.
Moosehead Breweries in New Brunswick saw the figurehead of their logo in trouble and decided to fund Ken Procyk's defence. A Free Bob campaign by the Sun and Moosehead was effectively launched. Some 5,000 Free Bob T-shirts flew out of the Sun building. Websites in Bob's honour began springing up.
One column begat a veritable dozen.
Lame moose jokes became a means of survival.
Murder cases -- the epic and bizarre case of ex-Toronto cop Richard Wills being a simultaneous exception -- have lasted shorter lengths of time.
Add it up: Two remands, two days of pre-trial, five days of trial, and now a 30-day wait to see if the prosecution is going to appeal.
All over a moose head.
If Demetrius Antonios Kappos actually does decide to appeal, he's playing Crazy 8s with a euchre deck. He would appear to have no cards with which to play the game.
And then there is the dilemma of having to justify the spending of taxpayers' money ... and how much? Perhaps $100,000 when all in? -- to appeal the judicial loss of a 20-year-old stuffed moose head when the fine, if he had won a conviction, would have amounted to about $250.
Besides, Justice of the Peace Ann Forfar covered virtually every opening where grounds for an appeal might be considered -- the legal definition of due diligence, for example, as well as the variances of "strict liabilities."
In her narrative, she emphasized how Procyk, a steel industry rep by trade, did everything but bend over backwards to ensure he was breaking no law -- even to the point of having an MNR representative "walk him through" the ministry's website, and tell him which forms to download and how, time after time, no one -- not Canadian customs, not U.S. customs, not his customs broker and again, not anyone at MNR -- told him that selling a stuffed moose head was illegal because it was considered a "game pelt" that could not be sold without a proper licence. No one.
If Kappos didn't see that his case was going down the tubes, he certainly saw it emerging when Forfar began her judgment by stating that next to the red maple leaf of the Canadian flag, or the red serge of the Mountie's uniform, the moose is "probably the most recognizable symbol of this country."
The kicker came when she referred to Bob the Moose in her soliloquy as "a beloved family relic," and reiterated defence counsel Lonny Mark's question at the onset of the trial: "Why are we even here?"
At that moment, Kappos had to have known the jig was up. He was done like Bob.
If Procyk had lost, he would have had to forfeit Bob the Moose, which is why he decided to fight the charge in the first place -- aided, of course, by Moosehead's decision to step into the fray and pick up the legal tab.
"There is no way I could have fought this on my own," he admitted. "Who would have thought it would go on for almost two years.
"And the legal bill, I expect, will be somewhere around $40,000 or more. And over what? An honest mistake over a moose head?"
In the meantime, a moose walks into a bar, and the bartender says to him: "Hey, buddy, why the long face?"
"We won that case, and I thought my friend Bob would be out of jail today, but he's not," says the moose. "The prosecutor wants 30 days to consider appealing Bob's freedom. So they're keeping him locked up."
"That could be a good thing," says the bartender.
"A good thing? Whaddaya mean?" asks the moose.
"Well, the moose hunting season is underway right now," says the bartender. "Under the circumstances, Bob could not be in a safer place, right? Remember the old expression: Once shot, twice shy."
"You've got a point," says the moose. "Mooseheads for everyone. Just make sure you call me a cab at closing time."