As Steven Fonyo resumed his cross-Canada trek last week, his relations with the Canadian Cancer Society were almost as frosty as the subzero temperatures and snow flurries that greeted him near Dryden, Ont. Fonyo, the onelegged runner who is emulating the 1980 journey of cancer victim Terry Fox, chose to ignore the society’s warnings 3 against running in midwinter. He also denounced the
agency’s threat on Nov. 26 to withdraw future support if it deemed that Fonyo was risking his health or that contributions were dwindling. In the meantime, the 19-year-old Fonyo—his run has so far raised $470,000 for cancer research—has accepted $5,000 worth of special protective clothing and a promise of assistance from Vancouver oilman Robert Carter, who was convicted of gross indecency involving two teenaged prostitutes last November. Shaken society officials explained that they intended to withdraw their logistical aid only in extreme circumstances, such as a blizzard. Retorted Fonyo: “If the sponsors pull the motor home and van, I will put a tent on my back and run if necessary.”
Signs of reconciliation
Since 1977, when Premier René Lévesque’s Parti Québécois government imposed restrictions on the use of English in Quebec with the enactment of Bill 101, court rulings and government amendments resulting from public pressure have progressively weakened the law’s force. Last July, Bill 101 suffered a serious setback when the Supreme Court of Canada declared unconstitutional the provision that denied an English language education to children who did not have at least one parent who had been educated in English in Quebec. Last week, the Quebec Superior Court struck down another rankling section that required most businesses to display French-only signs. Justice Pierre Boudreault ruled that, although it was legal to demand the use of French on public signs, the clause excluding other languages contravened the free-expression guarantees in Quebec’s own Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a result, businesses in Quebec now may display storefront bilingual signs. Alliance Quebec, the federally funded anglophone rights group that financed the five Montreal-area merchants’ original court challenge, said the decision revealed “a new climate of reconciliation where common sense is prevailing.” But the government promptly announced that it would appeal the ruling.
A painful legal setback
Since a court in Freehold, N.J., sentenced him in April, 1983, thousands of Canadians have objected to the 20-year prison term imposed on Bruce Curtis, then a 19-year-old Middleton, N.S., high school student who was convicted of aggravated manslaughter. Curtis, who insisted during his trial that the killing was an accident, was visiting a friend, Scott Franz, in Loch Arbour, N.J., in July, 1982, when a family quarrel erupted and Franz shot and killed his stepfather, Alfred Podgis. Curtis testified that he tried to run from the house
with a loaded shotgun after hearing the shots upstairs, was startled by Alfred’s 56-year-old wife, Rosemary Podgis, and accidentally fired the gun, killing the woman. Curtis’s attempts to win a new trial have received a crushing setback. Just two days before Christmas, the youth’s parents told him during his weekly telephone call from Bordentown, New Jersey’s Youth Correctional Institution that the state Supreme Court had refused to hear an appeal. That would have centred on arguments that the Curtis trial dealt excessively with the gory details of Alfred Podgis’s death, even though Curtis was not charged with that crime, and that the sentence was unusually severe for a first offender. Now the Bruce Curtis Defence Committee plans to stage candlelight vigils in front of U.S. diplomatic offices in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal on Jan. 20—the evening before Curtis’s 21st birthday.
Expelling a maverick
Before William Sveinson left the back-benches of Saskatchewan Premier Grant Devine’s Conservative government last April to sit as the sole Liberal in the legislature, he was known as a political maverick—and a change of political party did not alter that. Last fall Sveinson mounted a fiveday, one-man filibuster to delay action on a bill to expel convicted murderer Colin Thatcher from his seat in the legislature. Then the 38-year-old MNA again defied the party by delaying legislation to impose a one-year moratorium on farmland foreclosures, arguing that the bill did not do enough for farmers. Finally, last month Sveinson introduced 255 questions on government advertising, taking up to two hours of the legislature’s time. Provincial Liberal leader Ralph Goodale, aware that some party members consider him to be indecisive, attempted to show that he could act sternly when necessary. “I may be a patient and fair-minded person, but I hope you don’t equate that with a reluctance to take tough decisions,” said Goodale as he announced his intention to have Sveinson expelled from the party. But Goodale agreed to reconsider the matter last week after Sveinson, with the support of several party executive members, proposed a meeting with the party president that will attempt to reconcile the two men’s differences.
The traditional outlook
For the past 17 years soldiers, sailors and airmen serving with the Canadian Forces have been virtually indistinguishable in their sombre, dark green uniforms. Now, in swift fulfilment of Conservative promises during last summer’s election campaign, Defence Minister Robert Coates has paved the way for having some servicemen and u women back in traditional military dress by summer. Soldiers will remain in dark
green in the winter but will wear tan in the summer, sailors will wear dark blue in the winter and high-collared white uniforms in the summer, while airmen will dress in light blue year-round. The changes became public last week despite attempts by defence department officials to pull back an official announcement—to prevent a controversy over the $36-million clothing bill at a time of federal cutbacks.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.