August 19 1985


August 19 1985


An author and the law

His colleagues on the Law Reform Commission of Canada remember Jamaican-born Winston McCalla as a personable man and a conscientious lawyer who worked hard as coordinator of the commission’s study of criminal procedure from January, 1984, to the spring of 1985. Then, in February, after Canada Law Book Inc. published McCalla’s book, Search and Seizure in Canada, a scholarly review of constitutional changes to the laws of evidence, two law students from Montreal’s McGill University accused McCalla, 44, of plagiarizing research material that he had asked them to prepare for the federal solicitor general’s office in 1983. McCalla eluded bailiffs who tried to serve him with legal papers to launch a civil suit for plagiarism. Then, on Aug. 2, after a five-month investigation, the RCMP began looking for McCalla, who has apparently left the country, on charges of breach of trust and having defrauded the Law Reform Commission, a federal government body, of about $7,000 to finance his book. McCalla’s work on search and seizure is no longer available, while the author himself has become the object of a Canadawide warrant issued by the Mounties.

A dilemma in Dildo

Unusual place names are not rare in Newfoundland, Comeby-Chance and Joe Batt’s Arm among them. But last spring residents of the village of Gayside on the northeast coast decided that they were fed up with the joking insinuations about their sexuality that their community’s name provoked. They petitioned the provincial department of municipal affairs, which agreed to change Gayside’s name—to Baytona. That example inspired some residents of another Newfoundland village—Dildo—to try for a new identity as well. Dildoans do not object that the area is known as the birthplace of Shannon Tweed, Playboy magazine’s 1982 Playmate of the Year. But younger Dildoans find it embarrassing that dictionaries define dildo as an object serving as a substitute for the male sexual organ (Webster’s). As a result, this summer electrician Robert Elford passed around a petition to about 400 of the fishing village’s 950 residents and received approval for some other, unspecified, name from about 350 of them. But a backlash developed, with some residents arguing that they liked the village name. When some of them began harassing Elford on the street and by telephone, he dropped the whole idea.

Denying a crash theory

For the past seven weeks technical experts from four countries have pursued an inquiry aimed at determining what caused an Air-India Boeing 747 to plunge into the Atlantic Ocean off the Irish coast on June 23, killing all 329 people aboard. One theory is that Sikh extremists may have planted a bomb aboard the plane. Officially, the investigators still had no firm answers last week. But a front-page article in the Toronto Globe and Mail quoted Jack Gamble, a spokesman for the Boeing Commercial Airplane Co. in Seattle, Wash., as saying his company was satisfied that the crash was caused

by an explosion in a vulnerable part of the aircraft which instantaneously rendered the jetliner’s power systems inoperable. Insisting that Boeing—which has assisted Indian, British, Canadian and U.S. investigators—had made no such finding, Gamble said that in the Globe article “some conversational bits and pieces had been woven together to support a theory.” And James Boynton, Boeing’s director of public relations and advertising, also denied another point in the 4 Globe article—that Boeing had ruled out the possibility that a structural defect in the aircraft caused it to crash.

Enabling the disabled

In the summer of 1982 Florence Lesser knew that she was dying of cancer and worried about herself and the future of her 23-year-old son, Robert, who suffers from cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. Needing more assistance and to provide for Robert after her death, the Toronto woman applied to the courts for an increase in the monthly $1,850 in support payments that she received from her estranged husband, Mortimer. But she died before her application was heard, leaving her son—who now lives with his older brother —dependent on welfare payments. Last week a ruling by the Supreme Court of Ontario substantially improved Robert’s prospects and opened the way for the disabled children of other broken marriages to benefit under a rarely used section of the federal Divorce Act. Lawyers for Mortimer Lesser, a well-to-do Port Hope, Ont., businessman who rarely sees his disabled son, contended that his obligations had ended when Robert’s mother died. But Toronto lawyers Linda Silver Dranoff and Elaine Newman argued successfully that under the Divorce Act, a surviving parent is obliged to support a child over 16 who is unable to “provide himself with necessaries of life” through disability or illness. The court ordered Lesser to pay $1,700 a month to support his son, who now will be able to continue at a special education centre for disabled people. Noting that the award was probably the highest of its kind ever made by a Canadian court, Dranoff declared that the case should help to “make others aware of the possibilities of financial security for the disabled.”

A policeman in court

When Quebec City police constables Jacques Giguère, 43, and Yves Têtu, 25, were shot and fatally wounded while responding to a burglary alarm at an isolated suburban warehouse July 3, the ensuing hunt for the killer immediately focused on another policeman. Last week in a Quebec City sessions court, Sgt. Serge Lefebvre, 40, a 19-year veteran of the police force in suburban Lefebvre: veteran Ste-Foy, was charged with two

counts of first-degree murder in

connection with the deaths—the first shooting fatalities in the history of the 140-year-old Quebec City police force. Two days after the shootings a policeman was alleged to have telephoned his superior officer and confessed to having committed “a cowardly act,” and at the time of his arrest Lefebvre was suffering from a gunshot wound in the chest that was apparently self-inflicted. Judge François Tremblay set a preliminary hearing for Oct. 22. If convicted, Lefebvre would face a mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison.