Cancer runner Steve Fonyo stripped of Order of Canada
Steve Fonyo is seen in this file photo. (The Canadian Press, Chuck Stoody).
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, January 25, 2010 8:39PM EST
VANCOUVER - He finished Terry Fox's run across Canada and raised millions for cancer research, but in the two decades since then his life has been marked by run-ins with the law.
Now Rideau Hall has revoked Steve Fonyo Jr.'s membership in the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honours.
Fonyo, an amputee like Fox, was awarded the order in 1985 after raising more than $13 million. It was recognition of his 14-month, 8,000-kilometre trek on an artificial leg along the Trans-Canada Highway, completing the epic journey Fox had planned from St. John's, NL, to Victoria.
Owing to a slew of criminal convictions, however, the 44-year-old was stripped of the award on Dec. 10. A notice of the revocation appeared in the Canada Gazette on Jan. 23.
Fonyo, then of Vernon, B.C., was named The Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year in 1985, but his stretch of inspirational stories eventually took a negative turn.
The one-time hero, who lost his leg to bone cancer at age 12, battled cocaine addiction and depression.
He pleaded guilty in 1996 in Edmonton to more than a dozen charges ranging from assault with a weapon to fraud and theft.
He was handed a 18-month conditional sentence and two years on probation, and told to pay about $11,000 to two supermarkets where he bounced dozens of cheques.
At the time he was working as a mechanic in a B.C. town and told The Canadian Press he was hoping to write and book and get his life in order.
By 2008 he had racked up at least seven driving convictions including impaired driving, serving time in jail that year for the last offence.
The Order of Canada can be terminated when a recipient has been convicted of a criminal offence, the person's conduct departs from recognized standards of public behaviour or they have been sanctioned by a professional organization.
Other Canadians whose Order of Canada has been terminated include former NHL Players' Association head Alan Eagleson, after he was convicted of fraud, and lawyer T. Sher Singh, whom the Law Society of Upper Canada disbarred after finding him guilty of professional misconduct.
There are calls for others to have their orders revoked, including jailed media baron Conrad Black and disgraced Livent founder Garth Drabinsky.