Canada

The kid had such promise

JUDITH TIMSON January 24 1977
Canada

The kid had such promise

JUDITH TIMSON January 24 1977

The kid had such promise

Canada

B.C.

“I had confidence something was going to happen,” said the young BC ministerial aide, “and that I was a part of making that happen.” Art Weeks, a special adviser to Economic Development Minister Don Phillips and a well-known member of Premier Bill Bennett’s political inner sanctum, was explaining his involvement in the Grizzly Valley Pipeline affair, a political imbroglio that badly scarred what had otherwise looked like the start this month of a promising new legislative session for the year-old Social Credit government. Weeks’s role in the affair surfaced when it was learned he had worked on a government decision to approve a $ 100-million natural gas pipeline in northern BC’s Grizzly Valley area and then purhased 3,000 shares of a company standing to gain from the deal, before the decision was made public last December 10. “1 think in time they’ll be worth a lot,” Weeks said modestly of his shares of Cheyenne Petroleum Ltd. Weeks bought last summer at an average $1.20 a share and the stock was selling at two dollars a share in early January. Weeks argued he had done nothing wrong and refused to resign when his purchases became known. He was subsequently fired in late December. By mid-January, after three more government employees had lost their jobs for similar dabbling in the market, it became clear that what Weeks had “made happen” was a bit more than even he had bargained for.

Acting swiftly. Premier Bill Bennett named BC Supreme Court Justice Walter Kirke Smith to head a public inquiry in late January into “any wrongdoing” in the

affair, including land speculation along the proposed pipeline route a'nd influence peddling.

It was a Social Credit MLA who blew the whistle on Weeks. Tired of hearing gossip hot oft’ the cocktail circuit about Weeks’s stock involvement, MLA Stephen Rogers (Vancouver South) bumping into Attorney General Garde Gardom at a Vancouver liquor store, blurted out the story and asked him to look into it. A government probe under the Securities Act began, with the help of the RCMP, on December 16, and less than a week later Weeks was fired by an order-in-council.

In the meantime, another Phillips employee, Art Cameron, his constituency secretary in Dawson Creek, had resigned in a hurry, admitting he held shares in Quasar Petroleum Ltd., another company with holdings in the gas fields.

Bennett has so far resisted demands that Phillips, the man whose employees made the trouble, should resign. Although Phillips says his men merely committed “indiscretions,” his own judgment in hiring Weeks in the first place has been called into question. Weeks had been a researcher with the Social Credit caucus credited with performing some campaign “dirty tricks” during 1975. He finally quit after admitting he doctored a campaign donation cheque to former NDP minister of human resources Norman Levi to make it look as though it had been cashed personally. “I like the way he gets things done,” Phillips had said of Weeks when he asked him to reenter the Socred fold as his assistant. That was the last public compliment paid to Weeks, a 32-year-old former publisher of a small-town newspaper. Meanwhile, Weeks himself had become more circumspect. Contacted by telephone and asked to confirm a simple matter—his age—Weeks hastily said no comment and hungup. JUDITH TIMSON