COVER

A Getty family crisis

JOHN HOWSE August 29 1988
COVER

A Getty family crisis

JOHN HOWSE August 29 1988

A Getty family crisis

The irony was unmistakable. On Aug. 18, at the annual premiers’ conference in Saskatoon, Alberta Premier Donald Getty enthusiastically announced that he and Canada’s nine other premiers would sponsor a national conference next year to examine ways of strengthening family values. Later that day, Getty faced a serious family crisis of his own. While he and the other provincial leaders attended a buffalo-meat barbecue hosted by Saskatchewan Premier Grant Devine that evening, RCMP officers arrested Getty’s eldest son, Donald Dale Getty, 31, in an Edmonton hotel on three charges of cocaine trafficking and one charge of cocaine possession. The premier, informed of the arrest by his Edmonton office, quickly put up his son’s $15,000 bail bond. The next morning, before attending the conference’s final session, a red-eyed and visibly shaken Getty told reporters, “When Dale had problems in the past, we supported him and we’re going to do that now. We love him.” Added Geoffrey Davey, Getty’s press secretary: “It was a very long night for the premier and Mrs. Getty.”

Donald Dale Getty, who goes by the name of Dale, was born in October, 1956—the year his father led the Edmonton Eskimos to a Grey Cup victory as the team’s quarterback. The eldest of Getty’s four sons, Dale attempted to pursue a Canadian Football League career but was not as successful as his father. According to RCMP Sgt. John Metcalfe, Getty’s arrest followed a twoweek undercover RCMP drug squad investigation, after which another man— Neil Andrew Maskell, 32—also was charged with cocaine trafficking. The officers seized one ounce of cocaine, which Metcalfe estimated had a street value of about $3,500. Getty, who is married and has two children, and Maskell were released and ordered to appear in provincial court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 22.

Alberta’s opposition Liberals and New Democrats have criticized Premier Getty for proposing policies according to his traditional family views. But after last week’s arrest, New Democratic Party Leader Raymond Martin expressed sympathy for the premier and promised not to turn the incident into a political issue. For his part, Getty said that his son’s arrest underlined the need for political action to strengthen the family.

—JOHN HOWSE in Edmonton