For years, Peter Pocklington was a legendary figure in Edmonton. To say he was high profile is an understatement. He cultivated the image of a swashbuckling entrepreneur. He was a cocky car dealer, real estate developer, meat packing house owner, promoter of right wing causes, candidate for the leadership of the National Progressive Conservative Party and above all, publicity-crazed owner of the Edmonton Oilers during the legendary Gretzky years. Edmontonians and the sporting world affectionately called him ‘Peter Puck.’
On Sunday the Edmonton Journal published a sad and pathetic story about Peter Puck who for some years now has been living in California. The story tells of Pocklington welching on a commitment he made to junior high school students during the time he was still a leading citizen in Edmonton. See: http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=e1e4ab9d-75f0-4251-af64-161fbec42b24&p=1
The story goes that in 1997 Pocklington promised to pay university or college tuition for all Grade nine students of the inner city McCauley Junior High School who attained an average of 80% or better and who decided to go to university or college when they had completed their high school studies. He even shook the hands of the students who had qualified and gave each of them a certificate and Edmonton Oiler jersey.
Pocklington said he decided that McCauley students should be the ones to receive his largesse because he knew parents of children in that school could ill-afford to pay for their children’s university or college education.
Boe Lefebvre, now 26, was one of those students. He couldn’t believe his good fortune. He said “All throughout junior high, I knew I wanted to be on the list. For my parents, it was a huge weight off their back because there was no way they could pay for my education." Boe graduated from high school and enrolled at college. He fulfilled his end of the bargain. He racked up a total student loan of $11000 while at college. He is now married, operates a business and is working on a degree.
Alas, it has now been the better part of a decade that Boe has put the arm on Pocklington to pay up. So far, there has been not a hint of the green stuff crossing Boe’s palms. There have been sporadic communications between the two and some promises to pay, but still no bread.
Another young man who got stiffed was Sam Ngai. Sam was philosophical about it saying, “I wasn’t so much mad as disappointed, but I guess that’s life.”
When contacted about the matter Pocklington said that he had left some money with the Alberta Treasury Branch to administer the program, but the guy in charge had left. In Peter Puck’s words, "That is the last I know about it. That was 13 years ago, and normally, there is an end to these type of things."
Although Boe’s attempts to get Puck to honor his commitment have not yielded results he seems to be willing to continue the fight. He says “I knew this was going to be a longshot from the get-go, but in my mind, it all comes down to principle.”
By the way, until recently the famed Peter Puck was a director of the Fraser Institute. You remember the Fraser Institute, shurely. It promotes that hard right flim-flam about the perfection of markets, deregulation, rugged individualism, laissez-faire economics and other Aynrandian voodoo which is gospel to much of the business establishment. Why, the Calgary Herald even puts more stock in its studies than it does in the collected works of Stockwell Day.
As I have earlier pointed out in my musings the famed Institute has or has had among its real or wannabe fat cats, former directors and convicted felons, Conrad Black and David Radler, and senior policy analyst and admitted plagiarist Dr. Owen Lippert. Now the former director and welcher Peter Puck joins this distinguished company.