Friday, November 1, 2013

Saint Wilhelmus

I realize that today is All Saints Day and that Halloween is over. But I have a few more good photos to show you.

When I left off on Wednesday, MLA Bill Vander Zalm had made waves as Minister of Human Resources. As Minister of Education, he continued to make headlines.

Vander Zalm overstepped his authority when he personally intervened in local matters in Smithers. A school councillor, Madeline Sauve, distributed a Human Resources questionnaire to students and Vander Zalm demanded she be suspended without pay. Sauve lost her job, due a lot to public pressure put on by Vander Zalm's comments. The councillor was "publicly tried and convicted without the slightest hint of due process."

However, an inquiry commission found that Sauve was an innocent victim and suggested the school board find her another job in the district.   Vander Zalm stated he would do the same thing in the same situation.
In 1986, Premier Bill Bennett announced he was retiring. The charismatic Vander Zalm easily won the leadership of the Social Credit party and was sworn in as premier a month before the 1986 election.

Vandermania swept through the province in the 1986 election campaign. Bill and his wife, Lillian captivated the people of the province with their magnetic smiles, positive attitudes and charisma. The Social Credit party easily won another term over the NDP. Not that the party promoted a plan for running the province just a fresh start after the confrontational Bennett years.

The Socreds had been a tenuous alliance between urban fiscal conservatives and Christian conservatives in the province's Bible Belt. The fiscal conservatives had dominated the party for over a decade but under Vander Zalm, the social conservatives began to take control. Bill himself was a social conservative. His government had once tried to cut the public funding for abortions not medically necessary but the resulting uproar caused him to drop the program.

Vander Zalm created controversy within his own party as well. He appointed a close friend, David Poole, to be his "principal secretary". Before Poole resigned in 1989, it is alleged that he had become the second most powerful person in the province. Despite the fact he had never been elected. This angered many including an influential Socred MLA, Grace McCarthy who resigned in protest in 1988.

Then comes the conflict of interest controversy that Vander Zalm became embroiled in. In 1984, he had purchased a theme park, Fantasy Gardens. Tan Yu, the Taiwanese buyer, was provided with VIP treatment and lunch with the Lieutenant-Governor before the sale. Vander Zalm claimed the theme park was his wife's responsibility.

A Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur, Faye Leung, brokered the deal. She thought that Vander Zalm was a "bad man" and had secretly recorded conversations with him. Leung happily supplied these to the media.
Vander Zalm resigned as premier in disgrace in 1991. A provincial interest report by Ted Hughes found that Bill had mixed private business with his public office in the sale of the gardens. He was charged with criminal breach of trust but in 1992, the judge in the B.C. Supreme Court found that Vander Zalm had acted in a manner that was "foolish, ill-advised and in apparent or real conflict of interest or breach of ethics". The judge also decided that the prosecution had failed to prove their case so Vander Zalm was found not guilty.
Thanks to Wikipedia for the information on Bill Vander Zalm.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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