Bill Vander Zalm: Why I am speaking out against Gordon Campbell's HST

By Bill Vander Zalm

There is an unwritten rule that former premiers don’t speak out against sitting premiers regarding policy decisions. The reason for this is that being the leader of the government is a distinct and rare privilege. Once you’ve been there, you’ve had your chance to implement the changes you wanted to see, and the people who follow you are entitled to do the same.

But the problem here is that we have a premier who is operating more and more by stealth. The consequences of his actions are extremely damaging to our province, and in many cases, can never be reversed. The HST is just the latest betrayal—but for most British Columbians, it is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It is one thing for a party or a candidate to promise something, and then, after being elected to government, find that the promise was unrealistic, or that new information makes implementing it impossible. In such cases, even though the public is rightly disappointed and angered, they will often forgive such a “broken promise”. It is quite another thing to promise “not” to do something, and then to turn around and do exactly the opposite.

Such a maneuver is incompetent at best, downright deceitful at worst. Take B.C. Rail for example. Gordon Campbell, having lost the 1996 election after revealing plans to sell the people’s railway, promised on a stack of Bibles never to sell it, or to even contemplate selling it. The ink had barely dried on the new premier’s letterhead when he arranged for a 999-year lease of the railway and the right of way. That is not a broken promise—that is a total fraud.

Then came B.C. Hydro. We were told Hydro was sacred. Then, we were told that in order to make it more efficient and cost effective, it had to be run by a big multinational in Bermuda. But hydro rates went up, not down.

The list goes on and on. B.C. Ferries had to be made in Germany instead of locally. The Sea to Sky had to be widened before Highway 1. The Port Mann Bridge must be tolled. The Liberals will fix health care and end surgery wait lists, but now we see wait times will lengthen under massive cuts to the number of surgical procedures that will coincide with the implementation of the HST. It’s all just ploy to pay for big Olympic projects that are out of control.

Where does it all end? With a raid by the RCMP on the legislature, where now we see the possibility that e-mail evidence related to the criminal trial has been ordered destroyed—by someone. Who the premier won’t tell us, nor is he asking who himself.

Premier Campbell spent a ton of money during the boom times of the world economy on big projects—some would say wasteful. Now, when times are tough, he is clawing it all back with cuts to services and a new HST tax grab to pay for it all. He’s got it backwards—so backwards that British Columbians will face big cuts, higher taxes, and no infrastructure projects sorely needed during a tough time. The cupboard is bare because all the food was eaten during good times.

I say Gordon Campbell knew all along that he was going to bring in this tax. Just like he knew he would sell B.C. Rail, carve up Hydro, and cut health-care services instead of fix health care.

If the media or the Opposition had been doing their job, I might not have needed to speak out. But to stand by and watch it all happen without trying to save the province I and so many others love and cherish would be a worse mistake.

We have organized a non-partisan rally for noon on September 19, in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. This rally will be the kickoff for a people’s initiative against the HST. The initiative will require 10 percent of the registered voters in each constituency to sign on within a 90-day period, and could force the government to hold a referendum on the question of whether we want the HST.

We can’t let this happen. Join me in saying no to the HST. Together, we can save B.C.

Bill Vander Zalm was the premier of British Columbia from 1986 to 1991 and is the author of Bill Vander Zalm: For the People.



Sarah McSevney

Aug 21, 2009 at 2:18pm

How do I go about signing the petition?

Garry from Surrey

Aug 21, 2009 at 2:57pm

is there any web site for Mr.Vander Zalm or for the September 19 rally i can go to?


Aug 21, 2009 at 8:02pm

Zalm you are the man. BC needs a patriot like you right now. Thank you!

Gordon no relation

Aug 21, 2009 at 8:11pm

About time someone told it like it was!


Aug 21, 2009 at 8:40pm

well I'd never in my life thought I'd say this but GO ZALM !! his article is astounding to say the least ,Ijust never thoughthe had it in him,,it's to bad a couple of minor indicretions and the fact he was surrounded by dimwits of campbells ilk interfered in his premiership,,after reading his article here ,I'm thinkin' he maybe could have done alright and having been forced to say that out of conscience it doesn't hurt so bad after all.

No Effective Opposition

Aug 21, 2009 at 11:26pm

Vander Zalm was a terrible premier who is now looking good in retrospect. He's exactly right about there being no effective opposition party at a time when we need but are sadly lacking strong voices to hold the Liberals feet to the fire. As long as the NDP continues to pick leaders like Carole James, the Liberals will be the permanent ruling party.

Canada's Twin#1

Aug 22, 2009 at 4:31am

Way to go Bill you just touched the tip of Gordon Campbell's sh....pile. It gets worse. I'll address abit. E-mail scandel was not just BC. Rail
Gordon said, I"m aware of the situation in the Comox Valley I'll handle it. That's when the government e-mails and electronic records started to be wiped out. Have the evidence right out of a governments workers mouth. Next as the sh..pile stench is so toxic it brings you to the next one Gordos' drug development and the people being killed far to many in the Comox Valley. I had to go to the FDA for that one and the White House. Maybe you like to do a second rally in the Comox Valley because too many love this province and Campbell with so many UN violations just may find the next violation a matter of international prosecution.



Aug 22, 2009 at 8:46am

"Once you’ve been there, you’ve had your chance to implement the changes you wanted to see."

And therein lies the problem. Shouldn't it be to implement the changes the people want to see.

Rightwing Zalm

Aug 22, 2009 at 11:08am

Isn't Van Der Zalm a ultra-rightwing conservative who drove BC into the ground? He then paved the way for his socialist friends in the NDP to take over BC for 10 years and drive it further into the ground.

Rightwing nationalists never cease to love leftwing socialists.