B.C. Premier W.A.C. Bennett prepares to shoot burning arrow to eliminate B.C. debt.
Source: John Mackie, This week in history: 1959–‘The burning of the bonds’
Vancouver Sun, July 30, 2015
As reprinted in Windsor Star

Wrote about Amor de Cosmos, the second premier of British Columbia. Encountered him referenced in article by Thomas Walkom on Bill Vander Zalm, “Re-enter stage right (Toronto Star, June 20, 1998, pp. E1, E4), relating to former B.C. premier Vander Zalm assuming interim leadership of the Reform Party of British Columbia. As Walkom highlighted some elements of B.C. politics:

For British Columbians, this harkens back to the heady days of the late 1980s when Vander Zalm was Social Credit premier and no one knew exactly what he would say or do next.

When he took office in 1986, the former suburban major just seemed normal for a province that has long prided itself on its eccentric politics.

B.C.’s first premier [actually, its second, the first being John Foster McCreight], Bill Smith, used the name Amor De Cosmos and was thought to have been mad.

In 1914, premier Richard McBride bought submarines for a B.C. navy that didn’t exist.

And in the 1950s, the province’s first Social Credit premier, W.A.C. Bennett, earned the nickname Wacky for his stunts–including an attempt to eliminate the provincial debt by shooting a flaming arrow on to a barge laden with B.C. bonds…

By comparison, Vander Zalm–premier from 1986 to 1991–was relatively sedate…

Even if Vander Zalm manages to remake his public image (as, he points out, the late Quebec premier Robert Bourassa did so successfully), he faces a number of daunting challenges.

B.C. Reform is difficult. The party, which is not affiliated with Preston Manning’s federal reformers, is so conservative that it repudiated its only two sitting MLAs after they voted for a same-sex rights bill.

One joined the Liberals; the other sits as an independent.

As well as having no official leader and no sitting members, it has almost no money.

Even so, B.C. Reform is tied with the governing New Democrats in the polls. And this is British Columbia, where political theatre has become an art form…

Recently the [B.C.] Liberals made headlines when it was revealed that for 10 years, one of their MLAs had been regularly writing letters to the newspapers praising himself–under a false name.

Paul Reitsma, alias Warren Betanko, was expelled from the Liberal caucus in April and is the subject ot a recall petition.

In this kind of world, the political reincarnation of Bill Vander Zalm seems more believable.

As eccentricity is relative to what norm…


About brucelarochelle
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