Bill Vander Zalm

February 11, 2012 by staff 

Bill Vander Zalm, Wilhelmus Nicholaas Theodore Marie “Bill” Vander Zalm (born May 29, 1934) is a politician and entrepreneur in British Columbia, Canada. He was the 28th Premier of British Columbia from 1986 to 1991.

Vander Zalm was born and raised in Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands. He immigrated to Canada after World War II, settling in the Fraser Valley in 1947. After completing high school, he sold tulip bulbs and ultimately established himself in the nursery and gardening business.

Vander Zalm was elected alderman of Surrey in 1965, and served as the city’s mayor from 1969 to 1975. His tenure was marked by his crackdown on welfare “deadbeats” (up to the early 1970s, welfare in BC was a municipal responsibility).

Vander Zalm was originally a supporter of both the Liberal Party of Canada and the BC Liberal Party. He sought election to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1968 federal election as a Liberal in Surrey. He lost by 5,000 votes. He was also a candidate at the 1972 provincial Liberal leadership convention, where he lost to David Anderson. He joined the BC Social Credit Party in 1974.

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