Saying he has had enough of the ''bumps and bruises of political life,'' Bill Vander Zalm announces he will resign as B.C.'s premier as soon as a new leader from the Social Credit party can be chosen.
The announcement came days before provincial conflict-of-interest commissioner Ted Hughes released the results of his investigation into whether the premier mixed public and private business during the operation and sale of his former Fantasy Gardens theme park in Richmond. He and his wife Lillian had purchased the land in 1984 and transformed it from a small botanical gardens into a European-style shopping village, a display gardens and a biblical theme park.
Vander Zalm was subdued throughout the brief press conference, insisting he was frustrated but not bitter over the controversy that accompanied the $16-million sale of his Richmond theme park to Taiwanese billionaire Tan Yu the previous summer, which involved accepting a $20,000 payment in cash.
Vander Zalm said he planned to meet with his caucus and party directors in a few days to request that a leadership convention be held as soon as possible.
This is not the first time that Vander Zalm, a fundamentalist Roman Catholic, had used Good Friday, which commemorates the crucifixion of Christ, for a major political announcement. In 1983, he chose the Christian holy day to announce his resignation from former premier Bill Bennett's cabinet after alienating most of his fellow ministers by calling them “gutless.”
Vander Zalm was eventually charged with criminal breach of trust, but found not guilty in B.C. Supreme Court. The judge ruled the former premier had acted a manner that was “foolish, ill-advised and in apparent or real conflict of interest or breach of ethics” but that the prosecution had not proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.