BC Politics with Hubert Beyer

Archives of British Columbia's most well read Political Columnist




Hubert Beyer, Biography

Hubert Beyer was widely known as one of Canada's most read journalists. His columns were published regularly in most BC Community Newspapers, and his perspective sought on the Federal level as well as by NORAD in the US, Beyer lived up to his reputation as the "Fairest of them All."

Born in a small village in West Germany, Beyer immigrated to Canada in his 20s where he married and had 4 children.

A German Language publication in Winnipeg was Beyer's first foray into writing in Canada, it was soon followed with work at the Winnipeg Free Press as a Reporter covering many different beats. more

Click to read the Eulogy for Hubert Beyer

Top Search: Forestry

Find out what Beyer had to say about Forestry in BC through the years. With the forestry industry supporting a large segment of employment and opportunity in British Columbia, it's no surprise that it's a top search.

Top Search: Elections

Election are always a hot topicAnytime the faintest hint of a provincial or federal election announcement draws near, the search for quotes and history on past British Columbia elections starts to climb.

Top Search: Budget Release

When is the Budget not a hot searchProvincial Bugets are introduced with fanfare and fraught with talk from pundits, experts and critics. Take a few minutes to see how BC Budgets of the past were often projections of the future. 


VICTORIA -- British Columbians have come to expect some pretty good entertainment value from their politicians, and the year 1988 did not disappoint them.

Premier Vander Zalm was on a perpetual roller coaster ride, dragging his party's fortunes up and down behind him, mostly down actually. And while there were no juicy sex scandals like in previous years, there was no shortage of political embarrassment.

There was the socalled Toigo affair, the Knight Street Pub scandal, the resignation of two cabinet ministers and, of course, there was David Poole, responsible to a great extent for all the other misfortunes that befell the premier and the Social Credit government during these past 12 months.

In early summer, Brian Smith resigned from his post as attorney general, claiming the premier's office was interfering in the affairs of his ministry to such an extent that he could no longer guarantee its traditional independence.

Shortly thereafter, Grace McCarthy refused to be part of Vander Zalm's new cabinet, also citing undue interference from the premier's office. In McCarthy's case, the interference had come mostly from Poole, the premier's principal secretary.

During the bidding process for the former Expo lands in Vancouver, Poole tried to get special consideration from McCarthy's ministry for Peter Toigo, a friend of the premier's. In the end, the government struck a deal with Hong Kong investor Li Ka Shing, but Poole's interference had done the damage.

Poole's incessant meddling got the government in trouble again with the Knight Street Pub controversy. It turned out Poole had put pressure on the chief of the government's Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to let an old buddy of the premier's do the referendum, necessary by law before approval of a neighborhood pub licence. It also turned out that this old buddy of the premier's fudged the referendum.

If all that wasn't enough, the premier repeatedly got himself into the limelight over his stand on abortion and his attempts to make the government toe the line in accordance with his own beliefs.

As the year dragged on, Vander Zalm's leadership became more and more shaky. His cabinet and caucus members began to openly criticize the premier's leadership. Socred constituency officials refused to express their unqualified support for Vander Zalm.

At long last, the premier took the hints, offered no resistance to the firing of Poole by cabinet and promised to change his style of leadership. He also promised to involve caucus members in the day-to-day affairs of government.

By the time the Socred caucus retreat in Courtenay came around, the premier had begun to mend some fences. The crucial test was now the Socred convention at Whistler. There were rumors of a leadership review, and some observers didn't rule out the possibility that he might not survive such a review.

But the premier had done his homework. The rebels never got off first base, and the convention gave Vander Zalm a solid show of support.

For a while, his troubles appeared to be over. He seemed to be listening to his new advisers and managed to stay out of major trouble, until news of Poole's golden handshake leaked out. Few British Columbians were amused when they heard that Poole got a farewell gift of $100,000.

And then, towards the end of the year, the premier put his foot in his mouth once again. He addressed a Vancouver meeting of Christian businessmen and waxed poetic about the need for "pure Christian ethics" in government.

At first, his advisers must have thought he got away with that one, until it was revealed that a tape of his speech had been sent to churches throughout the province. The permier had given his permission for the distribution of the tapes. Once again, he was accused of trying to force his religious beliefs on the government and on all British Columbians.

Against this backdrop of seemingly perpetual controversy, the government, nevertheless, gave a fairly good account if itself. The economy did well during 1988. For the first time, the sceptre of the recession which had hit the province so hard began lift.

As 1988 draws to a close, all economic indicators bode well for the coming year. The manufacturing sector is doing well. Exports are up. Inflation is in check, and the coffers are full. In fact, if the government decided to roll its privatization fund into general revenue, it would show a healthy budget surplus.

All in all, the premier and his government are in better shape at the end of 1988 than they were at the start. But they aren't out of the woods yet. The next 12 months will determine whether the Socreds can scrape another victory out of the voters.

If Vander Zalm avoids past mistakes, he may have a good shot at another term. If he continues acting like a preacher instead of a premier, he could be in trouble at the next election.

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