The media’s campaign against B.C. Premier Bill Vander Zalm continues unabated. For two years now reporters and columnists have been predicting his downfall, always hoping that their columns might help bring it about.
At first amused, then annoyed at a politician who actually believes that his Christian faith ought to inspire his public actions, the Toronto media people became alarmed and even enraged at the Premier’s attempt in February 1988 to stop funding abortions. Now they are looking to “get” him at every opportunity.
In late October 1988, the B.C. Premier addressed a meeting of Christian businessmen. What could be more mundane than that? Among other things the Premier pointed out that to follow Christian principles in government will bring unpopularity with the current media and political establishment. If Jesus Christ were here today, the Premier said, “He too would be low in the polls.” The weekly B.C. Catholic thought the speech good enough to print the text in full (December 19, 1988).
The daily papers, however, thought differently. The Toronto Star headed its news report, “Vander Zalm blames woes on devil.” (December 4). The Globe followed with “Vander Zalm tape vows “Christian government” (December 5). On December 6 it printed the cartoon “Vander Zalm is our shepherd,” on December 7, a denial by Vander Zalm of all the exaggerations reported by the press, and on December 8, an editorial accusing the Premier of self-serving to the point of blasphemy.”
Overkill, you say? Well, the Globe doesn’t think so at all. A Christian who actually believes that Christianity ought to influence society is such a rarity and such a threat that he must be crushed.
The Globe started off the new year by adding Vander Zalm’s caricature to that of Khomeini, Arafat and Mulroney (January 2). On January 5, 1989, the paper printed an article from Irvine Epstein, former chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress, attacking Vander Zalm for defending the use of the Lord’s prayer. The article was headed “The Lord is their shepherd, like it or not.” Finally, on January 6, cartoonist Jenkins draughted another hate-filled drawing. And that’s only the first week of 1989.