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Vander Zalm in court over contents of his book

A B.C. Supreme Court trial is set to begin Monday in a defamation lawsuit involving one of Ladner's best known and most colourful residents.

A B.C. Supreme Court trial is set to begin Monday in a defamation lawsuit involving one of Ladner's best known and most colourful residents.

Former Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm is being sued by former conflict of interest commissioner Ted Hughes over material in Vander Zalm's self-published autobiogra-phy, For the People.

Hughes alleges the book contains false and malicious statements that defame him.

The former premier denies the allegations.

Elected premier in 1986, Vander Zalm resigned five years later as a result of the fallout over the controversial sale of his Fantasy Gardens theme park.

While acting conflict of interest commissioner, Hughes was asked by Vander Zalm to conduct an inquiry into allegations that the premier had breached conflict of interest guidelines in connection with the sale of the Richmond theme park.

In April 1991, Hughes issued a report concluding Vander Zalm had indeed done so, prompting Vander Zalm to immediately resign as premier.

In his book, Vander Zalm says Hughes was biased and politically partisan.

The trial is scheduled for 10 days.

In a January 2009 interview shortly after his autobiography was published, Vander Zalm told the Optimist the book was too controversial for mainstream publishers.

"I didn't go through a publisher because they wouldn't take it, it's too controversial. They don't like political books to begin with and my political book is probably much more controversial than any other political book.

"You get your money's worth, depending on your view of the content, of course. Some people will like it, others will not, but that's all right. I don't mind that part of it, it's history," he said.

Vander Zalm had been in the public spotlight the last couple of years as an outspoken critic of the harmonized sales tax and leader of the Fight HST movement.

sgyarmati@delta-optimist.com