Bill Vander Zalm became 28th Premier of British Columbia in 1986. He was born and raised in the Netherlands and immigrated to Canada after World War II, settling in the Fraser Valley in 1947.
Vander Zalm was elected alderman in 1965, and served as mayor of Surrey from 1969 to 1975.
He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the 1975 election. He served in the cabinet of William R. Bennett as Minister of Human Resources from 1975 to 1978, where he continued his crusade against welfare "fraud". He also served as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister of Education.
In 1986, premier William R. Bennett announced he was retiring. Vander Zalm attracted considerable attention as considered a run for the leadership of the Social Credit Party. He generated more press out of the race than the other candidates did in it. At the party's convention he won the leadership easily.