An interest in health

Earlier, we reported Steve Vander Wal - political aide to provincial health ministers past (Colin Hansen) and present (George Abbott) - would be joining government relations giant Hill and Knowlton Inc. And whose interests is he know representing, you may wonder? Well, according to government records, Mr. Vander Wal is presently lobbying the health ministry on behalf of pharmaceutical companies Abbott Laboratories Ltd., Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. and Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. concerning issues of "drug access and drug submission." And he's also listed as being a lobbyist for Coca-Cola Ltd.

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Trail Mix: Holman nabs a Vinning
May 10th, 2005

By Monte Paulsen

As is so often the case on radio station CKNW, the majority of callers switched through to yesterdays’ on-air leaders’ debate strongly favoured the BC Liberal Party. And as has repeatedly been the case, at least one of those callers turned out to be on the governing party’s payroll.

The caller implied he was a parent, and began to attack NDP leader Carole James. But ace reporter Sean Holman recognized the caller’s voice as that of Steve Vander Wal, who has worked in the government of Premier Gordon Campbell since 2002.

“Steve Vander Wal is an assistant to Shirley Bond, who is the Liberal minister of health. And he’s right now up in Prince George helping Shirley Bond out on her campaign," said Holman, who writes for The Vancouver Sun.

"And you know what? He doesn’t have any kids, either. So I find this whole entire setup to be a bit disturbing," Holman said.

Campbell later admitted that he had asked Liberals to call in to yesterday’s show. This was the second time this year that a top BC Liberal staffer has been caught lying on air about his identity. Prem Vinning was forced to resign from a job in Campbell’s office after pretending to be "Peter" on a January call-in show.

(Uber-columnist Vaughn Palmer dubbed the now-familiar stunt “a Vinning." Like Ponzi, the Vinning name appears destined to be remembered in conjunction with the small-time scam.)

“One would like to think that average British Columbians could actually get in on this debate," Holman said, “and probably have far more important questions than political hacks…"

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