B.C. Institute of Technology president Don Wright says he’ll resign to take a chance at becoming a senior bureaucrat in an NDP government.
Wright has agreed to serve as NDP leader Adrian Dix’s deputy minister and head of the B.C. civil service, should the NDP win the May 14 provincial election, said Dix.
“He was my first choice,” Dix said in an interview Wednesday.
“It’s a real sacrifice for him, because there’s no guarantee we will win [the election].”
Though it’s unusual for a party leader to fill a government job months before actually winning government, Dix said the move is necessary to help lay the groundwork to smoothly transition the NDP to office.
“When we become government the problems come to us and we have to be ready,” Dix said.
Wright has a long and respected career as a civil servant, having been deputy minister of forests under the Liberal government from 2001 to 2003, as well as deputy minister of education for the NDP in 1996.
He has a background in the forest industry and labour relations, and penned a 2003 report for government on how to overhaul negotiations between the province and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.
Wright has also sat on the B.C. Business Council, and has a PhD in economics from Harvard University.
Dix called him an “outstanding civil servant” and leader.
“I have spent much of my career in the public service and there are some positions that one feels obliged to take if they are offered, and this is one such opportunity,” Wright told BCIT staff, in a statement provided by the NDP.
Wright indicated he would step down from BCIT as of Feb. 27.
The job of deputy minister to the premier is one of the most powerful in government, and acts as an intermediary between the hyper-partisan government cabinet and the 25,000 nonpartisan government civil servants.
“I think for people in Victoria it will send a message of seriousness and purpose,” Dix said.
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