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January 10, 2000
Big Boost for Indian Canadian Candidate
A P Kamath
The man who could become the first Indian-Canadian premier next month got a big boost when one of his rivals, former British Columbia finance minister Joy MacPhail, quit the provincial leadership race on Saturday. She endorsed Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh's attempt to become the leader of the New Democratic Party. MacPhail said Dosanjh now represents the best hope to ensure the NDP continues to be a modern political force and the natural home for people who value social justice.
MacPhail threw her support behind Dosanjh, the front-runner, at a news conference on Saturday morning.
She said Dosanjh offers the best hope to ensure the NDP "continues to be a modern political force and the natural home for people who value social justice." Public polls indicate Dosanjh will be the winner, but they also say that two years later, when an election is held in the province, the Liberal Party will take over. The party leadership election is being held because former premier Glen Clark was forced to resign a few months ago because of a financial scandal.
' 'New Democrats need a leader with experience in the party, who understands in his bones what New Democrats stand for,'' she said.
''I believe that person is Ujjal Dosanjh and I will work between now and the convention to help bring our party together around him."
Dosanjh, 51, said MacPhail has long and deep roots in the NDP.
"She lends a great deal of strength to our campaign,'' he said. "She has the same commitment I have."
But two cabinet ministers, Moe Sihota and Harry Lali, oppose Dosanjh.
Lali has publicly declared his support for Wilson. The controversial Sihota has yet to endorse a candidate, but is expected to back Wilson.
Lali and Sihota are Clark loyalists. Sihota is beholden to conservative Sikhs who vehemently oppose Dosanjh.
Lali has said he will back Education Minister Gordon Wilson who joined the NDP about a year ago. Wilson's Calcutta-born wife Judi Tyebji Wilson is also seeking support for him in the Indian Canadian community.
MacPhail accused the former premier of working behind the scenes to help elect Wilson in an effort to preserve what is left of his power base.
Would Clark publicly endorse Wilson, she asked.
She said Wilson, who led two political parties before crossing the floor to the NDP last January, is a "Johnny-come-lately to the NDP."
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