Friday, November 15, 2013

Number 33

In the 1979 and 1981 provincial elections, Ujjal Dosanjh ran for a seat in the Vancouver South riding representing the NDP. Both times, he lost to the BC Social Credit party but Ujjal didn't give up. He ran again in 1991 in the Vancouver-Kensington district and won a seat as his party came into power.

Dosanjh's first few years were spent as a backbencher but in 1993, he chaired the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills. He spent two years as caucus chair for the New Democratic Party until 1995. When Premier Mike Harcourt dismissed Robin Blencoe from his cabinet, Ujjal was appointed Minister of Government Services and Minister of Sports. A month later, in a cabinet shuffle where Moe Sihota resigned, Dosanjh was also given the responsibility of Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism and Human Rights. Then there was another cabinet shuffle with Sihota being re-instated and Dosanjh was now Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism, Human Right and Immigration and was appointed Attorney General.
As Attorney General, Ujjal Dosanjh accomplished a fair amount. He oversaw the resolution of Gustafsen Lake Standoff involving the Secwepemc Nation, set up a database for registering violent offenders, established a hate crime division in the RCMP and lobbied for more police officers, probation officers, and judiciary. Yet, his office drew criticism for closing courthouses and reducing legal aid.

In his duties as Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism, Human Right and Immigration, Dosanjh successfully lobbied for laws giving same-sex couples the equal rights and responsibilities regarding child support, custody and access.

It was in early 1999 that Dosanjh was brought into a controversial situation. The RCMP briefed the Attorney General on the plans to raid Premier Clark's residence in regards to the casino affair. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police needed Dosanjh's office's assistance but they placed the attorney general under a gag order, preventing him for revealing their plans. Critics thought that Dosanjh should have informed his party sooner than August 13 when the gag order was lifted while others applauded him for avoiding perceptions of conflict of interest despite his power to intervene.

As we know, Premier Clark resigned and a Dosanjh became leader of the party, Premier of the province and the first Indo-Canadian provincial leader in Canada.

From February 20, 2000 to June 5, 2001, Ujjal Dosanjh was B.C.'s 33rd premier. He gave priority to issues of health care, education and balanced budgets. The rapidly expanding gas and oil development industry in the province gave a boost to the province's finances. This windfall led Dosanjh to direct the finance minister to draft a balanced budget legislation. Since the previous year's budget was unexpectedly in surplus and this increased revenue was expected to continue, Dosanjh's NDP government was able to increase spending by 8% while staying within budget. This increased spending was mostly directed to renovations of hospitals, public schools and higher education as well as building cancer treatment centres, lowering post-secondary tuition fees and creating more new spaces in the province's apprenticeship program and post-secondary institutions.

Dosanjh was the first provincial leader to march in a gay pride parade and the province instituted the Definition of Spouse Amendment Act, which extended equal rights to same-sex couples. During Dosanjh's term as premier, the province also adopted the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Recovery Act, which permitted lawsuits against tobacco companies to re-coup associated health care costs, the Sex Offender Registry Act, and the Protection of Public Participation Act that prevents lawsuits against citizens who participate in public processes.

This all looks good and Dosanjh's popularity was increasing. However, the popularity of the party had suffered a blow after the scandal involving Premier Clark. In May 16, 2001 election, the NDP lost control of the province to Gordon Campbell and the Provincial Liberal Party.

In that election, Dosanjh lost his seat. (It was the second worst defeat of a sitting provincial government in Canada) Dosanjh returned to his law practice and let his party membership lapse. In 2004, Ujjal Dosanjh entered the federal political arena.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. It seems a lot was accomplished with this premier. Thanks for sharing. Also like the pictures.

    1. He did do a fair amount. I love the colors of some of those trees. Thanks for reading and commenting.