Canada

Dosanjh vs. Evans: showdown in B.C.

The leadership of the B.C. New Democrats is now a showdown between front-runner Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh and Agriculture Minister Corky Evans.

Leadership hopeful Gordon Wilson made a dramatic move on Sunday morning - just minutes before delegates were to begin voting - pulling himself out of the race, creating a one-ballot faceoff between Dosanjh and Evans. The winner becomes the new premier of British Columbia.

Wilson, who has already been leader of two political parties in B.C. (the Liberals and the Progressive Democratic Alliance), said he was making the decision to end his candidacy because he knew he couldn't win. "I have learned from our members and delegates that they would (prefer) a leader with roots in the party," he said. Wilson has been an NDP member for just 13 months.

Wilson threw his support behind Evans.

The leadership vote caps a weekend convention in Vancouver. If it turns out as expected, delegates will elect Dosanjh as the first Indo-Canadian premier Canadian history.

Former premier Mike Harcourt is just one of many high-profile New Democrats backing Dosanjh. He applauds Dosanjh's record as attorney general and his deep roots in the party.

Harcourt says Dosanjh's Punjabi heritage won't be a factor with most voters. "Some have racial prejudices, or apprehensions about whether an Indo-Canadian can win in B.C. I think those are unfounded. And if Ujjal Dosanjh wins he will be treated on his merits, which is a great success story," Harcourt told CBC News.

During his speech to delegates Saturday, Dosanjh made several references to his childhood in India.

He talked about his grandfather's fight against colonial rule and how it led him to view politics as a noble profession.

On Saturday, the fourth leadership candidate, union activist Len Werden, announced he was withdrawing from the race. He also threw his support behind Evans.