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Don Wright takes cabinet position in new NDP government

Don Wright is British Columbia’s new deputy minister of executive council, cabinet secretary, and head of the public service under a New Democratic Party minority government, after stepping down from Central 1 Credit Union as its CEO and president.

Wright had announced his departure from Central 1 this past May — two months before his position in the new provincial government was made public — stating in a media release that the organization needed a “CEO who can make a multi-year commitment to execute a new strategic plan. Given where I am at in my life, that is a commitment that I cannot make.”

Marilyn Mauritz, Central 1’s senior vice-president, general counsel and corporate secretary, was appointed interim CEO.

British Columbians went to the polls May 9, 2017, in a tightly contested election that saw the Liberal government win 43 seats, one less than the 44 required for a majority. The NDP, under leader John Horgan, won 41 seats, while the BC Green Party, led by Andrew Weaver, captured an unprecedented three seats. Results were confirmed May 24 after absentee ballots were counted. The NDP formed a minority government with Weaver backing the New Democrats by pledging a confidence-and-supply agreement. This means that the Greens will support the government in motions of confidence and budget votes.

Following the appointment, Horgan stated that Wright’s “ability to build relationships and his approach to challenging situations will provide great benefit in dealing with key issues we’ll need to address.”

Wright’s role in the new government will include appointing a team of deputy ministers, as well as helping formulate policy options and the implementation of those policies.

Wright has held public service positions before under previous NDP and Liberal governments and is noted for his non-partisanship. He has served as a deputy minister, senior administrator and policy adviser under former premiers Glen Clark of the NDP and the Grit’s Gordon Campbell.

These roles have included deputy minister of BC’s Forestry and Education ministries as well as secretary of the provincial Treasury Board. In the private sector, Wright has been president of the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and acted as chief negotiator for the provincial government in softwood lumber negotiations while he was principal of Analytical Consulting.

Central 1 began a search for a new CEO immediately after Wright’s May resignation. ◊