Ujjal Dosanjh

Victorious in Vancouver

Although Ujjal Dosanjh, who was elected premier of British Columbia in March, is the only person of color to hold higher office in Canada, he does not consider his Sikh heritage to be a defining factor in his political career. Nevertheless, his public stance against ethnic violence almost cost the life of the 52-year-old human-rights lawyer and former provincial attorney-general. Dosanjh was left “bloody but unbowed,” writes Alexander Norris for London’s Gemini News Service, in 1985, when he was attacked and beaten unconscious after speaking out against the use of violence as a means of achieving an independent Sikh homeland in India.

Dosanjh left India at 17, spent a few years in England, and went to Canada’s west coast in 1968. There, he found himself among the country’s 3 million “visible minorities,” as they are called by the national census agency.

During his run for office, according to Kim Lunman in Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Dosanjh “campaigned on a platform of integrity and a pledge to civilize politics, and he will polish the government’s scandal-stained image.”

As the province’s highest elected official, Dosanjh has vowed to fight for measures to combat child pornography and violence against women and has supported human-rights causes such as gay rights. Finally, he has promised to cool down the province’s heated politics and introduce “a friendly government”—a kinder, gentler Vancouver courtesy of a tough leader, described by his son as a person without “one iota of cowardice.”