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British Columbia NDP leader Adrian Dix appears at a news conference at Science World in Vancouver on Feb. 11, 2013.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

The president of the B.C. Institute of Technology is stepping down to help prepare the province's New Democratic Party for a possible transition to government.

If the NDP win the May 14 election, Don Wright will serve as the deputy minister to the premier and as the head of the civil service.

It's a key appointment choice, but an unusual tactic to announce three months in advance of the election. In naming Mr. Wright's potential role now, Mr. Dix is building on efforts to counter his critics who argue that a return to NDP government would destabilize the province at a time when the economy is fragile.

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A former forest industry executive and a senior member of the Business Council of B.C., Mr. Wright has built a reputation as a non-partisan, working in both the private and public sector. He has also taught economics at Harvard University.

In an interview, NDP Leader Adrian Dix noted there is no guarantee of a job for Mr. Wright.

"I'm somewhat superstitious about these things," he said. "It is up to the voters. But it's our duty to be ready."

The NDP opposition has been running well ahead of the governing Liberals in the polls, but Mr. Dix has cautioned his supporters that the gap will close before voting day.

He said he consulted with Mr. Wright about his skills and training platform, and first broached the prospective appointment late last year.

"He was my number one choice," Mr. Dix said. "He will lead a non-partisan public service."

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