British Columbia

Former NDP MP Svend Robinson 'very seriously considering' federal run in 2019

Now 66, Robinson is contemplating a run in Burnaby North—Seymour — essentially, his old stomping grounds.

Now 66, Robinson contemplating running for Burnaby North—Seymour seat

Svend Robinson in a recent photo. Robinson says he's strongly considering a return to federal politics and if he decides to run in Burnaby North—Seymour, he hopes it helps the candidate in the neighbouring riding: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. (Svend Robinson)

Former NDP MP Svend Robinson says he is "very seriously considering" a return to federal politics, noting that his former party is facing challenging times.

Robinson, 66, represented the Vancouver-area riding of Burnaby for 25 years.

He left politics in 2004 after he admitted stealing a diamond ring from an auction, saying he was under too much strain at the time.

Since then, he has spent time in Switzerland working with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. After retiring last year, Robinson and his partner moved to Cyprus.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is planning to run in the byelection for Burnaby South. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

If he decides to run, Robinson said he would seek election in Burnaby North—Seymour and hopefully help out the NDP candidate in the neighbouring riding — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is expected to face a byelection in Burnaby South in February.

The NDP won Burnaby South by a little more than 500 votes in the 2015 federal election.

"I will do everything I can to support Jagmeet and support him in his campaign for election in Burnaby South. Hopefully if I'm a candidate in a neighbouring riding, that will be of some assistance,'' Robinson said on the phone from Cyprus.

Robinson, pictured here in Parliament in 2003, said he spent a month door-knocking in the Burnaby North—Seymour riding this fall and sent a letter to residents saying he is seriously considering a run. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

'Let's do this!'

Despite insisting he hasn't made up his mind, Robinson said he spent a month door-knocking in the riding this fall and sent a letter to residents saying he is seriously considering a run.

His letter closed by pointing out a nomination meeting will take place early in the new year.

"And then we will have to work very hard together over the months leading up to the election in October of next year to take back the riding. Let's do this!" the letter said.

Speaking from Cyprus, Robinson said he thinks he could add some veteran know-how to the federal NDP given the number of experienced caucus members not standing for re-election next year.

'I was fighting Trans Mountain 30 years ago'

Liberal Terry Beech is running again in Burnaby North—Seymour, which is set to become a battleground riding next year over Liberal pledges to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline. The pipeline ends in the riding.

"I was fighting the Trans Mountain pipeline 30 years ago because of the threat to the environment then," Robinson said.

"[The 2019 election is] probably the last chance we will have to really make a difference on what I say is the most fundamental issue in the next election: climate change," he continued.

"We either take the serious decisions we have to take to save our planet — save our country — or face very serious consequences."

Robinson said he hopes to make up his mind on whether he'll run by the end of the month. He plans to move back to B.C. in early 2019.

With files from Rhianna Schmunk

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