British Columbia

Svend Robinson officially nominated as NDP candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour

Former MP Svend Robinson officially re-entered politics after a 13-year hiatus Saturday morning when he was nominated as the candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour.

Robinson spent 25 years in Parliament representing Burnaby constituents

Svend Robinson spoke at his official nomination on Saturday. Robinson said climate change and the housing crisis were the two main reasons why he chose to re-enter politics. (CBC)

Former MP Svend Robinson officially re-entered politics after a 13-year hiatus Saturday morning when he was nominated as the candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour. 

Robinson, 66, began his speech at the Confederation Community Centre in Burnaby, B.C., highlighting his long history in the neighbourhood. 

"This is my hood, this is my place. And it's good to be back," he told a crowd of about 300 people.

Robinson's former constituency office was just around the corner from where he held the announcement, he said, as was the apartment he lived in with his partner, and the McDonald's he once worked at when he grew up in the neighbourhood. 

As Robinson pointed out, the riding has changed since he was in office. It now includes part of the North Shore, across the Burrard Inlet. 

But he also noted that the NDP has had some success on the North Shore, including the 2017 election of North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma. 

In his speech on Saturday, Robinson expressed his opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline, and his support for issues as varied as LGBTQ rights and Palestinians in Israel. 

He said his two primary reasons for running again were to tackle climate change and the housing crisis. 

First hint at comeback in December

NDP Party Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is currently fighting for a seat in a byelection in nearby Burnaby South, attended Robinson's nomination on Saturday. 

Singh said Robinson epitomizes what it means to be a New Democrat through his commitment to making people's lives better. 

"Svend is someone who's going to be in your corner," Singh said. 

Other attendees included environmentalist David Suzuki, New Westminster NDP MP Peter Julian and people who used to work in Robinson's constituency office. 

Before he made his decision, Robinson said, he met with party leaders and knocked on doors throughout the neighbourhood to gauge interest in his return to politics. 

Robinson first hinted in December that he was considering a federal run. 

Last Tuesday, he announced that he was mounting a bid for a political comeback in this year's federal election, facing off against incumbent Liberal MP Terry Beech. 

25 years in Parliament

Beginning in 1979, Robinson spent 25 years in Parliament representing Burnaby constituents. That all ended in 2004, after he admitted to stealing a valuable ring at an auction.

Robinson was the first openly gay MP in Canada, and was a major figure in the unsuccessful fight to legalize physician-assisted death in the 1990s.

He last tried to return to politics in the 2006 election, when he challenged Liberal Hedy Fry in Vancouver Centre. Fry easily defeated him by a margin of more than 8,000 votes.

Robinson said that for the past few years he has been working in Switzerland in a senior diplomatic post with the Global Fund to Fight  AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.


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