Selina Robinson quits B.C. NDP, citing antisemitism in caucus

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns
Selina Robinson speaks at an announcement in Vancouver, on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Robinson has quit the NDP, citing antisemitism in the ruling party's caucus.

Former British Columbia cabinet minister Selina Robinson has quit the NDP and will sit as an Independent, citing antisemitism in the ruling party’s caucus.

Robinson, who is Jewish, said she could no longer remain in the party because it was not properly addressing antisemitism in the province or among her former colleagues.

She resigned her cabinet post as minister of post-secondary education last month after saying modern Israel was founded on “a crappy piece of land.”

Her remarks on Jan. 30 sparked an outcry from pro-Palestinian groups that called them racist and Islamophobic.

Robinson told an impromptu news conference in a hallway of the B.C. legislature on Wednesday that her heart had been “shattered” by her treatment since her cabinet resignation, and that she was a victim of double standards.

NDP House Leader Ravi Kahlon said it was “a sad day.”

“Selina is clearly hurting. I certainly hope she finds peace as she moves forward.”

Kahlon denied there was antisemitism in the NDP caucus.

Robinson said she had asked Premier David Eby if she could work with Muslim and Jewish communities to promote dialogue between them.

She said she wanted to work with the two communities that were “in agony and pain and suffering and fear, and reduce the division that we are seeing because I think that’s the role of government.”

“The premier’s office said they weren’t interested in doing that and that really shattered my heart,” she said.

“If government’s not interested then I can’t be part of a government that chooses to be silent while people are suffering.”

Robinson said she had been treated differently to former colleague Mable Elmore, the parliamentary secretary for anti-racism, who Robinson said had “outraged the Jewish community” with remarks about the Middle East conflict in November.

“She didn’t lose her role as a result of those comments that were hurtful to that community, but I did lose my role, I was asked to step down,” she said, without further describing Elmore’s remarks.

She said this was “a double standard that has deeply hurt the Jewish community … and has hurt me deeply as well.”

Robinson, who has also previously served as finance minister, said she hadn’t heard from Eby or any other members of the NDP caucus since informing them of her decision.

Eby said last month that Robinson’s “belittling” remarks were incompatible with her remaining in cabinet.

Robinson had already announced her retirement and said she won’t be running again in the provincial election this October.

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By Dirk Meissner

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2024.

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