NDP's Selina Robinson wants to be part of 'change for the better'
Selina Robinson has been sitting in a Coquitlam city council chair for the past five years but is hoping to win a seat in Victoria come May 14.
A family therapist, Robinson was elected as a Coquitlam councillor in 2008 and again in 2011, and the NDP candidate says Coquitlam-Maillardville residents are telling her they're looking for something new in government.
"People are really looking for change... change for the better," she said, echoing her party's election slogan. "They're concerned about the education system and making sure teachers are properly supported, and that children have the supports they need to be the best they can be.
"And I'm hearing that particularly with what is happening in this school district," Robinson said, referring to School District 43's struggle to manage its $13-million deficit for 2013.
She sees it in her own family as well, with children who will be graduating from post-secondary education with "huge student loans," and is concerned for young people throughout B.C., who may not be able to access further education and training because of the high cost.
"The NDP are recognizing that," Robinson said, noting her party's plans to restore the capital tax on banks to 2008 levels will "create a fund to help those young people... so they can get the education they need and fill those jobs."
Despite her two successful bids for a council seat, Robinson said she never planned to get into politics. Issues including poverty propelled her to run provincially.
"We still have food banks... and I think that not OK," she said. "Things like how we care for each other, so that everyone has access to participate in the economy.
"I couldn't act on those things at the municipal level so when [MLA] Diane [Thorne] said she was retiring, a window opened."
Should she win in the May 14 election, Robinson has four top priorities once she gets to Victoria.
One is working towards a prosperous, diversified economy that supports B.C.'s resource sectors but also invests in the province's workers by getting people trained for jobs today and in the future, and finding new ways to help skilled immigrants transfer their credentials to B.C. jobs.
The second is developing a workable poverty-reduction strategy (Robinson has been a supporter of the Tri-Cities' cold/wet weather mat program since 2007) through measures such as affordable housing.
A third issue is protecting the environment, particularly when it comes to transit.
"We know transit is critical to getting people out of their cars and we need an appropriate funding model for TransLink — it's not working the way it's set up. We need to extend the carbon tax and also take some of that and pump it into transit."
Robinson also voiced support for saying no to the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines, saying, "British Columbians have said clearly they don't support development of the Enbridge line and Greater Vancouver is not comfortable with being a major oil port."
Creating a made-in-B.C. environmental assessment process, instead of abdicating it to the federal government, would be a priority for Robinson, as would continuing to fight for a ban on cosmetic pesticides, a cause she championed at the city council level.
And while few would characterize the NDP as fiscally conservative, Robinson said the party's plans for a "modest tax increase" will affect only a small number of people earning more than $150,000.
"There will be no tax increase for small business and that's really important because it's small business that sustains us," said Robinson.