Monday February 5, 2024 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 3:31 pm]
Political Analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
UPDATE February 6, 2024: Selina Robinson’s office was vandalized on Monday night February 5, including what Premier Eby called “hateful messages”.
Premier David Eby has removed Selina Robinson from cabinet. She was the Minister of Post-Secondary and Future Skills (being referred to in recent days as ‘Advanced Education’) up until the premier’s announcement at 1:30 pm today.
The reason for dismissal was Robinson’s comments during a panel discussion about the war in the Middle East during which she made comments that are being widely seen as Islamophobic. A protest was held outside the caucus room at the BC Legislature this morning.
Staying in caucus:
Robinson will remain in the BC NDP caucus, and Eby says he hopes she will run for the NDP in the upcoming provincial election.
To have her out of the picture come election time would be significant fodder for candidates of other parties.
Advanced education file:
In the meantime, Brenda Bailey (currently Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation) will carry the Post-Secondary and Future Skills post. There would seem to be some natural cross-over between the two ministries.
Eby said his long-term decision about leading that ministry has not been made yet.
He said the advanced education file has significant challenges right now including the federal cap on international students and ensuring that skills training is in place.
Apparently it was mutually decided by Eby and Robinson that if she is to do the necessary level of work in community to repair the harms she has done that she would not be able to also focus on running the province’s ministry that is responsible for post-secondary education.
Robinson has apologized:
Robinson has apologized unreservedly and is willing to go out in to the community deal with the repair that is required, said Eby.
On February 2 Premier David Eby said Robinson “used her position and her authority to essentially, in my opinion, to increase division in our province” and that he expects Robinson as one of his senior cabinet ministers to make amends in affected communities.
“Selina has a remarkable record as a politician… but she screwed up”, said Eby. He wants her to do the necessary work to repair harms in the community and to stay in caucus.
Robinson not running 2024:
Later in the afternoon Ms Robinson released a statement on New Democrat BC Government Caucus letterhead that she will not be running in the 2024 provincial election.
This is despite the premier’s accolades for her work in politics.
Robinson has also been battling cancer in recent years, though announcing in October 2023 that her doctor gave her the all-clear about a tumor that she had told the public about last year.
February 5, 2024 statement from Selina Robinson (released at 1:38 pm):
“There have been many discussions over the weekend with the Premier and many caucus colleagues,and together we decided it’s best for me to step aside as Minister of Post Secondary Education and Future Skills. This decision does not excuse my harmful comments, nor does it absolve me of the work I am committed to doing.”
“While I had previously decided not to run again in the next election I remain committed to my constituents for the remainder of my term,” wrote Robinson.
Just a few months ago the Premier had delivered accolades to Robinson in the legislative assembly for her leadership after the October 7 attack by Hamas, saying on October 16, 2023 that her work in the community was helping people feel safe. Meanwhile, last week on February 2 the Premier said that Robinson’s comments have “caused harm and made people feel unsafe”.
Over this past weekend, Eby has obviously come to the conclusion that the current state of this situation was becoming a political liability but his desire to keep her in caucus was expressed strongly today in his 1:30 pm press conference from Vancouver.
- Cabinet minister Selina Robinson under fire – editorial analysis (February 5, 2024)
- Minister Selina Robinson: true grit & big picture (October 20, 2023)
- No place for hate in BC says Premier (October 16, 2023)
- New Eby Cabinet announcement Dec 7 (December 7, 2022)
- Selina Robinson heads into post-secondary portfolio (December 7, 2022)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been writing BC and regional Vancouver Island political analysis since 2008.