Svend Robinson has been named the coming school year’s J.S. Woodsworth resident scholar at SFU’s humanities department.
The former NDP member of Parliament called J.S. Woodsworth one of his “political heroes” in an announcement on the SFU website. Along with pioneering the Canada Pension Plan and employment insurance, Woodsworth was a founder of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation, the precursor party to the NDP.
“(Woodsworth) fought for peace, economic and social justice, and a better world, and laid the foundation for the NDP, the party I represented in Parliament for over a quarter of a century,” said Robinson. “I look forward to engaging with the dynamic SFU community, students, faculty, and staff, sharing my experience as an MP and learning from them in return.”
In its announcement, SFU noted its own history of fighting for social justice and its label as a “radical campus,” as well as the work of Woodsworth, who was a clergyman, social reformer and MP.
Robinson, himself, has a few firsts in social justice, including being the first openly gay MP and the only MP to be imprisoned for civil disobedience, stemming from protests at Clayoquot Sound in 1993.
The university also cited Robinson’s experiences, including standing in solidarity with Cuba and the people of Palestine, being adopted into the Haida Nation, running for NDP leadership and tackling large pharmaceuticals.
Those experiences “bring an important perspective that will enrich ongoing discussions within and beyond the university community,” according to the SFU announcement.
Most recently, Robinson mounted a comeback attempt for the federal Burnaby North-Seymour riding but lost to Liberal incumbent Terry Beech.
The J.S. Woodsworth resident scholar is a one-year term that involves teaching – he will teach a seminar in the spring – and community outreach with the university.