Originally published in The Sudbury Star
: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2015/01/08/robinson-targets-economy-environment on January 8, 2015.
David Robinson won’t stop trying to teach, either in the classroom or on the campaign trail.
Robinson, a professor of economics at Laurentian University and the Green Party of Ontario candidate for the Feb. 5 provincial byelection in Sudbury, said he didn’t expect to win the riding when he sought the nomination, but local political drama involving more established parties – the Liberals and the New Democrats, in particular – may have voters in the mood for change.
“When I said I’d stand, I wasn’t really considering people would think there’s a serious possibility of coming up through the middle and they might actually think I’m such a better candidate than the others that we could win,” said Robinson, 67. “I thought I was educating, making the case for policies, trying to straighten out people’s thinking, and that’s still the first thing I think of doing, but there’s some real excitement in the party and people are saying – and maybe they say this to everybody, I don’t know – but they’re saying, ‘You really could win, you know. It’s such a shmozzle, you could win.'”
Joe Cimino won Sudbury for the NDP in the June 12 provincial election, but resigned after less than six months on the job, citing undisclosed personal reasons.
Andrew Olivier, the Liberal candidate who lost to Cimino by less than 1,000 votes, planned to seek the nomination once again, but later bowed out, saying he was pressured not to run by the premier’s office and high-powered local Liberals.
The reason became apparent when MP Glenn Thibeault left the federal NDP caucus and was appointed by Premier Kathleen Wynne to run for the provincial Grits.
“There’s a lot of people who are just disgusted with the traditional parties, both the Liberals and the NDP,” Robinson said. “But I’m worried the result of that is going to be a campaign that focuses on people and on bad behaviour and not on issues, because I’d really like to focus on big issues. I think my role in this campaign, more than anything else, is to bring up the biggest issues and some of the biggest opportunities for the city.”
Robinson had planned to seek the federal nomination for this fall, but decided to run provincially after Cimino stepped down.
He captured the nomination at a meeting on Tuesday.
It will be an uphill battle, he said, when the government can make timely local investments such as the $26.7 million set aside for the Maley Drive extension.
“I mean really, that’s a bribe, isn’t it?” Robinson said. “And it’s a throwaway, because the Maley Drive extension is just an economic disaster and a fiscal disaster, but the Green Party can’t offer that much of a bribe.”
Robinson plans to focus on the economy and the environment – both of which will benefit, he said, from a carbon fee and dividend system.
“There are a lot of economic reasons for that and I can tell you one of them right now: You’ve heard all of this crying about how these companies are sitting on all of this dead money, all these profits that they’re not reinvesting. That’s a big problem, because as long as they don’t see markets expanding, they’re not going to re-invest. If you start taxing some of that money they have, taxing the carbon, and giving it back to people to spend, you beef up the economy, you create a whole bunch of jobs and you solve the climate problem.”
He hopes his background as an economist helps him sell the idea of a carbon tax – labelled a job-killer by opponents, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“That’s what I’m gambling on,” Robinson said. “I have a reputation as an economist and someone who is committed to the city and has done some things for the city, and I’m hoping people will listen to a proper economic analysis from me, because they’ve been getting absolute garbage from the NDP and the Liberals, and they’ve been getting straight-out lies from the Conservatives.”
Robinson, who has been at Laurentian for 27 years, was an NDP supporter since the 1960s before switching to the Greens more recently.
“I never thought I was going to run,” he said. “I’m an academic and I have a career and I’m late in my career and I’ve got books I want to write, so I wasn’t planning to do this. But I’m upset with the real failure to come to terms with serious issues. I feel like I’ve got a reputation, so I’m going to spend some of my brand capital or whatever you want to call it on trying to promote some important things. It seemed like it was worth it.”