Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen follows Svend Robinson's example by funding high school scholarships

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      The photo above was taken at the 2019 Vancouver Pride Parade.

      At that time, Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen was trying to help former NDP MP Svend Robinson mount a political comeback.

      In the 2019 election, Robinson fell 1,585 votes short of defeating incumbent Liberal MP Terry Beech in Burnaby North–Seymour. Undoubtedly, Beech benefited from the Conservatives dissociating themselves from candidate Heather Leung after her homophobic remarks were widely circulated.

      Remarkably, Robinson lasted 25 years in Parliament despite taking bold left-wing positions that ran against the grain of conventional wisdom in the mainstream media.

      How did he manage to do this? By being an outstanding MP in the riding, showing up at countless events, and doing diligent work on student-loan and immigration files.

      Back in 1996, the Straight reported that he reallocated MP pay increases from the 1980s to a scholarship fund. The money went to high school students in his riding.

      "Since that time, I have donated over $15,000 in scholarships, in memory of former NDP National Leader and Burnaby MP Tommy Douglas," Robinson wrote in one of his newsletters to constituents.

      Now, Chen is doing a similar thing.

      After being elected in Burnaby-Lougheed in 2017, she began funding annual scholarships for two high school students who graduate from École Cariboo Hill and Burnaby Mountain Secondary.

      "The scholarship is awarded to students who had overcome hardship and persevered through difficult circumstances—quite fitting for this year as many graduates are unable to have the usual final year of high school they’d normally have," Chen wrote on her Facebook page.

      This week, she tweeted an image of a letter from one of the recipients.

      If any other MLAs or MPs are also doing that, please email and we'll share that information with readers.

      Update #1

      After this article appeared, Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson informed the Straight that he's been funding scholarships to students since MLAs received a pay raise in 2007.

      They are awarded each year to students at Britannia, Van Tech, and Templeton secondary schools in his constituency of Vancouver-Hastings.

      Simpson estimated that he's given away about $24,000 since he started doing this.

      Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson funds scholarships at three secondary schools in East Vancouver.

      Update #2

      It turns out that several other NDP MLAs are also giving away scholarships to secondary school students. They include:

      * Spencer Chandra Herbert (Vancouver–West End), who's been handing out awards for social justice and environmental sustainability to graduates of King George in his constituency.

      * Since being elected in 2017, Bowinn Ma (North Vancouver–Lonsdale) has been giving scholarships to students at Carson Graham, Sutherland, and the Squamish Nation schools.

      * Another first-term NDP MLA, Ravi Kahlon (Delta North), has been donating scholarships to students at North Delta, Seaquam, Sands, Burnsview, and Delview schools.

      Rachna Singh is the sixth NDP MLA to step forward to say she's personally funding scholarships for high school students in her constituency.

      Update # 3

      Rachna Singh, the NDP MLA for Surrey–Green Timbers, says that she's funding scholarships for students at L.A. Matheson and Queen Elizabeth secondary schools.

      And at the federal level, Vancouver Kingsway NDP MP Don Davies has been awarding scholarships out of his own pocket to students in his riding since 2009. He always designates one of those scholarships to a student with diverse needs.

      There are three high schools in Vancouver KIngsway.

      NDP MP Don Davies pays for young people in his riding to go to Ottawa where they can see him introduce their ideas in Parliament.

      In addition, Davies runs a "Create Your Canada" contest. In this initiative, Davies has been bringing two students from Vancouver Kingsway to Ottawa every year since 2009 for a three-day tour.

      Davies pays for this himself. And the students get to see him introduce their ideas as private members' bills.

      Is it any wonder this guy wins every election he's ever entered in Vancouver? 

      Update #4

      Health Minister Adrian Dix also funds scholarships in his constituency. He's been the MLA for Vancouver-Kingsway since 2005.