Finance Minister Selina Robinson is an important cog in B.C. NDP machine

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      Yesterday, the Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer dished up a blockbuster column outlining a history of tension between Finance Minister Selina Robinson and Attorney General David Eby.

      Palmer noted that Eby had dismissed directors of the B.C. Housing board who had been appointed by Robinson. The columnist also pointed out that Robinson has "hedged on whether she will run in the next election".

      All of this came after Georgia Straight contributor Martyn Brown mentioned that Horgan had quietly removed Eby from Treasury Board on February 25—prior to the board's decision to give the green light to a controversial new billion-dollar Royal B.C. Museum.

      Palmer disclosed that Horgan had signed the cabinet order. Then Palmer opined that this was because "the premier had to remove Eby because he was not going to replace his finance minister", who chairs Treasury Board.

      If there's truly a schism between Eby and Robinson—and if she chooses not to run for reelection—it could pose a significant political challenge for the B.C. NDP.

      Robinson is popular within B.C.'s Jewish community—and for some, it's a point of pride that she's risen to become finance minister. Plus, she's one of the few NDP MLAs with experience as a municipal councillor.

      In addition, Robinson is one of the party's key representatives in the Tri-Cities, which the NDP swept in the last election.

      She initially won her seat of Coquitlam-Maillardville in 2013 by a razor-thin 41 votes. She dramatically increased her margin of victory in two subsequent elections.

      Neighbouring Coquitlam-Burke Mountain has gone for the B.C. Liberals three times in the last five elections, though the current seat holder, Fin Donnelly, is a popular New Democrat and former councillor.

      Port Moody–Coquitlam is now an NDP seat after Rick Glumac won in 2017 and was reelected in 2020. But it was held by the B.C. Liberals from 2009 to 2011 and from 2013 to 2017.

      No doubt, Robinson's effective work as an opposition MLA—she was one of the harshest critics of the B.C. Liberal regime—helped pave the way for Glumac's first victory.

      Meanwhile, the NDP MLA for Port Coquitlam, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, may not seek reelection. 

      It's worth noting that B.C. elections can be won or lost in the northeast sector of the Lower Mainland and in Surrey.

      If Robinson doesn't run and it's because she's not interested in working with Eby (though this would likely never be explicitly stated), it could leave a sour taste in the mouths of her many friends and admirers in the Coquitlam area. That would not only hurt the NDP at the ballot box, but also possibly undermine party fundraising in the Tri-Cities.

      It might also create a rift between Eby and other influential women in the party who feel a loyalty to Robinson.

      Then there's the Jewish community, which isn't large in numbers but which is an important part of B.C.'s arts, academic, philanthropic, and business communities. Robinson, as finance minister, has really stepped up to support arts and culture, not only provincewide in the budget but also within Coquitlam as well.

      Both the B.C. Liberals and the B.C. NDP have had a checkered relationship with the arts community over the decades, but in recent years, the B.C. NDP has focused far more attention in this area.

      It's not only due to Robinson, of course. MLAs like Spencer Chandra Herbert and Nicholas Simons have also been vocal supporters of arts and culture.

      Another longtime NDP supporter of the arts community, Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman, is also a member of Vancouver's Jewish community. Were he and Robinson both not to seek reelection, it could conceivably put Heyman's constituency of Vancouver-Fairview in play if the B.C. Liberals found a star candidate to run there.

      The premier's chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, is not Jewish but he has also built bridges with this community over the years, including when he was a member of Vancouver city council and before that as a senior aide in former mayor Larry Campbell's office. If Meggs were to leave the premier's office after Eby took over, that too would be noticed by some in the community.

      Admittedly, there are a lot of hypotheticals in this column. And perhaps Eby and Robinson will end up working very closely in the future—and none of these scenarios will come to pass.

      But Palmer's recent column raises many possibilities—some of which might not be so obvious to everyone in the B.C. legislature.