Trailblazer Svend Robinson, congratulates Kathleen Wynne, Canada’s first openly gay premier

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Canada's first openly gay member of parliament has publicly congratulated Canada's first openly gay premier.

On Saturday evening, Kathleen Wynne earned the latter distinction when she won the leadership of the Ontario Liberal party.

[ Related: Politicians react to Kathleen Wynne's victory ]

In an op-ed column he penned for the Globe and Mail, former NDP MP Svend Robinson wrote about how we — as a society — have come a long way.

"As I joined in the celebration of this milestone, watching the voting into the wee hours of the morning on the Internet at my home in Switzerland, I couldn’t help but think back to my own journey as the first openly gay MP in Canada.

[In 1988] there were no openly gay or lesbian provincial or federal elected representatives in Canada when I came out - indeed there were only four in the world at the time at a national level. I had solid support from party leader Ed Broadbent and caucus colleagues but the hostility and homophobia that greeted my coming out was incredible.

My office windows were shattered, I received death threats, and public officials and media heaped scorn on me, with then-B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm saying “I don’t know whether we should really feel so good about people influencing young girls or young boys in this way.”"

Robinson, 60, now works as a parliamentary outreach worker for The Global Fund — an international non-profit organization in Geneva which provides financing for programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and Malaria.

"The Global Fund has become the main source of finance for programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, in over 140 countries," Robinson told me in an interview I had with him for the Hill Times in 2009.

"It provides a quarter of all international financing for AIDS globally, two-thirds for tuberculosis and three quarters for malaria."

Robinson also continues to actively advocate for the rights of gays, lesbians, and transgendered people; he was co-chair of the 2009 International LGBT Human Rights Conference in Copenhagen.

During that interview, Robinson reiterated a quote from the day he 'came out' saying that he looked forward to the day when the news that an MP was gay was no more exciting than the news that she or he had blue eyes.

The election of Wynne, takes us one step closer to Robinson's dream.

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