Robinson pleads guilty to theft charge

Friday, Aug 6, 2004

Robinson pleads guilty to theft charge

Globe and Mail Update

Former New Democrat MP Svend Robinson pleaded guilty to a charge of theft over $5,000 in a Vancouver court Friday.

Mr. Robinson faces a range of penalties from absolute discharge to a maximum of 10 years in prison

The seven-term MP for Burnaby-Douglas took a sudden medical leave from federal politics in April stepping down from the job he has had for 25 years after admitting to the theft a tearful press conference.

Mr. Robinson described the months leading up to the incident as a time of "severe stress," and said "something just snapped" when he pocketed a ring during a public sale at an auction house.

Mr. Robinson said he did not know why he took the ring, but was in agony over the incident. After trying to contact the auction house owners without success, Mr. Robinson called the police instead.

"I will not seek to in any way avoid full responsibility for my actions should charges be laid in these circumstances," he said in April. "I have sought and am receiving professional medical help to understand and deal with these issues."

Federal Auction Services Inc. of Brampton, Ont., issued a release shortly after the incident saying it accepted Mr. Robinson's apology and would not pursue criminal charges.

Canada's first openly gay MP, Mr. Robinson was serving as federal NDP spokesman on Health and International Human Rights and had been Deputy House leader since February, 2003.

A member of the NDP since the age of 14, Mr. Robinson was first elected to the House of Commons in May, 1979, to represent the riding of Burnaby-Douglas.

His former constituency assistant Bill Siksay retained the riding for the NDP by beating star Liberal candidate Bill Cunningham in the June 28 election.

Mr. Robinson recently signed a one-month contract with the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union where he will work to reduce the union's huge backlog of grievances and arbitrations.