Summer 2021 - HUM 350 D100

Special Topics: Great Figures in the Humanistic Tradition (4)

Canadian Politics, People & Passion: 1980-2004

Class Number: 3599

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 1:30 PM – 4:50 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



An interdisciplinary study of the life and works of an individual who has made a lasting contribution to the humanistic tradition in more than one field of endeavour (e.g. philosophy, politics, literature, economics, religion). This course may be repeated once for credit. Students with credit for this topic under another Humanities course number may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


Canadian Politics, People and Passion: Svend Robinson’s Political Journey 1980 – 2004

This seminar will explore the political life and times of Svend Robinson, who served for over 25 years as an NDP Member of Parliament, one of the highest profile MPs of his time. He was the first openly gay MP, coming out at the height of the AIDS pandemic in 1988, and remains the only MP in Canadian history to have been imprisoned for civil disobedience arising from his solidarity with environmental struggles at Haida Gwaii and Clayoquot Sound. Svend played a leading role in the 1981 Constitutional debates, including the Charter of Rights, and later battles in Parliament, the Courts, and on the front lines of struggles for economic, social and environmental justice and human rights in Canada and internationally. Svend will share insights on the key political players, and experiences and lessons learned, on a wide range of issues including LGBT equality, working with Sue Rodriguez on the right to die with dignity, Indigenous rights, reproductive rights and sexual freedom, environmental activism, and international human rights. Students will be encouraged to engage actively in debate and discussion on these and other themes. A number of prominent guest speakers will also be invited.


Students will have a unique inside perspective on the key players and issues of Canadian politics over the course of Svend’s quarter century in federal politics, under Prime Ministers Clark, Trudeau, Turner, Mulroney, Chretien and Martin, and NDP Leaders Ed Broadbent, Audrey McLaughlin, Alexa McDonough and Jack Layton. They will be able to compare and contrast the struggles in Parliament, in the political backrooms, and on the front lines for radical political change, and apply the lessons learned to today’s challenges in the face of climate emergency, growing inequality, and the Covid pandemic.


  • Participation 25%
  • Group Presentation 25%
  • Final Essay proposal 10%
  • Final Essay (2500 word) 40%



Graeme Truelove Svend Robinson A Life in Politics (will be available as E-Book)

All other readings will be available on Canvas. 
ISBN: 9781554200726

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Teaching at SFU in summer 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods, but we will continue to have in-person experiential activities for a selection of courses.  Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112).