Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Liberal Party candidate for Beaches-East York, answers four questions from Beach Metro Community News regarding this month’s federal election.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: candidates were instructed to keep their answers to approximately 150 words, and some of the responses have been edited to keep them as close as possible to the agreed word count.)
QUESTION 1: Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and why you decided to run in this election?
I’ve worked hard to be a principled voice for our community, and a vocal advocate for many issues, including climate action, poverty reduction, animal welfare, digital privacy, reconciliation, and a public health approach to the opioid crisis. I continue to believe that politics is one of the most important ways we can make a positive difference. Before politics, I practised law at a downtown Toronto firm in commercial litigation, alongside volunteer civil liberties work. I studied politics and law for eight years and have three degrees from Queen’s and Oxford.
Beaches-East York is my home. I was raised here by local teachers Sara Erskine and Lawrence Smith, I went to Bowmore and Malvern, and grew up playing baseball at Ted Reeve and Stan Wadlow. I’m now raising my own family here with my wife Amy and son Mack, and it has been a privilege to represent our community in Ottawa.
QUESTION 2: Are you in favour of a national ban on semi-automatic assault rifles and handguns? Why or why not?
I support a national ban. No civilian needs an assault rifle or a handgun. At a minimum, anyone who chooses to target shoot should be required to store these weapons at a licensed facility. Since 2015, we passed laws to strengthen background checks and better track firearm sales, and invested $80 million for border police and $60 million for programs to address gun violence.
Next, we’ve committed to ban military-style assault rifles, allow cities to ban handguns, and strengthen storage rules. Our community suffered a huge loss in the Danforth shooting. Reese Fallon was one of our Beaches-East York Young Liberals. I’ve stood with families and victims from the Danforth shooting to call for a ban on the private possession of handguns, I’ve written in support of action, I’ve raised these issues with the Prime Minister and Minister Blair, and I will continue that fight if returned to Ottawa.
QUESTION 3: What do you think is the issue in your riding that you can have the most impact on if you are elected MP?
We need a federal government that continues to be a strong and stable partner for Toronto. In our first term, we made historic investments in the TTC, $1.3 billion to fix social housing, and $34 million to protect Toronto’s waterfront.
Other national actions will also have a significant benefit for our community, including the coming ban on harmful single-use plastics, our National Housing Co-Investment Fund, and our investments in childcare. Simply, I’ve had the greatest impact when I have elevated the voices of our community. Whether it’s been gun control, the need for more passionate assisted dying laws, fairness in our immigration system, or new funding for pediatric cancer research, there are countless issues I’ve been able to address because of the many voices across our community. I will continue to elevate local voices and to impact public policy based on the needs of our community.
QUESTION 4: What do you think are the two most important national issues in this election, and why are you and your party the best ones to deal with these issues?
Canada has an obligation to lead in tackling climate change. Because of our serious climate action since 2015, projected 2030 emissions are down by 25 per cent. Our plan, endorsed by experts, phased out coal, put a price on pollution, slashed methane emissions, set new clean fuel standards, and invested billions in public transit and clean tech. Next, we’ve committed to net zero legislation, short term carbon budgets, two billion trees planted, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and more. We will meet our targets.
We also need to address affordability challenges and inequality.
Since 2015, we increased fairness in our tax system and basic income supports for families and seniors. 800,000 fewer people now live in poverty. Next, we’ll build on our National Housing Strategy, ensure no taxes are payable on your first $15,000, increase OAS for seniors 75+, make childcare and post-secondary education more affordable, and implement universal pharmacare.
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