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 deliver on the smart, fair, and honest representation that I promised you in 2015, and I hope you’ll send me back to work.
Beaches-East York is home. I was raised by local teachers, graduated from 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 our sons Mack and Crawford. Before politics I was a commercial litigation lawyer and studied politics and law at Queen’s and Oxford.
I’m running again because I continue to believe that politics is one of the most important ways we can make a positive difference, because I’ve seen my own advocacy reflected in our Liberal government’s agenda, and because our Liberal government has shown competence in a crisis and delivered meaningful progress on issues that matter, including climate action, child care, and clean water.
QUESTION 2: What will you and your party do to reach justice with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples regarding the past abuses of the Residential School system, and will you commit to fulfilling the calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015?
Our Liberal government has made significant progress, with 80 per cent of the TRC’s calls to action for the federal government now completed or well underway. We will deliver on all of them.
We’ve funded Indigenous-led burial searches, and will appoint a special interlocutor to work with Indigenous communities to ensure justice for the thousands of unmarked graves.
Since 2015, we’ve increased funding for Indigenous communities by over 50 per cent. We’ve helped to lift 109 (almost 70 per cent) long-term water advisories, over 180 short-term advisories, and water projects are underway in every community in need. We’ve closed education funding gaps, and passed legislation to implement UNDRIP (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People), reform child welfare, and protect Indigenous languages.
Going forward, we will finish the work to end water advisories, ensure compensation for First Nations kids, support self-determination, address systemic racism in justice and healthcare, deliver Indigenous early learning and child care, and prioritize Indigenous housing, including in Toronto.
QUESTION 3: Given the high numbers of seniors who died in long-term care facilities from COVID-19 and the deplorable conditions many of them were found to be living in by Canadian Forces personnel called in to help, what steps will you and your party be taking to help protect seniors in the future?
The pandemic laid bare the unacceptable living conditions for many seniors in Canada. To protect seniors, we will deliver federal support to provinces in order to improve the quality and availability of long-term care homes and beds, implement strict infection prevention and control, and help to hire 50,000 new personal support workers with raised wages to $25/hour. We will also establish national standards for long-term care, work which has already begun, through a new Safe Long-Term Care Act.
We will also continue to increase the GIS for low-income seniors, enhance the caregiver credit, and take steps to help seniors age at home.
Finally, we will build on our work to prioritize home care and affordable prescription drugs through health accord with the provinces, including by supporting the elimination of health system waitlists, hiring new doctors and nurses, expanding virtual care, and creating national mental health care service standards.
QUESTION 4: What do you think is the issue in your riding that you can have the most impact on if you are elected MP?
First, I’m one of many Toronto Liberal MPs and this Liberal government will continue to be a strong partner for Toronto thanks to our collective advocacy. That partnership has included billions for public transit, child care, affordable housing, and climate action, as well as funding to protect our local waterfront.
Second, our local advocacy has helped to shape the national agenda on a range of issues, including more ambitious climate leadership, saving lives in the opioid crisis, an improved benefit for the working poor, modern privacy rules, stronger animal protection, and more. As one specific example, I worked closely with East York teenager and cancer survivor Helena Kirk to secure $30 million for pediatric cancer research.
Lastly, I will continue to do my best to work across party lines, to bring a sense of thoughtful independence to Ottawa, and to hold our government accountable for the promises we make.