Beaches-East York candidate says he’s his own man

Liberal candidate Nathaniel Erskine-Smith wants to be clear: he is not running to be Justin Trudeau’s voice in Beaches-East York; he is running to be the voice of Beaches-East York to Justin Trudeau.

“I got involved because of Justin Trudeau,” Erskine-Smith said, “Trudeau is the only leader of a major party who has committed to bottom-up democracy, not telling candidates what to say or think, but really encouraging us to be strong advocates for our communities.”

Erskine-Smith added that he believes governing that way is smarter and fairer.

Erskine-Smith, 31, earned degrees in politics and law at Queen’s University before moving to England to study civic law at Oxford University. Since finishing his studies at Oxford, Erskine-Smith has worked as an associate for Toronto law firm Kramer Simaan Dhillon. Erskine-Smith believes his education and legal experience make him ready for public office.

“This is a serious effort after studying politics and law for a long time (and) after practising law for a few years,” Erskine-Smith said.

While he is a rookie on the national stage, this isn’t Erskine-Smith’s first run at public office. As a politics student at Queen’s University, he unsuccessfully ran for the Kingston city council, an experience which Erskine-Smith says taught him “everything not to do” on the campaign trail.

Erskine-Smith is only the second candidate to win the Liberal nomination in Beaches-East York since its inception: Maria Minna held the riding for the Grits from 1993 until 2011, winning six terms before the NDP’s Matthew Kellway ousted her from the seat. Now, in the first federal election since the NDP turned the ward orange, Erskine-Smith is confident he will win back Beaches-East York.

“Thomas Mulcair is no Jack Layton and voters here know that. The charisma that Jack brought, Trudeau brings in many respects. … If we keep working as hard as we are… I think we’ll be in very good shape,” Erskine-Smith said.

Erskine-Smith is also contesting the seat against Conservative candidate Bill Burrows, who is running for the second time in Beaches-East York after placing third in the 2011 election with 22 per cent of the vote.