The federal election is still more than six months off, but you wouldn’t have known it from the rally that took place on March 29 at the Ted Reeve Community Arena just outside East York’s southeast corner.
About 100 Liberals from the Beaches-East York riding gathered to help their candidate for this fall’s federal election officially kick off his campaign.
He’s Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, and he told the crowd that “public transportation and infrastructure spending” are the biggest issues facing Canada in the build-up to this October’s election.
Beaches-East York MPP Arthur Potts and former Ajax-Pickering MP Mark Holland both gave speeches in support of Erskine-Smith, with the former labeling him as an “idea man” and “the progressive alternative” to the Conservatives.
Erskine-Smith will be going up against the NDP’s incumbent MP Matthew Kellway and Conservative nominee Bill Burrows for the seat in the House of Commons from Beaches-East York.
This is Erskine-Smith’s first run at public office. He touched on a number of issues in his speech, and in an impromptu Q&A session with supporters, he took time to snipe at the Harper government while also addressing immigration, education and the environment.
“Our politics should be about ideas, not just winning elections. We are so divorced from an idealistic political system…. I struggle to come up with a single issue that the Harper administration has really addressed in the last nine years,” Erskine-Smith said, going on to call for “major investment into infrastructure and education.”
In a post-speech interview with the Observer, Erskine Smith listed transportation and infrastructure spending as “the most important issues that the federal government can address.”
“Municipal governments are overburdened by the cost of public transportation,” he said. “The least the federal government can do is provide them a stable third of support.”
The federal Beaches-East York seat was once firmly held by the Liberals: Maria Minna represented the riding for six consecutive terms for the Grits before losing to Kellway in 2011.
Erskine-Smith also revealed that early fundraising efforts for his campaign have been successful, saying that he had already built up a “$35,000 war chest” on his way to a target of $100,000. Matthew Kellway spent just under $69,000 in his victorious 2011 campaign.
Born and raised in East York, Erskine-Smith has worked as a commercial litigator for Toronto firm Kramer Simaan Dhillon LLP since 2012. He earned a law degree at Queen’s University before completing his post-graduate studies at Oxford. He revealed in his speech that he is taking a leave of absence from litigating to focus on the campaign.
The election is currently scheduled for Oct. 19.