Ottawa’s maverick MP first to declare in Ontario Liberal leadership race

Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith is the first candidate to announce a run for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party.

The registration deadline is Sept. 5 and the leadership vote is not until late November, but Erskine-Smith announced his candidacy yesterday and is expected to file nomination papers today.

He has also released a three-minute video calling for “generational and grassroots renewal” of the party to take on Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives.

Independent approach

Erskine-Smith, 38, has represented the east-end riding since the 2015 federal election. In Ottawa he has earned a reputation as a maverick MP who is not afraid to criticize or disagree with his party.

In the video he indicated he’ll bring the same independent approach to Ontario politics.

His success in making a difference in Ottawa showed that “politics should be about ideas, that integrity and a sense of principle, a willingness to speak one’s mind should have a place in our politics,” he said.

Erskine-Smith has said he has considered running provincially in the Scarborough–Guildwood riding, which will become open when current Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter resigns to run for Toronto mayor.

Other Toronto-area political figures believed to eyeing a run for the Ontario Liberal leadership include Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie, Don Valley West MPP Stephanie Bowman, Don Valley East MPP Adil Shamji, and Don Valley East MP (and formerly MPP) Michael Coteau.

Another name that’s been mentioned is Erskine-Smith’s Beaches-East York colleague, MPP Mary-Margaret McMahon, who has also been a city councillor for the ward.


Julie Dabrusin, Liberal MP for Toronto-Danforth, has endorsed Erskine-Smith for leader.

“Working with him I have seen how he reaches out to listen to people, get them involved and build strong connections,” she has said in a statement cited by Erskine-Smith on Twitter. “He is the right person to rebuild our party and get us election ready.”

Currently the Liberals are stuck in third place at Queen’s Park with only eight seats, well behind the Progressive Conservatives’ 83 seats and New Democrats’ 31.