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Former Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Erskine-Smith won't run in next federal election

Member of Parliament for Beaches—East York Nathaniel Erskine-Smith speaks to reporters during the Liberal summer caucus retreat in St. Andrews, N.B. on Monday, September 12, 2022. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Member of Parliament for Beaches—East York Nathaniel Erskine-Smith speaks to reporters during the Liberal summer caucus retreat in St. Andrews, N.B. on Monday, September 12, 2022. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith says he won't seek re-election in the next federal election.

Erskine-Smith announced his decision in a Substack post on Thursday.

"I will be forever thankful to everyone who put their trust in me and helped to make change with me," the MP for Beaches-East York wrote.

"All of that being true, I also love my family more than anything and I plan to stay closer to home after this current parliamentary session. It will be time for someone else to step up and serve Beaches-East York after the next federal election."

Erskine-Smith's announcement follows a recent failed bid for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. He came in second behind former Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie after three rounds of voting.

Erskine-Smith said that it was "tough" to lose a close race.

"A strange mixture of feelings resulted: pride in the principled, progressive, ideas-based campaign we ran, gratitude for our amazing team across the province … relief that I get to spend more time with my wife and young kids, and disappointment that we missed an incredible opportunity to make a difference," he wrote.

Erskine-Smith was first elected when the Liberal government came to power in 2015. Since then, he's gained a reputation as a backbencher who isn't afraid to disagree with – or vote against – his own party.

(Left to right) Greektown on the Danforth BIA executive director Mary Fragedakis, Liberal candidate Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Noor Samiei, a friend of a victim of the 2018 Danforth shootings, and Julie Dabrusin, Liberal candidate for Toronto-Danforth, chat beside a fountain during election campaigning in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2019.

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith stands with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others during the 2019 election campaign. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The MP has disagreed with the government on electoral reform and expressed doubt about its use of the Emergencies Act. He also has pushed his party to move further on policies related to animal welfare and drug legalization.

"I wouldn't trade the last 10 years for anything else. It can feel a bit like pushing boulders up hills, but I've also had my share of success in shaping policies and making a difference," Erskine-Smith wrote in his Substack post.

One of his private member bills, C-236, sought to set new guidelines for police and prosecutors when dealing with cases of drug possession, with the goal of diverting people away from the courts and toward the health-care system. The bill was later incorporated into government legislation that became law in 2022.

Erskine-Smith said he plans to stay on as an MP until the next federal election. He didn't indicate what he plans to do after.

"I'm not sure what the future holds for me beyond that, and I'll be looking for new opportunities to make a difference," he wrote.