OLP Leader: I'm With Nate
On Erskine-Smith and Crombie
Who is this for?
I think it’s obvious who I’m supporting for the Ontario Liberal Leadership, and we’ll get to the “making the case for my candidate” portion in a bit, but I have to start with Bonnie Crombie’s entrance to this leadership contest since she is the news of the week. She has come into the race calling for the Ontario Liberals to govern “right of centre” and said that Kathleen Wynne went too far on health care and child care and dental care, and then she went on TVO last night to call on the Liberal Party to reconnect with rural Ontarians, harking back to the good ol’ days of Bob Nixon, who *checks notes* never won a fucking election, and opposed building apartments near transit lines in her city.
Oh, and she was asked for a male politician who inspires her and her two answers were Churchill (sure) and John Tory. Yes, the same John Tory who resigned in disgrace for fucking a subordinate who he had direct hiring and firing power over, and who has left Toronto in a fucking budgetary and civic nightmare because of how he ran the city.
So, I’m left to ask once again, who is this for?
What Ontario needs is not a politician seeking to protect the status quo for those who are succeeding under it, but a vision of a better Ontario for everybody. It doesn’t need a province who caters to those lucky enough to have housing equity either from their own timing luck or inherited from the bank of Mum and Dad, but a real answer to the fact that we need immigration in this country and maybe at some point we should realize they’re gonna need a house to live in when they get here. And we’re going to have to accept that making it unaffordable to rent anything near any of our elite Universities might end up making a lot of prospective Queens or U of T or Western students end up at McGill or Dalhousie or UBC.
The next Liberal leader needs to inspire, because the next Liberal needs to be someone who can force themselves back into the conversation for government. The reason third parties fail to break through is legitimacy and attention – and the way to stay relevant and in the news is not a form of technocratic NIMBYism designed to protect suburban homeowners from facing an equity drop.
Vision is what this moment calls for, and there’s one candidate offering it. It’s Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who I am extremely glad to support. Nate is a smart thinker, one of the Canadian left’s best brains, and he has the right combination of ambition and integrity to lead the party back.
Think back to 2015, and the caricature of Trudeau and co as this left wing outflanker of the NDP ignores the very real facts that Trudeau spent the first half of 2015 in political shit for being too right wing. For some reason the politics of the anti-terror bill Harper passed after the Ottawa shooting of 2014 have been exiled from the memory of that campaign, but Trudeau bought himself credibility with both his right flank of 2011 Harper voters and the 2011 (and 2008) Layton voters he needed to win on his left.
What the Liberals need is not a rigid ideologue of either the off blue or off orange direction, but a leader willing and able to look past narrow interests and do what’s right. Crombie is very clearly not it, because her brand of housing policy is designed to protect her and her friends’ housing equity at the cost of everyone else, and it’s an outrage. It’s also electoral poison, so any farcical idea that because she’s a centrist she’s more electable is idiocy on stilts.
I’ve known who Nate was since I worked on the Hill 7 years ago, and at first I thought he was a one trick pony, an unrepentant left winger. He’s not just that, and that matters. He’s grown on me for the same reason he’ll appeal to the people of Ontario – he’s a serious person, but more importantly he’s a man of conviction and humanity. You want to attack Ford on corruption and lies? The guy who stood in the House to vote against his government breaking their promise on Electoral Reform and then wrote an Op-Ed apologizing to his constituents for the broken promise is one hell of a contrast.
For those who think I’m shilling for Nate because he gave me his time for an interview this spring, you’re wrong – I wanted to talk to Nate because I think he’s the right leader. And his campaign so far has justified that belief. When I interviewed Nate, he talked about needing progressive solutions but also used the words “fiscal discipline” – he’s going into this clear eyed about the job he has to do, and who he needs to win.
The next winning Liberal Premier of Ontario – if there is one, as I pray there will be – will need to win over a coalition of St. Pauls and St. Catharines, North York and Nepean, urban leftwingers who love the NDP and suburban social liberals who don’t trust them. Bonnie Crombie is a one trick pony, and she might win the Liberal Party a bigger 3rd place caucus through NIMBY homeowners. But she will fail in the city of Toronto, she will fail in our university cities, and she will fail in Ottawa. I truly believe Nate can combine everyone and bring the Ontario Liberal Party back to relevance, and in time, power.
If you’re in Ontario, sign up to back Nate – he is the right candidate to lead this party forward. He is the right candidate to offer to be Premier, he is the right leader to build up the party, and he will make us proud to be Ontario Liberals.