Nathaniel Erskine-Smith

Your member of parliament for

Beaches-East York

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith

Your member of parliament for

Beaches-East York


4th IPU Global Conference of Young MPs

A transcript of Nate's opening remarks at the Inter-Parliamentary Union's 4th Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians, hosted in Ottawa.

Nate helped to open the 4th Global Conference of Young MPs in Ottawa (November 17-18), and also participated in a panel discussion on basic income supports and reducing poverty, alongside Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Professor Jennifer Robson. 

Here are his opening remarks:

Welcome. Bienvenue.

Thanks to my fellow young MPs, and really to everyone, for coming to this conference and to Canada. And a special thanks to all of the staff at the IPU and here in our Parliament for their hard work in making this weekend happen.

I’m particularly honoured to welcome our new IPU President, a young parliamentarian from Mexico.

Young leadership can be found here in Canada as well, as every leader of our three official parties – including our Prime Minister – are all young MPs as determined by the IPU. Though we still have much work to do, with less than 25% of our House of Commons under the age of 45.

The theme of this 4th global conference of young MPs is the question of how we can drive inclusion.

That is a broad question, and we will cover a lot of ground. But allow me to set three goals for us over the next two days.

The first goal: to reaffirm our commitment to more inclusive representation in our representative democracies.

That means youth better reflected in our parliaments, it means more women in our parliaments – and men who believe in gender equality – and it means more diversity in our parliaments. These ideas are rightly a regular focus of these assemblies, and we need to ensure they become realities. They are also, at times, intertwined: for example, as IPU research shows us: representation of the two sexes is more balanced among the youngest MPs in each parliament.

The second goal: to debate and learn new ideas as we seek to build inclusive politics, economies, and societies.

As different countries around the world grow increasingly insular, we will debate migration and refugee policies. Our focus will be on how countries can remain open to the world.

As automation and precarious employment threaten income security, we will debate different means of ensuring that everyone benefits from economic growth, from the meaning of progressive trade to the idea of a basic income to free people around the world from poverty.

As governments across all regions continue to spend enormous sums of tax revenue, and as younger generations face increased costs of living in comparison to those who came before us, we will debate how government spending affects different generations and the question of equity across those generations.

The third goal: to get to know one another better.

The stronger our relationships, the better chance we have of succeeding together through co-operation.

Today, global co-operation and dialogue are crucial.

Our efforts in tackling the real and pressing threat of climate change depend on co-operation.

Our efforts to eliminate global tax evasion and corruption, and to increase transparency, depend on co-operation.

Our efforts to prevent mass atrocities, and more, to bring peace to our world, depend on co-operation.

On this last point, there are two important considerations.

First, peace depends upon respect for human rights of all people. We should each reflect on our own country’s failures in this regard, if we are to have serious conversations about the failures of any other country. Over Canada’s 150 years, we have more than one failure, but the most damning is our historical mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples, and we need to remain committed to reconciliation.

Second, and perhaps idealistically, we do not discuss the goal of peace enough.

The IPU was originally founded in the late 19th century with the idea that parliamentarians should come together, to get to know each other better, and thus help to maintain peace.

This object is all the more important for young parliamentarians like us. Regardless of the subject under discussion, these assemblies present us with a unique opportunity to build relationships with one another so that we can help each other, and rely upon each other, into the future.

Some of you will be the next leaders of your countries. The bonds you continue to build with the next leaders of other countries have the potential to change our world for the better. Don’t underestimate the opportunity.

With that, I thank you again for braving the Canadian cold to be with us, as we reaffirm our commitment to equality, debate new ideas, and get to know one another better, bringing our world closer to the prospect of peace.