Nathaniel Erskine-Smith

Your member of parliament for


Beaches-East York

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith

Your member of parliament for


Beaches-East York

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Voting record

As there have been a number of articles in the media covering my voting record and highlighting my independence, I’ve created this page for constituents to more easily find my rationale for dissenting votes.

So, here is a list of the dissenting votes, and a brief explanation (or a link to a longer explanation) of the reasons for my decisions.

You will notice that I often support private member’s legislation at 2nd reading. Our government usually opposes such legislation at the 2nd reading stage. In my view, based on parliamentary practice, it is appropriate to support legislation at this stage where I agree with the principle or object of the bill. In the event that one agrees with the principle of the bill, it should be referred to committee for further study before any final decision is made.

42nd Parliament (2015 – 2019)

  1. Bill C-14: Assisted Dying Legislation
  2. Bill C-239: Charitable Gifts
  3. Opposition Day Motion: ISIS Genocide
  4. Opposition Day Motion: Marijuana Decriminalization
  5. Bill C-223: Organ Registry
  6. Bill C-221: Sports Betting
  7. Opposition Day Motion: Creation of Standing Committee on Arms Exports Review
  8. Bill C-246: Animal Protections
  9. Bill C-231: National Food Awareness Act
  10. Bill S-208: National Seal Products Day
  11.  Bill C-245: Development of National Poverty Reduction Strategy
  12. Bill C-228: Closed Containment Aquaculture
  13. Bill C-235: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  14. Bill C-301: RRIFs
  15. Bill S-217: Detention in Custody
  16. Bill S-201: Genetic Non-Discrimination
  17. Bill C-323: Rehabilitation of Historic Property
  18. Bill C-291: Genetically Modified Food
  19. Third Report of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform
  20. Bill S-3: Elimination of Sex-Based Inequities in Registration
  21. Bill C-203: An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act
  22. Bill C-364: An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act
  23. Bill C-373: An Act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving
  24. Bill C-395: An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Acts
  25. Opposition Day Motion: Global Climate Change and Clean Energy Leadership
  26. Opposition Motion: Political interference allegations
  27. Bill C-419: An Act to amend the Bank Act, the Trust and Loan Companies Act, the Insurance Companies Act and the Cooperative Credit Associations Act
  28. Bill C-415: An Act to establish a procedure for expunging certain cannabis-related convictions

43rd Parliament (2019 – )

  1. Opposition Motion: Special committee on Canada-China relations
  2. Opposition Motion: Audit of the government’s “Investing in Canada Plan”

 

42nd Parliament (2015 – 2019)

1. Bill C-14, assisted dying legislation. Votes # 65, 67, 68, 73, 74, 75, 76, 102, 103.

I voted differently from my government 9 times on this single issue. I did not support the restrictive nature of the legislation, as I explained in my speech at 2nd reading. By limiting access to assisted dying to individuals whose death is “reasonably foreseeable” (the terminal illness criterion), I do not believe C-14 was consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Carter.

2. Bill C-239, charitable gifts, 2nd readingVote # 86.

A Conservative member proposed this bill. It would have provided tax credits for charitable donations that are consistent with the tax credits for political donations.

I supported the bill’s principle – namely treating charitable and political donations equitably – and I supported sending it to committee for further study.

3. Opposition day motion, ISIS genocide. Vote # 88.

The Conservatives proposed the following motion:

That the House agree that ISIS is responsible for: (a) crimes against humanity aimed at groups such as Christians, Yezidis, and Shia Muslims, as well as other religious and ethnic minorities in Syria and Iraq; (b) utilizing rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war and enslaving women and girls; and (c) targeting gays and lesbians who have been tortured and murdered; and, as a consequence, that the House strongly condemn these atrocities and declare that these crimes constitute genocide.

I supported the motion, and explained my decision in an article for the National Post here.

4. Opposition day motion, marijuana decriminalization. Vote # 89.

The NDP proposed the following motion:

That the House: (a) recognize the contradiction of continuing to give Canadian criminal records for simple possession of marijuana after the government has stated that it should not be a crime; (b) recognize that this situation is unacceptable to Canadians, municipalities and law enforcement agencies; (c) recognize that a growing number of voices, including that of a former Liberal prime minister, are calling for decriminalization to address this gap; and (d) call upon the government to immediately decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana for personal use.

I voted in support of the motion because decriminalization is fairer than our current system of prohibition, and after meeting with a constituent who had been charged with simple marijuana possession.

I explained my reasoning in media interviews, and wrote an op-ed in Vice News calling for broader decriminalization, and praising the steps we have taken so far to update our drug policies.

5. Bill C-223, organ donation registry, 2nd reading. Vote # 101.

A Conservative member proposed this bill. It would have created a national organ donation registry.

While I had some concerns about jurisdiction, I supported the bill’s principle – namely increasing organ donations – and I supported sending it to committee for further study.

6. Bill C-221, sports betting, 2nd reading. Vote # 106.

This bill would have removed the criminal prohibition against single game sports betting from the Criminal Code. Canadians can already easily gamble on single game sports online, and we should be regulating such gambling, not prohibiting it and pushing it underground or offshore.

I supported the bill’s principle and sending the bill to committee for further study.

7. Opposition day motion, creation of standing committee on arms exports review. Vote # 114.

The NDP proposed the following motion:

That: (a) the House recognize that (i) Canadian arms exports have nearly doubled over the past decade, and that Canada is now the second-largest exporter of arms to the Middle East, (ii) Canadians expect a high standard from their government when it comes to protecting human rights abroad, (iii) Canadians are concerned by arms sales to countries with a record of human rights abuses, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Sudan, (iv) there is a need for Canadians, through Parliament, to oversee current and future arms sales; (b) Standing Order 104(2) be amended by adding after clause (b) the following: “(c) Arms Exports Review”; (c) Standing Order 108(3) be amended by adding the following: “(i) Arms Exports Review shall include, among other matters, the review of and report on (i) Canada’s arms export permits regime, (ii) proposed international arms sales, (iii) annual government reports regarding arms sales, (iv) the use of these weapons abroad, (v) all matters and broader trends regarding Canada’s current and future arms exports.”; (d) the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs prepare and report to the House within five sitting days of the adoption of this Order a list of Members to compose the new standing committee created by this Order; and (e) that the Clerk be authorized to make any required editorial and consequential amendments to the Standing Orders.

I supported this motion because many constituents had raised concerns with me regarding the Saudi Arms sale, and because there is precedent for such a committee, as the United Kingdom has a similar parliamentary committee to review arms exports.

8. Bill C-246, animal protections, 2nd reading. Vote # 120.

I introduced this bill to modernize animal protections by strengthening the Criminal Code’s existing offences against animal cruelty, banning the importation of shark fins, and updating our fur labeling laws.

You can read my first speech in support of the bill here, my final speech in support of the bill here, and my de-brief after the bill’s defeat here.

9. Bill C-231, national food awareness act, 2nd reading. Vote # 123.

An NDP member introduced this bill. It would have established October 16 as “National Food Waste Awareness Day” and called on the government to develop and implement a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada.

I received correspondence from constituents to support of the bill (and no opposition), I supported the bill’s principle, and I supported sending the bill to committee for further study. Other countries are taking food waste seriously, and so should we.

10. Bill S-208, National Seal Products Day, 2nd reading. Vote # 142.

The bill would establish May 20 as National Seal Products Day.

I was asked by constituents to vote against the legislation (and no support), and I do not support the continuation of the commercial seal hunt. I also found some of the language in the preamble problematic, as the bill suggests that the human species’ “predator” role cannot be separated from the rest of nature.

As a result, I did not support the bill.

11. Bill C-245, development of national poverty reduction strategy, 2nd reading. Vote # 174.

An NDP member proposed the bill. Among other things, it called on the government to develop a national poverty reduction strategy, and to appoint an independent poverty reduction commissioner.

I agreed with the bill’s principle – namely for the government to take steps to reduce poverty and establish a national strategy to that end – and I supported sending the bill to committee for further study.

12. Bill C-228, closed containment aquaculture, 2nd reading. Vote # 175.

An NDP member proposed this bill. It would have banned open net-cage fish farms on the west coast.

There are risks with open net fish farms, and a number of experts and environmental groups have called for better protections against those risks. I supported the bill’s principle – namely making fish farming safer – and I supported sending the bill to committee for further study.

13. Bill C-235, fetal alcohol syndrome, 2nd reading. Vote # 180.

A Liberal member proposed this bill. Among other things, it would have given courts the power to order assessments and consider fetal alcohol syndrome disorder as a mitigating factor in sentencing. It was supported by the Canadian Bar Association, and the John Howard Society.

I supported the bill’s principle – namely improving our criminal justice system’s treatment of mental illness – and I supported sending the bill to committee for further study.

14. Bill C-301, RRIFs, 2nd reading. Vote # 183.

A Conservative member proposed this bill. It would have eliminated minimum withdrawal requirements for RRIFs.

I received correspondence from constituents in support of the bill (and no opposition), and I reviewed reports in support of eliminating the minimum withdrawal, including from the CD Howe Institute.

I supported the bill’s principle – ensuring financial security for retirees – and I supported sending the bill to committee for further study.

15. Bill S-217, detention in custody (Criminal Code), 2nd reading. Vote # 208.

A Conservative Senator introduced this bill, it passed the Senate, and a Conservative member sponsored it in the House. Among other things, it would require a prosecutor or police representing the Crown in a bail hearing to put an accused’s criminal record or recent charges before the court.

I received some correspondence from constituents in support of the bill (and no opposition), and met with one constituent – a former police officer – who had testified in support of the bill at the Senate.

I supported the bill’s principle – namely requiring that one’s criminal history be put before a judge in a bail hearing – and I supported sending the bill to committee for further study.

16. Bill S-201, genetic non-discrimination, report stage & 3rd reading. Votes # 210, 211, 212.

A Liberal Senator introduced this bill, it passed the Senate, and a Liberal member sponsored it in the House. It amends the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to protect Canadians against genetic discrimination.

I received a significant amount of correspondence from constituents in support of the bill (and no opposition), including experts in genetics.

Our government took the view that the bill usurped provincial jurisdiction. However, our Justice Committee (including 6 Liberal members) disagreed unanimously on that ground. I reviewed the testimony before the Justice Committee from constitutional experts, and discussed the issue with my Liberal colleagues.

In the event that the bill constitutional, we have adopted significant protections against genetic discrimination. In the event that it is not constitutional, it still sends an important signal to provinces, and puts provinces in a position where if they wish to challenge S-201’s validity, they will likely need to substantially replace it with their own regulations.

17. Bill C-323, rehabilitation of historic property, 2nd reading.Vote # 236

A Conservative member proposed this bill. It would establish a tax credit for expenses related to the rehabilitation of a historic property.

I received correspondence from constituents in support of the bill (and no opposition).

I supported the bill’s principle – rehabilitating historic property – and I supported sending the bill to committee for further study of its potential efficacy and costs.

18. Bill C-291, genetically modified food, 2nd reading. Vote # 283.

An NDP member proposed this bill. It would have required labeling for genetically modified food.
I received correspondence from constituents in support of the bill (and no opposition).
I support the principle of transparency in food labeling, but I also understand that mandatory GMO labels can also give the impression to consumers that such products are unsafe. I wanted to see the issue go to committee for further study, so that experts could testify in support and/or against the bill.

 

19. Motion to concur in the third report of the special committee on electoral reform. Vote # 290.

I promised to support electoral reform in my nomination campaign, and in my election campaign. I believe that we should improve our voting system so that it better reflects voter intentions.

While there was not unanimity on electoral reform among constituents, the overwhelming majority of correspondence and feedback we received wanted to see the issue move forward.

I wrote an article in the Huffington Post to explain my position on the issue.

20. Bill S-3, elimination of sex-based inequities in registration, report stage. Votes # 343, 344.

After consulting with Senator Murray Sinclair’s office, and with the Indigenous Bar Association, and after reviewing the testimony before the INAC committee, I voted to support an amendment that would have expanded the Act to end additional discrimination in the Indian Act.

Ultimately, the government adopted slightly different Senate amendments to end additional discrimination in the Indian Act.

21. Bill C-203, An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages). Votes # 374

An NDP member proposed this bill. It would have required Supreme Court justices to be functionally bilingual.
I received correspondence from constituents in support of the bill (and no opposition).
I support the principle that Supreme Court justices should be bilingual, and I wanted to see the issue go to committee for further study.

 

22. Bill C-364, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act (political financing). Vote # 464.

A Bloc member introduced this bill, to reduce the maximum monetary contribution to parties from $1,500 to $500, and to restore the per-vote subsidy.

I supported the bill in principle, and thought it should be studied at committee.

In my speech on C-50 (a government bill to address election financing) I gave reasons for restoring the per-vote subsidy, and argued for limiting the availability of political tax credits to smaller contributions. 

23. Bill C-373, An Act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving. Vote # 467.

A Liberal member introduced this bill to create a federal framework to help prevent distracted driving. The bill focused mainly on the use of electronic devices and sought to collect data for future laws to deter distracted driving. 

I supported the bill in principle, and thought it should be studied further at committee.

24. Bill C-395, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Acts. Vote # 757.

A Conservative member introduced this bill, to ensure that persons with disabilities wouldn’t lose more through taxation and the reduction of benefits than they would gain through working. 

I supported the bill in principle, and thought it should be studied further at committee.

As a supporter of means-tested basic income supports, we need to make sure they are not reduced unfairly or inefficiently for low-income individuals who return to work. 

25. Opposition Day Motion, Global Climate Change and Clean Energy Leadership. Vote # 757

The NDP proposed the following motion:

That, in the opinion of the House, being a global climate change leader and building a clean energy economy means: (a) investing in clean, renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal as well as investing in energy efficient technologies that create good quality, long-lasting jobs for today’s workers and future generations; (b) putting workers and skills training at the heart of the transition to a clean energy economy so workers don’t have to choose between a good job and a healthy environment for themselves and their families; and (c) not spending billions of public dollars on increasingly obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure and subsidies that increase greenhouse gas emissions and pollution and put Canadians’ health and Canada’s environment, coastlines, waterways, and wildlife, as well as Canada’s marine and tourism jobs at risk.

I voted in support of this motion because we need to take more serious climate action and move forward with a just transition. I do not support continued public investments of billions in fossil fuel infrastructure and subsidies. 

I have regularly advocated for stronger climate action, including by calling a climate emergency debate in the House and introducing net zero legislation

26. Opposition Motion, Political interference allegations. Votes # 991, 992.

The NDP proposed the following two motions: 

That the motion be amended by adding after the word “Act,” the following: “and to table the report in the House by May 31, 2019,”

And

That the House: (a) call on the Prime Minister to waive solicitor-client privilege for the former Attorney General with respect to allegations of interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin; and (b) urge the government to launch a public inquiry, under the Inquiries Act, in order to provide Canadians with the transparency and accountability promised by the Liberals in the 2015 election campaign.

I supported this motion from my NDP colleague on the Ethics Committee for several reasons, including our commitment to openness and transparency. I explained my reasons in this letter.

27. Bill C-419, An Act to amend the Bank Act, the Trust and Loan Companies Act, the insurance Companies Act and the Cooperative Credit Associations Act. Vote # 1303

A Conservative member proposed this bill. It would implement a number of measures on credit card companies, including capping interest payments.

I received correspondence from constituents in support of the bill (and no opposition).

I supported the bill in principle – adding more fairness to credit cards – and I supported sending the bill to committee for study.

28. Bill C-415, An Act to establish a procedure for expunging certain cannabis-related convictions. Vote # 1304

An NDP member proposed this bill. It would establish a process for completely deleting cannabis possession records.

I received correspondence from constituents in support of the bill (and no opposition).

I jointly seconded the bill, as I believe the criminalization of cannabis is an injustice and that expungement of records is the most appropriate way to address that injustice.  Here is my speech in the House of Commons in which I give a full explanation for my support, and here is an article I wrote for NOW Magazine.

  1. ETHI Committee Opposition Motion, Ethics Commissioner to testify on the SNC-Lavalin report.

The Conservatives proposed the following motion at the ETHI Committee:

That given the unprecedented nature of the Trudeau two report the committee invite the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner to brief the committee on his report and that the committee invites further witnesses as required based on the testimony of the commissioner.

I voted to have the Ethics Commissioner attend before our committee in the interests of transparency, and because I believe he came to an incorrect legal decision. My full reasons can be found here.

 

43rd Parliament (2019 – )

 

1. Opposition Motion, Special committee on Canada-China relations. Vote #1

The Conservatives proposed the following motion:

That, in light of the prolonged diplomatic crisis with China, the House appoint a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship including, but not limited to consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations.

I abstained because I supported the creation of a committee in principle, but some of the specific witness requests were unnecessary and I had been advised that the family of detained Canadians were concerned about it.

2. Opposition Motion, Audit of the government’s “Investing in Canada Plan”. Vote #11

The Conservatives proposed the following motion:

That, given the Parliamentary Budget Officer posted on March 15, 2018, that “Budget 2018 provides an incomplete account of the changes to the government’s $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan” and that the “PBO requested the new plan but it does not exist”, the House call on the Auditor General of Canada to immediately conduct an audit of the government’s “Investing in Canada Plan”, including, but not be limited to, verifying whether the plan lives up to its stated goals and promises; and that the Auditor General of Canada report his findings to the House no later than one year following the adoption of this motion.

I voted in support of the opposition motion as a straightforward matter of transparency. For such a significant investment from the federal government, it is appropriate for the Auditor General to be provided full information and to scrutinize the government’s plan.