Name: Eric Hoskins
Riding: St. Paul’s
Years as MPP: three
Former cabinet position: Citizenship and immigration (Jan. 2010 – Oct. 2011); children and youth services (Oct. 2011 – Nov. 2012).
Bio: Medical doctor, co-founder of War Child Canada with his wife, Dr. Samantha Nutt. The couple has a seven-year-old son. Through War Child Canada and his work with the United Nations he has lived and worked in the Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Burundi, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In April 2008 he received the Order of Canada for his humanitarian work. Hoskins studied medicine at McMaster University and then went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He also worked as an advisor to Lloyd Axworthy when he was the federal foreign minister.
Platform: Hoskins believes that people thrive when their economy is growing. His Prescription for a Healthy Economy platform includes reversing the youth unemployment crisis, improving transit, providing better health care for less money and increasing rural prosperity.
On Toronto/GTA: A 20-year transit plan to make Metrolinx’s Big Move strategy a reality, reversing the youth unemployment rate, integrating new skilled immigrants into the workforce much quicker and raising the minimum wage.
In Quotes: “All people, no matter where they come from, deserve access to opportunity and prosperity,” he told the Toronto Board of Trade.
Heading into this weekend’s Liberal leadership convention, Dr. Eric Hoskins, who represents the Toronto St. Paul’s riding, is in last place.
Despite his current standing, Hoskins told the Toronto Star he would not back out of the race.
“Maybe this just isn’t my time. But in this process, and in life in general, you don’t necessarily have to win to make a difference,” he said. “And the race isn’t over. The discussion of ideas is continuing and will continue right onto the convention floor.”
Hoskins officially launched his campaign for the Ontario Liberal leadership at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto on Nov. 13.
“I am applying because there is much work to be done and I believe that work requires a leader who is capable of reaching a consensus,” Hoskins told a room of supporters during his announcement.
In his platform called Prescription for a Health Economy, the 52-year-old father of one son has focused on making the Ontario economy a thriving ecosystem where everyone can be prosperous.
One of the main focuses in his plan is eliminating the youth unemployment ”crisis” by not only expanding employment opportunities for recent graduates but help them relieve some of the pressure of OSAP debt through a volunteer work program.
“I believe change and renewal begin with fresh ideas and new perspectives,” Hoskins told his supporters during his campaign launch.
The former Ontario minister of children and youth services believes enabling Ontario’s youth to compete on a global scale and encouraging entrepreneurship is the key to crating a thriving economy.
A large part of Hoskins’ platform is increasing the integration between rural and urban areas.
Under his 20-year transit plan, Hoskins says rural areas would receive part of the gas tax to increase transit lines and efficiency.
“I have proposed the creation of a new regional transit body – a strengthened Metrolinx – that would be responsible for transit planning and expansion,” he told the Toronto Board of Trade on Jan. 15.
His transit plan includes improving connecting lines from rural areas to the TTC in Toronto, and bringing in new revenue streams from both public and private sectors. The bottom line in his platform is that “everything is on the table” when it comes to the possibility of transit funding.
Hoskins also believes rural areas are not receiving the benefit of Ontario’s revitalization and wants to change that by bringing technologies, such as high-speed Internet, to smaller areas across the province.
“For Ontario to be successful, we need a strong rural voice, strong rural communities, and a strong rural economy,” Hoskins said during the announcement of his rural platform in his hometown of Simcoe on Nov. 30.
“My plan is about respecting rural Ontarians, and ensuring that they share in Ontario’s economic growth.”
Considered the new kid on the block, Hoskins entered politics in 2007 when he ran in the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk. He came in second to Conservative candidate, Diane Finley.
His second attempt was successful, winning the St. Paul’s riding in a 2009 byelection. He retained that seat in 2011 with 58.41 per cent of the vote.
Before entering politics Hoskins worked as a medical doctor, which he says taught him skills that have made him a better public servant.
“As a doctor I’d like to believe I’m a good listener as well. Over more than two decades of practicing medicine, that’s one thing being a good physician teaches you,” he told Steve Paikin on TVO’s The Agenda, on Friday.
Hoskins also co-founded War Child Canada, a non-profit organization that helps to raise awareness and support of war-affected children with his wife Dr. Samantha Nutt in 1999. Through his work with War Child Canada and assisting the United Nations he has lived and worked in the Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Burundi, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In April 2008 he received the Order of Canada for his humanitarian work.
“Eric has demonstrated, throughout his very impressive career, the values we need in a leader – compassion, openness and a willingness to listen,” Pickering Scarborough East MPP Tracy MacCharles said as she announced her endorsement of Hoskins in November.
Former Liberal prime minister John Turner and former provincial Progressive Conservative MPP and judge Roy McMurtry both endorsed Hoskins in December.
“Eric Hoskins represents generational change for the Ontario Liberal Party,” Turner said in a statement. “He is a leader who brings experience, not just from his time as a cabinet minister, but also his career outside of politics where he has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to public service.”
Despite some criticism over his lack of experience, Hoskins says his years of humanitarian work around the world have given him a unique perspective on the things truly needed to create prosperity.
“I’m not new to the purpose and responsibilities of good government,” Hoskins said. “Nor am I new to the task of building communities, strengthening social programs and investing in the education of our children.”