Erin O’Toole is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Durham in Ontario, Canada. He was elected to Canada’s Parliament in a by-election in 2012 and re-elected at the 2015 general election. He currently serves as the Official Opposition Critic for Public Safety. Previously, he served as the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Born in Montreal, Erin was raised in Bowmanville and Port Perry, Ontario as the oldest of five children. After graduation from Bowmanville High School in 1991, he joined the Canadian Forces and enrolled at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston. He graduated from the RMC in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
Erin’s first posting with the RCAF was at 8 Wing in Trenton, Ontario working at the Rescue Coordination Centre on search and rescue operations. He was later posted to 17 Wing in Winnipeg, Manitoba to complete his training as an Air Navigator. He received his wings and in 1997 was posted to 12 Wing in Shearwater, Nova Scotia. Erin flew with 423 Squadron as a Tactical Navigator on the CH-124 (Sea King) Helicopter. The Sea King flew in support of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) conducting anti-submarine, maritime surveillance, search and rescue and naval support operations. Erin sailed with the RCN as part of the air detachment aboard the Canadian frigate HMCS St. John’s.
While serving at 12 Wing, Erin was promoted to the rank of Captain and later received the Canadian Forces Decoration (C.D.) for 12 years of faithful service to Canada. Erin and members of his Sea King crew received the Sikorsky Helicopter Rescue Award for the rescue of an injured fisherman at sea.
Upon completion of his service in the regular forces in 2000, Erin transferred to the Canadian Forces reserves and attended law school at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He continued to work during law school serving with 406 Squadron as a training officer. Erin graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 2003 (LL.B) and returned to Ontario to practice law.
Following his articles and call to the bar in Ontario, Erin practiced law in a variety of corporate settings giving him a broad understanding of business issues. He began his career practicing litigation, insolvency and energy regulation at the Toronto office of one of Canada’s largest law firms.
Erin then spent five years as in-house counsel to one of the world’s largest consumer products companies managing all litigation in Canada and advising management on environmental, commercial and competition issues. The company was also the largest private sector employer in Eastern Ontario so he got a first hand appreciation for issues related to manufacturing, trade and competitiveness for employers in southern Ontario. He was nominated as a Leader of Tomorrow at the 2009 Canadian General Counsel Awards for his work developing a national brand protection strategy to combat the rise of counterfeit goods.
Before running for office in 2012, Erin had returned to private practice at a national law firm working on corporate and business development issues for clients in Canada and internationally. He was also a contributing columnist for Marketing magazine writing a column called Rules of Engagement on advertising and strategy.
Erin lives in Courtice, Ontario with his wife Rebecca and their children Mollie and Jack. Erin met his wife Rebecca in Nova Scotia while he was serving in the military. Erin has been a long-time member of Branch 178 of the Royal Canadian Legion and has worked with the Legion on their Remembrance Day activities for almost a decade. Erin is also a member of the Rotary Club of Courtice and has been one of the organizers of the Clarington Youth & Community Leadership Dinner. For the last few years, this dinner has recognized local youth leaders and has raised funds for the building of schools in Africa with the Michael “Pinball” Clemons Foundation and Free the Children. In 2012, Erin was the co-chair of the River Runs Through Us campaign in Clarington which raised over $100,000 for the construction of a fish passage and recreational area along the Bowmanville Creek.
Erin has also been an active organizer and fundraiser for several national charities. In 2009, he was one of the founders of the True Patriot Love Foundation, which has raised over $11 million for programs supporting members of the military, veterans and their families. He has also served as a Director and dinner co-chair for the non-partisan Churchill Society, where he helped raise over $125,000 for educational programs about our parliamentary democracy. Erin has also helped raise funds and awareness of Canadian history as a Director of the Vimy Foundation and is part of the foundation’s 2017 – Century of Vimy campaign cabinet. Until his election to Parliament, Erin also served on the Board of Governors of the Royal Military College of Canada, his alma mater.
For his leadership efforts in the charitable and non-profit sectors, Erin was recognized with the Young Alumnus Award from Dalhousie University and was also awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012.