01/22/2013 13:48 EST | Updated 03/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Humanitarian Hoskins has high hopes in leadership race

Billed as a no-hope candidate for the Ontario Liberal leadership, Eric Hoskins is known for more than his place in the race.

Outside the realm of politics, Hoskins is a medical doctor as well as a humanitarian. Practicing medicine in conflict zones has given the candidate a leg up in working under pressure and coming out of a difficult situation intact, he said.

The race to replace Premier Dalton McGuinty poses a new challenge. Hoskins, a candidate going into the leadership convention with the least amount of delegates, may very well face being dropped after the first ballot.

As a relatively green politician the junior cabinet minister has only three years of politics under his belt.

Still confident

Hoskins, 52, is unfazed by critics and confident of his chances, saying that he brings a fresher perspective than other candidates.

The humanitarian and Rhodes Scholar spent a decade as a doctor in war-torn regions of Africa and around the world. He later served as the senior advisor to Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy on issues such as human rights, child soldiers, peacekeeping and landmines.

He spent his time in Africa with his wife, Dr, Samantha Nutt, and helped build the War Child foundation, a global non-profit organization that raises awareness and support of war affected children.

"The good doctors are among the best listeners out there, and I learned that over the last couple of decades: how to listen," said Hoskins.

"I think that connection is really important, and that real life experience is really important — especially in a place like Ontario, where we’re one of the most diverse places on earth."

Hoskins, who still practices medicine alongside his political career, has many accolades to his name including the Order of Canada, the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross, and the United Nations Lester B. Pearson Peace Medal.

'Boundless compassion'

Though Hoskins has celebrity endorsers such as Canadian rapper K'Naan, his seven-year-old son Rhys and his wife are his biggest supporters. Nutt says his "boundless compassion" and "innate ability to lead" have always been a part of his character.

The leadership candidate said running a multimillion-dollar charity gives him ample experience in working with tight budgets and gives him the experience needed to slay Ontario's $14.4-billion deficit.

Hoskins was elected after former cabinet minister Michael Bryant left politics, and was soon promoted to cabinet as minister of citizenship and immigration.

Recently he served as minister of children and youth services.