A resident of Mitchell where he lives with his wife and young daughter, Perth-Wellington Conservative Party candidate John Nater became involved in the region’s agricultural community at a young age. He grew up on the family farm in Logan township that his grandparents purchased when they came to Canada in 1952, and where his parents still live. He hasn’t been involved with politics quite that long, but it’s close. For almost 12 years he’s worked with the Conservatives federally and provincially and, at the municipal level, has served West Perth as councillor.
What would you say led you to becoming a candidate in this federal election?
I believe in giving back. So, for me public service is important. I’ve been involved in public service in one form or another for my entire adult life. Running in this election is my way of continuing work on behalf of our communities. This is an important election. We continue to live in difficult economic times and we need to continue with the leadership of Prime Minister Harper both at home and on the world stage. I’ve been involved in a number of activities that would make me qualified to hit the ground running on Day 1 as the Member of Parliament for Perth-Wellington. I’m proud to be part of the Conservative team and I’m proud to be running in this election.
Why do you think Perth-Wellington needs a Conservative Party representative in Ottawa?
I believe the Conservative Party’s values reflect the values of the people of Perth-Wellington. We believe in hard work, we believe in entrepreneurism and we believe in the importance of our communities. I believe that the people of Perth-Wellington appreciate the strong focus on the economy that our party has provided for the past nine-and-a-half years in office. After all, it was a Conservative government that balanced the budget, as we promised we would do. We kept taxes low; to the lowest rates since the John Diefenbaker days, and we’ve maintained the economy to the point that we’ve created 1.3 million net new jobs since the depths of the recession. Of those jobs, 80 percent are in the private sector, and 80 percent of those jobs are full-time jobs. I think only a re-elected Conservative government will maintain that focus on the economy.
What issues in Perth-Wellington do you feel deserve attention in Ottawa, and how would you make sure they received that attention?
There are a number of issues I would hope to champion as the Member of Parliament for Perth-Wellington. One of them would be rural transportation options for our rural communities. For that, I think we need to work in conjunction and in collaboration with all three levels of government, and bring in both the private and volunteer sectors to find those options and those possibilities to make rural transportation more affordable and more viable for all of our local rural communities. Second, I think we need to have a real focus on the infrastructure needs for our communities. I’m a big supporter of engaging with each individual community and municipality to identify their infrastructure needs, whether it be water/waste water, or something like roads and bridges. We need to work to find which priorities they see, and the work to ensure that the funding is targeted to those specific expenditures. To have a strong infrastructure plan, we need to have a strong economy. Only a Conservative government will maintain that low tax advantage to create the jobs and maintain the economy to the growth that we need. As a dad, I think we need to have a continued focus on the needs of our local families. Only a Conservative government will maintain and enhance the universal childcare government and only a Conservative government will protect income splitting for families and pensioners.
How would you characterize the government’s performance on health care, and how would you like the government’s health care policies to change or develop?
I think what we need is a strong, long-term, predictable plan for health care. That includes funding. For me, what we need to see is a continued focus on ensuring that the Canada Health Transfer is funded at an adequate level, so, going forward, we will continue to increase the health transfer at a rate of six percent for the next two years. After that, we’ll increase health spending at a rate of three percent, or at the rate of the growth of the economy, whichever is higher. In practical terms, this means that by 2019, healthcare funding at the federal level will be $41 billion. That’s double what it was when our government came into office in 2006. I also want to see a continued focus on mental health issues, so I’m proud that our government has invested approximately $1 billion on mental health issues including research and we recently announced in the most recent budget that we’ll extend the Canadian Mental Health Commission’s mandate by an additional 10 years. So, at the end of the day, I think it’s important that the health care system is there when our families need it.
How would you like to use the natural and agricultural strengths of Perth-Wellington to improve the region’s economy?
We quite literally live in one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the world. Our economy is spurred on by over $1 billion in agricultural impact. If you look at the dairy industry alone, we have more dairy farmers in Perth-Wellington than in any other electoral district in Canada. That’s why I’m proud that our government and our Conservative Party continues to protect supply management and we’ll continue to protect three pillars of supply management for both the dairy and the feather industries. One of the ways we need to work on behalf and our agricultural industries is expanding markets. Since we have come to office, we’ve signed 38 free trade deals with countries worldwide and it shows that our farmers can compete and win on a world stage when we provide them with a level playing field through free trade deals. The other thing is, we need to have a strong focus on research and innovation for the industry. We recently announced a $3 million investment in conjunction with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario for a new research facility in Elora. That facility is going to be providing groundbreaking research on behalf of the dairy industry. The other side of it is that we’ve created the AgriInnovation Program. This provides almost $500 million in funding to our industry partners in the agriculture industry to undertake research and provide new innovations to our farmers to get them to market faster to allow our farmers to take advantage of these great programs.