Perth-Wellington incumbent MP, John Nater, took time out of his re-election campaign schedule on Aug. 16, to give his thoughts to the Listowel Banner on some of the issues facing voters in the 2021 federal election.
This is the second of two Q&A instalments.
LB: Rural broadband remains a major issue for many within Perth-Wellington. How do you see that being dealt with if your party is elected?
Nater: Very simple, first and foremost, we will connect every Canadian to high-speed internet by 2025. Period – full stop. That’s our commitment. There is no more wasting time. There is no more putting it off to 2030 which is the current target. We’re going to connect every Canadian by 2025. Now we’re going to do that in a few different ways. One is by making a massive investment to the tune of $6 billion in rural broadband to ensure we have the capacity there for organizations like SWIFT in southern Ontario and other places as well so they have the resources to put fibre in the ground. We’re going to increase the focus and speed up spectrum auction for that type of internet as well and implement a use it or lose it spectrum auction to prevent the major telecoms from buying up spectrum at an increased cost and then sitting on it and not using it. If the major telecoms want to play in this game they are going to have to pony up to the table and actually do it. We’re going to eliminate the ability for the major telecoms to sit on spectrums. 2025 is the commitment and I know from talking to people in Perth-Wellington that cannot come soon enough because they need it yesterday for their businesses, for their families, for everything they do.
LB: How will your party help people who have been hit hard financially by the pandemic? Some examples are small business owners, people who work in arts and entertainment and the tourism industry?
Nater: Absolutely, locally we’ve seen so many small businesses hurt through no fault of their own but difficult circumstances because of this pandemic. So what we want to see going forward is a focus on recovery, focus on getting people back to work so we’ve promised a few different things to help some of the hardest-hit industries such as the restaurant sector – we’re proposing different tax relief available to them to get people back into the restaurants. We are encouraging people to travel domestically, for tourists to tour in their own backyard. We’ve got a job CERB plan as well, so it’s covering half the costs of a new hire to get people back into the workforce and allowing those businesses that are strapped for cash right now to get back into that. As well, what we are calling the Main Street tax credit, so those who want to invest in a small business in a community, they can do that and have a significant tax saving investing in their own back yard. Investing and rebuilding that local economy that we all rely on.
LB: How would you provide relief to parents of young children in desperate need of support due to the high costs of child care services?
Nater: One of the things where we’re focusing on in our platform is really helping those who are at the bottom and middle-income bracket. For those who are at the bottom income bracket, providing them up to 70 per cent refundable credits of cost of childcare. Making sure that gets back into their pocket so that they will be able to afford the cost of child care and the flexibility of childcare – local childcare providers, whether it’s someone in the community, whether it’s a government-run daycare provider – giving them that flexibility to choose but especially for those in the lower-income bracket who are struggling right now to make ends meet.
LB: Indigenous issues have been at the forefront of the news recently. What would you say Canadians can expect as far as the furthering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action if your party is elected?
Nater: I’ll say first and foremost the legacy of residential schools, the legacy of our treatment of Indigenous peoples has been horrendous over the past century and a half of this country. That is a blight on every political party, my own party included so going forward we need to be partners with Indigenous communities. We need to end all the (boil) water advisories across Canada and we need to do that quickly so that means releasing funds for every shovel-ready project that is currently waiting for funding. It’s working with Indigenous communities and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to make sure that Indigenous communities take the lead and that the government is there as a partner. Then finally making sure we are there for them building communities and developing projects. There is a number of projects that are coming true, that we’re partners so that they can achieve the self-government option they’ve desired for so many years.
LB: The demographics of Perth-Wellington have changed greatly in recent years and continue to change. How would you and your party represent the needs of a more diverse riding?
Nater: Perth-Wellington is a wonderfully diverse community with people coming from literally all parts of Canada and now literally all around the world, so we need to be welcoming and open to that community. I look at some of the initiatives that are being undertaken by local community groups, by municipalities and working with them to ensure that we have diversity and the resources available. One of the things that I’ve been a proponent of is a local integration partnership that was proposed by the County of Perth about two and a half years ago. Unfortunately, the Liberal government declined to fund such a partnership but that’s one of the things we need to be advocating for is the ability to have resources available at the county level so they can be a one-stop shopping trip – things like language training, things like skills development, things like job tools. So that’s one of the things that if I am re-elected I will once again be advocating for that type of partnership with the county.
LB: Is there anything else you would like to let constituents know about what you intend to do for them that has not been asked?
Nater: In the last year and a half there have been a few different priorities that I’ve been trying to champion. One of them is obviously the protection of young people and persons with disabilities from sexual exploitation. Obviously, that’s something I will recommit myself to if I’m re-elected. The other thing is support for our rural and small towns to make sure we have the infrastructure funding needed to maintain and expand the services. Whether that’s North Perth or across Perth-Wellington, we need a rural focus on every infrastructure dollar that goes out to make sure that our rural communities are well-served going forward and then third, my commitment is, and I make this commitment at every election, that when people go to the polls on election day, that what they are getting from me is my hard work and my dedication to our community. I will work hard for each and every person in every corner of Perth-Wellington every day if I am given the honour once again of serving as a member of parliament.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner