Perth Federation of Agriculture hosts all-candidates meeting

The lineup for the Perth-Wellington all candidates meeting in Monkton, Ontario, held in the Elma Logan Rec Complex. L-R: Liberal candidate Pirie Mitchell, Conservative incumbent John Nater, NDP candidate Geoff Krauter, Christian Heritage Party candidate Irma DeVries, Green Party candidate Collan Simmons and Perth County Federation of Agriculture President Tim Halliday. October 7th, 2019 (Photo by Ryan Drury)

Monkton played host to an all-candidates meeting Monday night, as the Perth County Federation of Agriculture welcomed five Perth-Wellington federal candidates to the Elma Logan Rec Complex.

Farmers and families came out to hear policies and opinions on a number of issues, including a recurring concern regarding trade disputes and how the parties plan to aid farmers who are directly affected by them.

Conservative incumbent John Nater said we need to deal with China, and that may involve retaliatory tariffs and a harsher stance, and also getting more Canadian products going around the world.

“Expanding our markets, making sure we have a diversity of markets for our local producers to explore, so when we have a challenge with the United States, when we have a challenge with China, we have other countries we can turn to, specifically in the Asia-Pacific rim,” said Nater.

Liberal candidate Pirie Mitchell said trade issues are very complex and the Liberals have trade dispute committees aggressively working toward solving these complex situations like the one currently with China.

“How do you tell a country they’re not playing ball? China makes up its own rules as it goes along. So if we expect it to work that quickly, it’ll never happen,” said Mitchell.

NDP candidate Geoff Krauter said they want to ensure farmers have a seat at the table from the very beginning.

“These negotiations, as we saw with the Americans and Europeans, should not be carried out in secret. We would absolutely make sure that supply management was protected,” said Krauter.

Green candidate Collan Simmons said the trade issues are no fault of the farmers and they need a stronger voice in Ottawa.

“The producers are outside of the supply management industries,” said Simmons. “They need help. It’s not their fault that the U.S. and China are in a tariff proxy war, and we’re feeling the effects. I think the government should help them because we need to support farmers and we need this industry going forward.”

Christian Heritage candidate Irma DeVries said trade issues are a big problem, and Canada needs to find a way to work well with other nations and find gains for our farmers who are currently collateral damage in the U.S./China trade war.

“This collateral damage is because of China and the United States having a trade war, and we need to have stronger people in our government that can stand up for Canada and for our ability to serve our nation,” said DeVries.

After addressing many questions and policy stances regarding things like taxation on farmers, supply management, infrastructure, affordability and climate change, the candidates all offered a message to local voters regarding helping local families and farmers.

Nater said his party is focused on working hard for the hardworking farmers and families in the area.

“I talk to so many people that are working hard, they’re following the rules and playing by the rules, but they’re not getting ahead. They might be getting by, but they’re not getting ahead. So we want to make sure that we’re working with families and getting a little more money in their pockets so they can truly get ahead in our economy,” said Nater.

Mitchell of the Liberals says overall he feels our economy is prosperous, but more can be done to stand up for families and farmers, and he wants to provide a strong voice for the area in Ottawa.

“We need to have access to the power in Ottawa and that’s where I think I can help. If it’s a Liberal government, I think I can help, and it looks like it may well be a Liberal minority, but I think I can probably make a difference,” said.

Krauter said they have a bold strategy to get more people to work and address climate change, build affordable housing and that they want to better connect rural areas.

“We’re going to make sure that our communities are better connected through regional transit and inner-city transportation. We will also make sure that everyone has access to the healthcare that they need,” said Krauter.

Simmons said the cost of living is a major issue for people and they have a plan to address it.

“We’re going to have universal pharma-care, we’re going to abolish tuition for post-secondary education, and we’re going to help with the social safety net. Decrease the patchwork of stuff that people have if they aren’t able to work or are in between jobs,” said Simmons.

DeVries said her party would eliminate income tax and install what they call a “fair tax”, which would be about 20 percent, but income tax would be gone.

“All families will benefit from that. We would only have a tax on new goods only, therefore, used goods would not be taxed. If you buy a new car, you’d pay the 20 percent tax, if you buy a used car, there would be no tax,” said DeVries.

Canadians head to the polls on Monday, October 21.

The gathered crowd for the Perth Wellington all candidates meeting at the Elma Logan Rec Complex in Monkton, Ontario. October 7th, 2019 (Photo by Ryan Drury)