Nater cruises to third straight term as Perth-Wellington MP, but Liberals earn another minority mandate

John Nater cruised to a third consecutive term as Perth-Wellington’s member of Parliament, garnering more half of the votes in the rural Southwestern Ontario riding that has voted Tory since 2003, when Gary Schellenberger won a byelection for what was then Perth-Middlesex.

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John Nater cruised to a third consecutive term as Perth-Wellington’s Member of Parliament, garnering close to half of the votes in the rural Southwestern Ontario riding that has voted Tory since 2003, when Gary Schellenberger won a byelection for what was then Perth-Middlesex.

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The Conservative incumbent received more than 15,000 votes with 145 of 205 polls reporting as of press time, finishing ahead of Liberal Brendan Knight, NDP candidate Kevin Kruchkywich and Wayne Baker of the People’s Party of Canada.

“In the months and years to come, I promise to do what I can as a Parliamentarian and as a citizen to protect and reinforce the foundations of our country,” Nater said in his acceptance speech. “But this is a challenge that extends beyond simply government officials. It is a duty expected of all of us as citizens to do what we can to improve our communities and our country.”

Canadian voters handed Liberal leader Justin Trudeau a third term as prime minister, but with a second straight minority mandate. The Conservatives, under Erin O’Toole, will once again form the official opposition.

Nater, 37, watched results roll in from his hometown Mitchell Golf and Country Club with a small group of staff, local media, close friends and family, including Bill and Darlene Nater, John’s parents.

“We’ve supported him all along,” Darlene Nater said. “He’s done his job. He’s made himself visible, and he’s been here (in the riding) all the time.

“And with his constituents, he treats them all the same whoever they vote for.”

Knight, in his first federal campaign, was second with about 22 per cent of the vote with 73 per cent of polls reporting.

“It was very positive (campaign),” he said. “I got a lot of positive response, even (Monday) on the street as I was out trying to pull votes, so I’m very proud of the campaign and even more proud of all the hard work volunteers did in what is not a usual campaign environment.

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“I think a positive message will continue. Politics goes in waves, and we’ve had Liberal members here before. There will be Liberal members here again, so I look forward to whenever the next cycle happens and we have another opportunity to bring forward that kind of a message.”

Kruchkywich, another political newcomer, was third, hovering around 18 per cent of the vote early Tuesday morning.

“I think we ran a really great campaign,” he said. “I think we ran a positive campaign, and I think were able to really connect with the community and really reach out to the rural communities. I think the NDP has not necessarily in this riding done enough work that way, and we’re really proud of the fact that we’ve really tried to connect and have conversations with people in some of the smaller communities in Perth-Wellington.”

Baker finished fourth in his second foray into politics, but first federally. He had around 10 per cent of the vote.

Nater, who broke into politics in 2010 when he was elected to Perth West council, has represented Perth-Wellington federally since 2015, when Schellenberger retired. Nater received 42.9 per cent of the votes in his first federal election and had 46.3 per cent of the votes in 2019.

He served as Deputy House Leader from Nov. 28, 2019 to Sept. 2, 2020 before being named Shadow Minister for Rural Economic Development.

“Throughout this campaign, I also overcame a lot of negativity and a lot of frustration, but despite of all of this, we still live in the greatest country on earth,” he said. “And throughout this campaign, I saw moments of hope and optimism.

“How wonderful would our society be if each of us … looked for the good all around us, rather than dwelling on the bad?”

— With files from Galen Simmons and Chris Montanini

cosmith@postmedia.com

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