Former OFVGA chair Jason Verkaik has thrown his hat into the ring to represent the federal riding of York-Simcoe. Sitting MP Peter Van Loan has announced he’ll be retiring, leaving a vacancy in the Conservative Party of Canada. The race is now on to nominate a candidate in the riding, for next year’s federal election.
Verkaik has been involved in politics for more than a decade and became president of the York-Simcoe Conservative Association last year. He’s owner, operator and president of Carron Farms in the Holland Marsh, member of the Canadian Horticultural Council and a director on the Ontario Produce Marketing Association board.
“Over the past eight years I’ve been involved in politics as a leader in farm organizations,” he said.
Travelling to Ottawa to provide input on policies before the Senate committee and agriculture committee, he noted that “rather than lobbying, I want to work on the other side, developing policy that’s a lot more practical and efficient.”
Key issues in York-Simcoe include protecting Lake Simcoe by reinstating the Lake Simcoe Clean-up Fund, lowering taxes and improving the environment for business and trade. In particular, Verkaik is worried that the federal government is handling NAFTA talks “poorly” and is failing to support both business and agricultural sectors.
“Governments have done a good job of creating awareness of the need to protect farmland,” he said, “but we’ve forgotten about protecting the farmers and the business of farming.”
Verkaik has taken a leave of absence from the York-Simcoe Conservative Association and restructured his farm business to allow him to spend more time on his community activities, and on politics.