John Nater was elected to Parliament in 2015, just eight years after graduating with a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management (BPAPM) degree. Today, he serves as the Official Opposition Shadow Secretary for Inter-provincial Trade and the Sharing Economy. He also sits on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
When did you realize you wanted to be a politician?
I was always interested in Canadian government and politics and I started getting involved with local campaigns in high school. I was motivated by the idea that you had the ability to make changes — that you could change someone’s life for the better.
You were elected to Parliament at age 31. How did you manage to do it?
If you look at the numbers, my campaign put up 1,000-plus signs; handed out 6,000 bags of popcorn at parades; I attended eleven all-candidates meetings and lost two belt sizes.
I also developed important connections. I began volunteering for MP Gary Schellenberger when I was a BPAPM student. I went on to become his special assistant and then in 2014, he announced his retirement. That’s when I ran for, and won, his seat.
How has your BPAPM experience helped you in your career?
It was the perfect program to prepare someone for a career in public service. It’s not just economics, law, political science and policy, but all at the same time. That enables you to look at similar issues from different perspectives, which is a great benefit for a career in Parliament.
The alumni connections and friendships are also incredibly valuable. My closest connection is MP Garnett Genuis (Sherwood — Fort Saskatchewan) who sits behind me in the House of Commons. I also cross paths with fellow graduates here in Ottawa and across the country in various aspects of public life and I see so many of them serving in leading roles.
Plus, I stay in touch with current students as a mentor in the Kroeger College Policy Connect course, which offers a one-day immersive experience on Parliament Hill.
What are your plans for the future?
In the short-term, my priority is to develop a coherent platform for my two shadow cabinet responsibilities in interprovincial trade and the sharing economy. It’s exciting because they are relatively new policy issues from a federal government standpoint and I will be able to lead the policy development for the opposition on this.
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