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About John

John and his wife Ria owned and operated a dairy farm just outside of Earlton from 1984-2012. John was first elected to represent the riding of Timiskaming-Cochrane in October 2011 and was re-elected in 2014, 2018 and 2022.

The Vanthof’s have four children; Stephanie is a Member Services Representative with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Alex is an underwater diver who works across Ontario, Dana is a corporate lawyer in Toronto, and Vicky is finishing her PhD at the University of Waterloo.  John and Ria have two grandchildren, Joey and Lena.

John’s public service career started with his election to the Temiskaming Dairy Producer Committee where he served for 20+ years as a director, secretary and several years as chairman.  In 2004, John was elected to the Board of Dairy Farmers of Ontario and when Thornloe Cheese was threatened with closure, he played a key role in its rebirth.

John also served twelve years on municipal council in his home township of Evanturel, but he is most widely recognized for his ten-year term as President of the Temiskaming Federation of Agriculture.  During that time, the federation represented the agricultural community on some major concerns with the most notable issue being the Adams Mine Landfill debate.  The critical analysis of the Ministry of Environment’s approval of the landfill, commissioned by the Federation, was one of the catalysts that stopped the project.

Also, John was a member of the Board of Directors for the 2009 International Plowing Match and served as the Education Committee Chair where his main responsibility was the student education program.  He also sat on the Board of the Englehart and District Hospital, the fundraising committee for the Englehart Family Health Clinic and served as vice chair for the Temiskaming Foundation.

Currently, John is Opposition House Leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party and sits on various committees, including the Board of Internal Economy where he is one of the two commissioners. He previously served as Deputy Leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party during his 2018-2022 term.  


John's current critic portfolio includes Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.


John has been the Member of Provincial Parliament for Timiskaming-Cochrane for the past 13 years.

Critic Portfolio Reflection: Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs

"Farmers Feed Cities"

It’s a simple slogan and an even simpler concept that exemplifies the agricultural sector in Ontario.  As proud producers of quality products, the farms across Ontario provide milk, eggs, red meat, poultry, vegetables, fruits, grains, and so much more. In 2011, over 80,000 Ontarians made their living directly from farms.

Not only is it important to realize that farmers feed the province, but it is imperative to our economy that the population recognizes the agricultural sector as one of Ontario’s largest employers.  The agricultural industry creates employment on the farm; at the processor, in the store, and right to your dinner table while taking into account all the steps in between.

Everyone associates agriculture with fields of grazing cattle, or buying fresh produce at your local farmer’s market, but agriculture encompasses much more.  From large processors making corn sweeteners to corporations that make industrial products from agricultural produce, the list is long and impressive.  In Ontario, there are more than 700, 000 people working in the province’s agri-food industry.

As the agricultural critic, my role is to review and comment on the performance of both the Minister of Agriculture and his ministry which encompasses Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  As the agriculture critic, I fully accept the task of researching the current policies and decisions, proposing better ways to meet the needs of the rural community and then working towards that goal.

I have spent my entire working career as a dairy farmer, agricultural spokesman, and advocate for the agricultural community.  For over 30 years, I have faced the challenges of agriculture in an ever-changing, fast-paced society that has lost much of its connection to the farm.

Rural Ontario has been ignored and misunderstood by the current government, and it is my responsibility as NDP Agriculture Critic to ensure that the agricultural and rural issues facing our industry receive the attention they deserve from the present government.  In late 2022, I am bringing forth my Private Member’s Bill, the Protecting Agricultural Lands Act which will aim to stop the current and future governments from paving over farmland.  This has most recently been seen in both the development in the Holland Marsh, and now in the Greenbelt.

If you have an issue that impacts the agricultural sector, please contact me at

- John"

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