Michael Coteau won the nomination for the federal liberals in Don Valley East last weekend. It is rare when you get a guy who is really dedicated to helping people. That is my take on Michael. I have only met him once but I have followed his career in politics closely. He grew up in an area of Metro Toronto that I watched turn from farmers’ pastures to urban living, old two-lane roads became multi-lane thoroughfares and where the Don River had to share its valley with an expressway.
Before he won the provincial seat in that area, Michael had won notice for his community concerns as a school board trustee. He moved to provincial politics in 2011 and served in a variety of cabinet positions in the Wynne liberal government. He withstood the rout in 2018 and was re-elected to Queens Park. As one of the few liberals there, he put his name forward for the party leadership. It was not his time.
He will find Ottawa is a very different milieu from Queen’s Park. The separation from family is a serious consideration. The constant travel becomes an irritation. The party’s whips become a frustration. It is a constant struggle to remain true to oneself and to one’s constituents.
One solution in Ottawa was expressed to me a long time ago by another liberal in Michael’s area. It was David Collenette, the long-time minister of transport. David suggested that the newcomer pick a subject, own the subject in debates and in committee and convince the party leader of your expertise.
The effort often wins you attention from the party leader but not necessarily into the chosen portfolio when a cabinet post is available. It is good advice.
Whatever happens in the coming election, I think that the voters of Don Valley East will be pleased to have Michael Coteau representing them.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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