By Lincoln DePradine
Michael Coteau, who wants to become leader of the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP), says the job of unseating Premier Doug Ford’s Conservative government is possible under his leadership but requires people’s support.
“We need to do this together,’’ said Coteau. “It’s not me who is going to defeat the conservatives; it’s going to be Ontarians, who feel like they’ve been pushed aside, coming together and supporting me, and restoring values and decency in politics.’’
Coteau was speaking last Saturday at Grenoble Public School, a North York school he once attended.
Saturday’s event was dubbed as a “Rally for Change’’, and is part of Coteau’s campaign in his bid to be chosen OLP leader at upcoming party elections.
He’s one of seven candidates that so far have declared their candidacy in the contest to replace former OLP leader and ex-Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who resigned after her Liberal administration was defeated by the Conservatives in provincial elections last year.
Coteau was born in 1972 in England to a Grenadian father and British mother. He came to Canada with his parents in 1976.
The MPP for Don Valley East has been a lawmaker since 2011 and held cabinet portfolios such as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport and Minister of Children and Youth Services.
The OLP leadership race is intensifying just as polls are showing a dramatic fall in the favourability ratings for Premier Ford.
During the Raptors’ NBA championship celebration at Toronto City Hall last week, Ford walked onstage and received a round of boos from sports fans.
“I think it’s going to be a long road back for Doug Ford,” said Quito Maggi, president and CEO of Mainstreet Research, which conducted a poll last month. “I can’t point to any one thing (to show) how this is going to get better for Doug Ford — certainly not anything in the short term.”
Coteau, also a former Toronto District School Board trustee, told The Camera that he’s the best candidate to become new Liberal Party leader.
“I have a lot of experience in politics, 16 years, serving on the school board and in the Ontario Legislature. I also ran a national literacy organization,’’ he said.
“I know what the challenges are in Ontario today and the struggles that people are going through. I’ve gone through those struggles. People in my community have gone through those struggles and I want to build an Ontario that restores decency in politics to allows it to be stable and predictable; and to build a better Ontario and give people a chance to make it. Now, more than ever, those opportunities are being removed and we need to restore that.’’
Coteau said that although the OLP’s leadership campaign hasn’t officially begun, he’s been “going out there talking to Liberals, telling them why I want to run. I’ve got a great reception. Once the party officially starts that process, we’ll keep on going and look for ways to even build a stronger base’’.