Three-term Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustee Michael Coteau has his sights set on entering the Ontario Legislature.
The Carleton University graduate was last week nominated as the provincial Liberal candidate in Don Valley East where he has been a public school trustee since November 2003.
Former Health and Infrastructure Minister David Caplan, who is among 14 Liberals not seeking re-election on October 6, nominated Coteau.
“Michael has distinguished himself in many respects,” said Caplan, a former North York Board of Education trustee and vice-chair. “He’s a leader and that’s demonstrated when he goes to the school board or he’s in our community representing people of all walks of life. He has taken it upon himself to connect in a very strong and unique way in the different communities.
“In Michael Coteau, you have a candidate who will make you proud and one who carries the values and true spirit of public service. He has the leadership qualities that will engage the people of Dan Valley East and in fact deliver the riding for the Liberals. That’s why I encourage all of you to get out and support him in his quest.”
Transportation minister Kathleen Wynne and former Ontario Liberal minister Mary Anne Chambers attended Coteau’s nomination meeting.
“I have known Michael for many years and know that he has a tremendous track record as a trustee who delivers results for the residents of Don Valley East,” said the neighbouring Don Valley West MPP. “I am excited to have Michael join our team. He has the necessary passion and vision for the job,” said Wynne.
Coteau said he plans to use Caplan’s approach to ensure that the riding has a reliable and effective advocate in Ontario’s legislative assembly.
He noted that the decision to align himself with the Liberals was not difficult.
“Under Premier Dalton McGuinty, the province has removed the barricade between Queen’s Park and the people that existed under the Tories,” said Coteau who is a passionate advocate for digital textbooks. “He has worked with communities to ensure that this province is set up for success. My personal experience in education has convinced me that the Ontario Liberal (Party) is the best choice for this province and we must continue to move forward.
“This government has increased test scores, lowered class sizes, increased funding, decreased suspension and expulsion rates provincially, created whole-day kindergarten, restored labour peace and stability, eliminated fried foods and unhealthy eating in our cafeterias and enabled Boards like ours to invest in over 450 solar panels to power our schools and communities,” he said. “This is a government that truly cares…I want to be part of that continued success in building this great province.”
Raised in the tough Flemingdon Park neighbourhood, Coteau attended Victoria Park Secondary School and Leaside High School before entering Carleton where he graduated in 1997 with Political Science and Canadian History degrees. He spent two years in South Korea teaching English as a Second Language before returning home to successfully run for school board trustee.
One of the first motions he tabled – along with then trustee Bruce Davis – was a proposal for Canada’s largest school board to look at student achievement on the basis of race, ethnicity, mother tongue, gender, income and place of residence. Trustees passed the motion in a close 11-10 vote to approve the development of a research program to gather the data.
During his second term, Coteau supported the establishment of the controversial Africentric Alternative School that opened in September 2009. That vote too was also close with trustees voting 11-9 with one abstention.
Coteau is the executive director of AlphaPlus, a provincially funded organization that provides expertise to support adult educators through research, information and training on innovative learning technologies.