Marcel Coté remembered as a 'great Montrealer'
Published Sunday, May 25, 2014 5:11PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 26, 2014 6:52PM EDT
Recent Montreal mayoral candidate Marcel Coté, 71, has died.
Coté, who led the Coalition Montreal party in the November 2013 election, was felled by a heart attack Sunday morning while taking part in a 100-kilometre charity bicycle race near Joliette.
Kind words are pouring in for the economist, consultant and volunteer turned reluctant politician.
“He was full of ideas, full of innovation, full of love for Quebec and Montreal. We will miss him,” said Premier Philippe Couillard.
Mayor Denis Coderre praised Coté as a "great Montrealer."
Coderre announced at a press conference at City Hall late Sunday afternoon that he has offered to hold a civic funeral for Coté.
Although rivals in the November election, Coderre recruited Coté as an advisor following the vote.
"It's sad. We were constantly talking. He's a man who had good advice. We're shocked. I had an enormous amount of pleasure working with him," said Coderre.
"I was so proud that after the election we put aside -- we never had any grievances together. We put aside all that so-called political fight and decided to all work together for the sake of the city and I think it changed the tone and sent a clear message of a change of culture," said Coderre.
"I offer my sympathies to his family and the men and women of Coalition Montreal."
Coté had no previous experience running for public office when he was picked to lead the party previously run by Louise Harel, although he had previously served as advisor to Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
“He really was a reluctant politician,” said NDG-Cote-des-Neiges borough Mayor Russell Copeman, who was part of his team. “He didn't think like a politician and all of those things appealed to me.”
Coalition Montreal elected only six city councillors, nine fewer than in the previous election. He attracted 12.79 per cent of the mayoral vote, coming in a disappointing fourth.
Though his resume was by all accounts impressive, he wasn’t a natural politician who gave catchy sound bites, said Copeman.
“He would have preferred to have a half hour discussion going to an in-depth analysis rather than formulate something in 30 seconds,” he explained.
With a soft spot for Montreal, Coté volunteered to help Coderre post-election.
“Marcel Cote was somebody who really had a soft spot for Montreal. Even in defeat, he was ready to help his opponent,” said political analyst Jean Lapierre.
Coté was born in Malartic, a small community west of Val D'Or, and obtained a B. Sc from the University of Ottawa in 1966 and an M.Sc. at Carengie Mellon university in 1969. He was awarded a fellowship at Harvard in 1986.
He co-founded and ran the SECOR strategic management firm in 1975, a company he headed for 30 years. And in 2010 he served as co-president of the Coté-Seguin study group which analyzed the fiscal shape of Montreal.
Coté was an acclaimed economist who also had long service as a volunteer in such organizations as the YMCA, the INRS and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, among others.
Those who knew his said he was known for his boundless energy.
“Marcel had so much energy. A lot of people my age were jealous of his energy even though he was more than 70 years old,” said Melanie Joly, his rival in the mayoral race.
“I’m very surprised. He’s someone who had a healthy dynamic, someone who would use bikes all the time. People who walked with him -- you had to walk very fast keep up with him. You would almost have to run,” said Michel Leblanc, president of the Montreal Board of Trade.