“There's never been a Black Liberal party leader before,” Steve said in this episode. “There's never been a Black premier before. How important would that be to you to be number one?”
Coteau’s answer was interesting. He will inevitably be asked this question many times between now and March 7, 2020, the date the Liberals will choose their new leader. Still, when Steve asked, Coteau’s revelation that he would run was only three minutes old — so his response was probably a little more fresh and less rehearsed than you’re going to hear in the months to come.
Let’s break it down:
First, Steve’s phrasing of the question reminded Coteau of his daughter.
“It's funny. I was running out of the house today, racing my daughter to the car, saying, like, ‘I'm number one! I'm number one!’ And she beat me. She says, ‘No, I'm number one.’”
I think this was a genuine and funny comment, but being in the room I got the sense Coteau was taking his time and slowly considering how he wanted to answer the question.
He then reflected on former Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne and how her experience would relate to him.
“It's very symbolic and very meaningful to people, being the first female premier. I think it would be good for young people to see someone a bit different from what they've seen in the past.”
Then he pivoted and said that “more than just being the first possible Black premier,” it would be meaningful to be someone “who’s not from, you know, the upper middle-class, not from the establishment.”
At this point, I think Coteau hit on something we’ll be hearing more and more from him — positioning himself as the person that Premier Doug Ford claims to be.
“Our premier always says that Liberals are, you know, elitist and [he’s] there for the people.
“I think I’m the exact opposite of Doug Ford,” Coteau said. “I grew up poor, put myself through post-secondary education, and I built something by myself.” (Obvious subtext alert: Ford inherited his father’s business.)
Coteau continued: “People who feel like they've been forgotten and that people don't pay attention to them, people who feel left out — I think I would represent more of that than just being, like, the first Black premier. I think I'd be the first premier from the other side of the street, right?”