Don McRae (politician)

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The Honourable
Don McRae
MLA
DonMcRae3.jpg
MLA for Comox Valley
Incumbent
Assumed office
May 2009
Preceded by Stan Hagen
Minister of Agriculture of British Columbia
In office
March 14, 2011 – September 5, 2012
Premier Christy Clark
Preceded by Ben Stewart
Succeeded by Norm Letnick
Minister of Education of British Columbia
In office
September 5, 2012 – April 2013
Premier Christy Clark
Preceded by George Abbott
Succeeded by Peter Fassbender
Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation of British Columbia
Incumbent
Assumed office
June 10, 2013
Premier Christy Clark
Personal details
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Deanne
Children Gracie, Chloe
Occupation Secondary school teacher

Don McRae is a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Canada, and a member of the BC Liberal Party. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly from the riding of Comox Valley in the 2009 provincial election. After serving nearly 2 years on the backbenches he was appointed Minister of Agriculture on March 14, 2011, in Premier Christy Clark's first cabinet. On September 5, 2012, he was appointed as the Minister of Education. In addition to his ministerial roles, he has a seat on the Environment and Land Use Committee and the Cabinet Committee on Open Government and Engagement. He has introduced one piece of legislation, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Act, 2011.

Prior to working in the provincial government, McRae worked as a secondary school teacher at Georges P. Vanier Secondary School. He spent seven years on Courtenay's city council, having successfully run in the 2002, 2005, and 2008 municipal elections. He was appointed as a director to the Comox-Strathcona Regional District and later the Comox Valley Regional District.

Background[edit]

Don McRae was born and raised in the Comox Valley. He graduated from Georges P. Vanier Secondary School and went to the University of British Columbia where he graduated specializing in education and international relations.[1] He moved back to Courtenay and worked as a teacher at Georges P. Vanier Secondary School from the mid-1990s until his election as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in 2009. Shortly after moving to Courtenay, he married a woman named Deanne. Together they had two daughters, one born 2004 and the second in 2009.[2]

McRae spent seven years on Courtenay city council. He was first elected in November 2002, and was re-elected in 2005 and 2008. While on council he voted against allowing business to stay open late-night,[3][4] supported surveillance cameras in public areas,[5] and led an initiative to rename streets after of specific, locally-significant people.[6] He also supported work at establishing a walking/cycling trail across the Comox Valley, from the Town of Comox to Comox Lake.[7] He was appointed to the Comox-Strathcona Regional District board of directors in 2006.[8] As one of Courtenay's two Regional Directors, he supported the Vancouver Island Health Authority's controversial attempt to build a new regional hospital near Dove Creek,[9] but he later supported a compromised position that would see a new hospital built in the Comox Valley with the Campbell River hospital remaining open for emergency and acute care.[10] McRae disliked how the Comox-Strathcona Regional District operated, calling the urban-rural voting blocks "dysfunctional".[11][12] He favoured an amalgamation of Courtenay, Cumberland, Comox, and several electoral areas to form a new regional government.[13] McRae welcomed the province's move to split the Regional District (creating the Comox Valley Regional District and the Strathcona Regional District),[14] and even supported a proposal to include the Comox Indian Band on the Comox Valley Regional District's Board of Directors.[15]

Provincial politics[edit]

After Comox Valley MLA Stan Hagen suddenly died of a heart attack in January 2009, the BC Liberal Party had to nominate someone new for the up-coming May 2009 general election. Along with McRae, 3 other people stood for the nomination: B.C. Shellfish Growers' Association executive director Roberta Stevenson, Salvation Army manager Shawn Wilson, Habitat for Humanity worker Jon Toogood, and Comox Valley Airport Commissioner Ken Dawson (though Dawson withdrew several weeks before the nomination vote).[16][17] The vote was held on March 12, with 650 registered BC Liberal members and a preferential voting system, and McRae won the nomination on the third ballot.[18] Campaigning for the May general election began soon afterwards where he faced BC NDP candidate and log scaler Leslie McNabb, BC Green Party candidate and author Hazel Lennox, BC Refederation Party and forest industry administrator Paula Berard,[19] and People's Front candidate and health-care worker Barbara Biley.[20] The riding was predicted to have a very competitive race[21] and was "too close to call".[22] McRae was supported by Minister of Finance and fellow BC Liberal Colin Hansen who visited Courtenay to attend a McRae campaign event.[23] McRae was criticized in the campaign for failing to attend a debate on Education. McRae won the riding with 47% of the vote in the 39th general election with his BC Liberal Party forming the government after winning 49 of province's 85 seats.

Don McRae, Minister of Agriculture

As the 39th Parliament of British Columbia began, McRae was not selected for the Executive Council by Premier Gordon Campbell. McRae was assigned to three parliamentary committees: Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, and the Select Standing Committee on Health. In the parliament's second session he was also assigned to the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth. McRae defended the government budget presented in September 2009 but was disappointed it ran a deficit, blaming an unexpected drop in revenue.[24] Nonetheless, McRae was able to participate in government funding announcements, like $347,400 for ecosystem restoration at the Mount Washington Alpine Resort,[25] and additional funds for sewer upgrades within his riding.[26][27] As a member of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services which introduced the Harmonized Sales Tax McRae faced significant attention from the Fight HST group organized to oppose the tax.[28][29] The group collected over 10,000 signatures from the Comox Valley riding on a petition opposing the HST and launched a recall initiative against McRae.[30] McRae sought legal advice against the recall initiative which he claimed were spreading mis-information, specifically that the group was claiming 12,000 people in his riding had signed the petition against the HST, not 10,000 people.[31] However, the effort to recall McRae eventually failed, having only collected 5,181 of the 19,000 signatures required.[32] Despite McRae supporting the HST, tax payers provincially and in his own riding did not. The subsequent province-wide HST referendum resulted in 14,759 votes (53%) to extinguish the HST system in McRae's Comox Valley riding, with 55% province-wide voting to extinguish the HST.[33]

During the BC Liberal Party leadership election to replace BC Liberal leader, and BC Premier, Gordon Campbell, McRae endorsed George Abbott in December.[34] In March 2011, after Christy Clark won the leadership election and was named Premier, she included McRae into her Executive Council as Minister of Agriculture. Without a background in farming, McRae underwent a steep learning curve which involved travelling across the province to learn about the issues.[35][36] As the minister responsible, McRae accepted the recommendations of the Sled Dog Task Force which investigated the slaughter of nearly 100 sled dogs in Whistler following a drop in tourism after the 2010 Winter Olympics.[37] He followed through with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Act, 2011, which was introduced on May 11 and adopted on June 2. The amendment act increased potential fines to $75,000 and jail terms to two years for animal cruelty charges and extended the statute of limitations on such charges to three years.[38]

In a minor cabinet shuffle, McRae, was promoted to Minister of Education on September 5, 2012.[39]

After the Liberals won the 2013 provincial election, McRae returned to cabinet with the portfolio of Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation.

Election history[edit]

B.C. General Election 2009: Comox Valley
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Don McRae 13,886 47% n/a $92,892
     New Democrat Leslie McNabb 12,508 43% n/a $123,151
Green Hazel Lennox 2,577 9% n/a $3,370
Refederation Paula Berard 266 0.9% n/a $360
     People's Front Barbara Biley 120 0.4% n/a $256
Total Valid Votes 29,357 100%
Total Rejected Ballots 141 0.5%
Turnout 29,498 61%
B.C. General Election 2013: Comox Valley
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Don McRae 14,248 44% -3% $91,950
     New Democrat Kassandra Dycke 12,480 39% -4% $100,605
Green Chris Aikman 3,718 12% +3% $2,680
Conservative Diane Hoffmann 1,740 5% n/a $5,871
Total Valid Votes 32,186 100%
Total Rejected Ballots ? ?
Turnout ? ?

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Veteran councillor wants to be MLA". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). February 26, 2009. p. 10. 
  2. ^ Dane, Colleen (May 14, 2009). "Daddy becomes MLA after all". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 3. 
  3. ^ "City rejects late night bar hours". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). October 6, 2004. p. 1. 
  4. ^ "Late night openings likely to continue". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). February 15, 2006. p. 3. 
  5. ^ "Youth curfew debated". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). August 11, 2006. p. 1. 
  6. ^ "Street name policy consolidated". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). November 8, 2006. p. 5. 
  7. ^ "Valley-wide trail proposed by Courtenay councilor". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). February 10, 2006. p. 5. 
  8. ^ "New appointments announced". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). December 7, 2005. p. 3. 
  9. ^ "Mayor, councillors split over hospital tactics". Campbell River Mirror (Campbell River, British Columbia). March 9, 2007. p. 1. 
  10. ^ "Hospital debate morphed into 16-3 majority for new facility". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). May 25, 2007. p. 1. 
  11. ^ "Frustrated councillor finds CSRD is 'dysfunctional'". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). November 8, 2006. p. 4. 
  12. ^ "Councillor clarifies 'dysfunctional' rant". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). November 29, 2006. p. 6. 
  13. ^ "Politicians vary on amalgamation". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). November 24, 2006. p. 3. 
  14. ^ "Regional district split worries rural areas". Campbell River Mirror (Campbell River, British Columbia). July 20, 2007. p. 1. 
  15. ^ Wiens, Christiana (July 20, 2007). "Valley reps think band should be represented". Courier - Islander (Campbell River, British Columbia). p. 4. 
  16. ^ Dane, Colleen (February 17, 2009). "Shellfish growers' rep wants MLA seat". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 6. 
  17. ^ Dane, Colleen (February 24, 2009). "Liberal candidates grow, and shrink". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 4. 
  18. ^ Dane, Colleen (March 17, 2009). "McRae new Liberal candidate". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 6. 
  19. ^ Dane, Colleen (April 23, 2009). "Berard steps up as fourth candidate". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 2. 
  20. ^ Dane, Colleen (April 28, 2009). "Five candidates seeking your B.C. election vote". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 5. 
  21. ^ Bermingham, John (April 14, 2009). "Hot ridings to watch". The Province (Vancouver). p. 6. 
  22. ^ Ward, Doug (May 5, 2009). "Interior offers voting contrast; Redistribution of some ridings has put them in the too-close-to-call category". The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver). p. 8. 
  23. ^ Haluschak, Erin (May 5, 2009). "B.C. finance minister campaigns for McRae". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 3. 
  24. ^ Dane, Colleen (September 3, 2009). "MLA defends tough budget as right thing to do". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 3. 
  25. ^ "Mt. Washington gets $347,400". Times-Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia). September 17, 2009. p. B1. 
  26. ^ Dane, Colleen (September 24, 2009). "Federal-provincial cash showered on Valley". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 6. 
  27. ^ Scott, Stanfield (June 29, 2009). "Dollars flowing into projects". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 5. 
  28. ^ Dane, Colleen (July 30, 2009). "Harmonized Sales Tax concerns some businesses". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 3. 
  29. ^ Chung, Lindsay (August 19, 2010). "MLA McRae makes HST opponents' hit list". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 6. 
  30. ^ "MLA upset by recallers". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). January 20, 2011. p. 8. 
  31. ^ Stanfield, Scott (January 25, 2011). "MLA recall target is still crying foul". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  32. ^ "Recall campaign falls short in Comox Valley". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). March 23, 2011. 
  33. ^ Haluschak, Erin (August 30, 2011). "HST rejection no surprise in Comox Valley". The Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  34. ^ Fletcher, Tom (December 28, 2010). "Abbott, Falcon duel for endorsements". The Courtenay Comox Valley Record (Courtenay, British Columbia). p. 18. 
  35. ^ Thomson, Heather (April 8, 2011). "Agriculture minister climbs steep learning curve". Alberni Valley Times (Port Alberni, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  36. ^ Steeves, Judie (April 23, 2011). "Agriculture minister tours the Okanagan". Kelowna Capital News (Kelowna, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  37. ^ "Sled dog cull report to be submitted today". Kamloops Daily News (Kamloops, British Columbia). March 25, 2011. p. 7. 
  38. ^ Cooper, Sam (May 12, 2011). "Animal cruelty laws tabled; Sled dog task force proposes steeper fines, jail time". The Province (Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 23. 
  39. ^ "Don McRae is new B.C. education minister, replacing George Abbott". Vancouver Sun Staff Blogs. September 5, 2012. 

External links[edit]