“I slept very well last night. I awoke early this morning and kind of thought, oh, I don’t have to go campaigning today but now I have to start being the MLA.”
That was Don McRae in May 2009, the day after winning his first provincial election. Seven years and almost two terms later he says he’s had enough and won’t run for reelection next year.
“You know it’s tough when you have a young family and you wake up in the mornings on Mondays and you don’t get to see them for four days. So I have a young daughter who is six an older daughter who is twelve I”ve been married for almost 21 years now and I never expected to have a job where I’m staying away 90 to 100 to 120 days a year.”
McRae calls himself the accidental politician. The former social studies teacher served on Courtenay City Council for seven years before being nominated to replace long time Liberal Stan Hagen who died suddenly in January 2009.
“I’ve never worked harder in my life and more stressful circumstance in my life in the last eight years. And not stressful in a bad wya, it’s just these are just hard decisions that govefrnment makes and you represent people who are dealing with difficult challenges.”
Today he’s visiting a local Early Years Aboriginal Program at Courtenay Elementary School, a program that Provincial funding is helping to keep alive. He says this is an example of a good day as MLA, but there have been bad ones too like during the teacher strike in 2014 when protesters including former colleagues showed up outside his constituency office.
“It’s really easy to go to fun events like today we’re celebratuing a great resource here in COurtenay elemnetary. It’s difficult to go when you have community members who you know maybe very well or you see a lot and they’re upset or they’re challenged.”
He says Premier Christy Clark was upset when he told her but today she released a statement that reads in part,
“In his roles as Minister of Education, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, and Minister Agriculture, Don faced very different challenges with the same focus, determination, and unflappable good humour.”
McRae says he might return to a teaching job in the Comox Valley where he had technically taken a leave of absence.