Challenger steps forward for Conservative nomination

by Vance Gutzman

Mike Coates is vying to give Cheryl Gallant a run for her money, and wrest the party nomination away from the long-time Conservative MP.

Coates, a public relations and public affairs strategist, was formally given the green light last week to contest the nomination by the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke riding association’s nomination committee.coates2

“I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done,” Coates said during an interview of his wide-ranging career. “Now I want to try something completely different.”

Coates recently retired from a 33-year career with Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and is a long-standing Conservative party insider.

He’s worked on every national campaign for the party between 1998 and 2008, during which time he raised money or Brian Mulroney and helped Stephen Harper prepare for election debates.

Not only did Coates support Harper in his 2004 bid for the Conservative leadership, he also chaired Kevin O’Leary’s campaign for the top job in 2016 after the former Prime Minister had stepped down.

Coates was born and raised in the Maritimes, but he and his wife Maureen have lived in the Ottawa Valley, just outside of Calabogie, for the past 20 years.

Coates says he’s always had an interest in politics, and now that he’s retired he has the opportunity to take that interest to the next level.

Coates said he’d like to work closely with local politicians in this riding to address their concerns on the federal stage, and takes pains not to disparage the incumbent MP.

“It’s not all about Cheryl,” Coates says. “I’m offering a choice.”

> for more on this story, pick up a copy of the January 17 NRT…