Before embarking on a career in politics, Comox Valley MLA Don McRae had been a teacher at Vanier Secondary, which he had attended as a student.
There are further connections with the Courtenay high school. McRae had attended day care at Vanier, where his father, Doug, had also worked as a teacher.
McRae spent 15 years teaching at his former high school, where he also coached rugby.
His first foray into the workforce was a summer job at Home Hardware in Comox. He was 15 at the time.
McRae later worked weekends at Central Builders in Courtenay.
“Which was a great job because your friends never came in to visit you, and your parents could enjoy your staff discount when they renovated.”
McRae married his high school sweetheart, Deanne. The couple has two daughters: six-year-old Chloe and 12-year-old Gracie.
Aside from teaching and politics, McRae enjoys running, especially on trails in the Comox Valley.
Another passion is karaoke.
Before entering provincial politics, McRae had served several years on Courtenay city council. He was first elected in 2002.
He was elected Comox Valley MLA in 2009, and spent close to four years serving in cabinet. McRae’s ministerial portfolio included the agriculture, education, and Social Development/Social Innovation ministries. He resigned from the latter about a year ago due to a family health concern.
If the opportunity presents itself, he might consider a return to cabinet, but for now he enjoys being close to home.
“I enjoyed the cabinet job because you are the decision arm in government. And you still have input as a private member. But when you hit your 90th hotel stay in a year, or you find yourself flying to Vancouver and farther three or four times a week sometimes, it takes a toll on an individual. Which is fine, you ask for the job. But also, you ask your family to do a lot in your absence.”
McRae calls himself an “accidental politician,” falling into it along the way.
“I’ve enjoyed it. A lot of work, but it definitely wasn’t some sort of master plan to move through various political areas. It just sort of happened one year. What’s that John Lennon quote? ‘Life’s what happens while making other plans.’”