Marcel Côté could receive civic funeral

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says a civic funeral is possible for Marcel Côté, his rival in last year’s mayoral contest, who died on Sunday from a heart attack at 71.

Tributes pour in for former Montreal mayor candidate who died Sunday of a heart attack at 71

Marcel Côté, right, poses with his fellow candidates for mayor (from left) Richard Bergeron, Denis Coderre and Mélanie Joly in Montreal's 2013 municipal election. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says a civic funeral is possible for Marcel Côté, his rival in last year’s mayoral contest who died on Sunday from a heart attack at 71.

Coderre said he would discuss the option with Côté’s family.

“Clearly the City of Montreal will do something,” Coderre said. “He’s a great Montrealer. He deserves it.”

The flag at City Hall was lowered to half-mast Monday in Côté's honour.

Tributes have been pouring in for the man who led the Coalition Montreal party to a fourth place finish in the 2013 municipal election.

Côté's death while participating in a bike race in the Lanaudière region Sunday stunned his many friends and colleagues, who knew him for his energy and good health.

“I am absolutely shocked. He would only use a Bixi to get around,” said Louise Harel, who ran for city council under the Coalition Montreal banner.

Harel said ​Côté was a man of simple pleasures who was generous both with his time and his money.

“The more you got to know him, the more you appreciated him,” she told Radio-Canada.

Mélanie Joly, who ran against Côté in last fall's mayoral race, also remembered him as rival full of vigour and ideas for Montreal.

"He was a charming person and very direct, but always wanted to better things, to find concrete solutions. More than that, he believed in the potential of Montreal," she told CBC News. 

Côté was known for his philanthropy and in 2012 he was presented with the Arts-Affaires de Montréal prize awarded jointly by Montreal’s Board of Trade and the city’s arts council.

Prior to entering politics, Côté had a distinguished career as an economist and founder of the SECOR management consulting firm.

Quebec’s Premier Philippe Couillard issued a news release expressing great admiration for Côté, whom knew him through his work with SECOR.

“Affable, passionate and creative, he had a thousand and one ideas for developing the economy of Montreal, Quebec and Canada. His engagement at the social, cultural, political and community level was remarkable. We’ve lost a great Montrealer and a great Quebecer,” Couillard said.

Former premier Lucien Bouchard, who worked alongside Côté at the federal level in the government of Brian Mulroney, remembered his old colleague for his warmth and conviviality.

“He was a very positive man, always looking for a solution,” Bouchard said. “He was a dynamo.”

Architect Phyllis Lambert knew Côté well, and supported his 2013 campaign for mayor.

"When I knew that he was going to run for mayor, I was so thrilled because I'd had enough of politicians, enough of the dishonesty. Here was a man of great probity [running]," she said.

Lambert cited his educational background as evidence of the broad scope that Côté brought to municipal and civic affairs in Montreal.

In addition to studying physical science and economics, Côté was also a fellow at the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs at Harvard University.

Côté also touched those outside the halls of power. He mentored many young entrepreneurs who were just starting out.

Alexandre Taillefer was 26 and launching his own start-up when he met Côté, who later served on the board of his company.

"Despite my young age, he would meet me any time I needed help and would introduce me to the right people. I don't think I was special, Marcel was like that with a lot of people," Taillefer told CBC Radio's Daybreak host Mike Finnerty.