Clifton De Coteau with UNC political leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, at her office in Penal, in a photo from December 2020. (Image: KRISTIAN DE SILVA)
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Condolences are continuing to pour in for former UNC minister, Clifton De Coteau, who died this morning (Friday 22 January 2021).

De Coteau had just returned from buying his morning newspapers when he collapsed.

In a statement immediately after his death, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar described De Coteau as one of the nation’s “finest sons of the soil”.

“Clifton was a true stalwart of the United National Congress, offering our members, and by extension, our nation, decades of committed service for the betterment of the people of T&T. Few people have had the distinguished honour of serving at all levels of our great party as Clifton did, a testament not only of his commitment to the UNC but dedication to our country,” she said.

She noted that De Coteau moved through the ranks of the party, serving as a Local Government Representative, Member of Parliament, Cabinet Minister, Alderman, Vice Chairman of the National Executive, as well as Education Officer. 

“Clifton was more than just a UNC representative.  He embodied the true beauty of humanity in his actions of kindness, people-centred approach, and love for those around him.  It was these qualities which enabled him to be the first UNC MP for Moruga/Tableland,” she added.

Fondly known as “Uncle Coto”, Persad-Bissessar said his service extended beyond politics.

“As a teacher, school principal and school supervisor, he was able to impact the lives of thousands of students throughout our nation. Coto had an impeccable work ethic. When he served as Minister, he would be in his office by 5 am each morning. That was his dedication and passion for service,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said the UNC have lost a friend, a brother, a father figure and most of all, a patriot.

Meanwhile, his former colleagues have extended condolences.

MP for Pointe-a-Pierre, Dr David Lee, described Clifton De Coteau as “a great statesman”, noting that his passing is a tremendous loss to the nation.

“He was a person who always put others before himself, as he believed in helping others, no matter the situation.  He was a man who believed in improving the lives of those around him,” MP Lee said in a statement in social media.

Former Agriculture Minister, Devant Maharaj, said De Coteau was always one to offer quick solutions to problems.

MP for Mayaro, Rushton Paray, said De Coteau was his friend and mentor.