Will four Olympic medals be enough to get Adam van Koeverden into the House of Commons?

federal election 2019By Pepper Parr

October 17th, 2019



He is described as a “long time Liberal” who has won four Olympic medals, the most by any Canadian paddler – as well as two world championships. He was Canada’s flagbearer at the Olympic Games in Athens and Beijing. One of his Olympic medals was gold.

Adam van Koeverden received early support from a broad spectrum of community and business leaders in Milton and spent several weeks knocking on doors and meeting with the families within the riding.” He is reported to be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s choice.

36 year old, single, van Koeverden said in an interview that he “would like to marry at some point, settle down and raise a family but that as an Olympian that wasn’t possible.”

“You put everything you have into the sport”. He did that and did very well. Now he is in the world of politics taking on Lisa Raitt who has held the seat for three elections.

AVK kayakKoeverden’s campaign is said to put an emphasis on youth, sport, physical education and healthy communities.

Choosing celebrities, be they in sports, entertainment or high profile business people, has pluses and minuses.  Van Koeverden has literally no experience in the world of politics. he has some ideas and he has energy.

As an Olympian he worked for the Canadian Olympic Association and interacted with government on funding issues and has a feel for the way government works if not any actual experience.

Adam van Koeverden was born in Toronto, went to a Catholic high school and studied at McMaster University where science and kinesiology were his focus.

His parents were Dutch, came to Canada and lived all their lives in co-op housing, a form of housing in which the residents have no equity interest.

People who live in co-ops are expected to do much of the maintenance work and to care for the property. The upside is that rents stay very low – but when a person moves out they aren’t selling anything – the organization owns the property.

Adam van Koeverden thinks co-ops are both an excellent model and a solution to the housing affordability crisis that the country faces.

The concept has much to commend it – getting people away from the idea of owning their homes and starting out with something small and building equity would be a very hard sell in this country.

Adam applies his enthusiasm to just about everything he does – expect to hear a lot from him on the co-op housing issue should he find himself representing Milton in the House of Commons.

Adam took part in the 1997 Canada Games and paddled out of the BurlOak Canoe Club.

Adam van K H&SWhen he competed at his last athletic event he wasn’t sure what he was going to do next. Working within the Olympic movement was a possibility – politics had been suggested.

Once he had the nomination he began knocking on doors. “Those were lonely days” he said.

Milton was not home town for him. He moved from Oakville.

He wasn’t as well versed on the issues in the part of Burlington that are within the Milton constituency boundary – the Air Park issue that took years to resolve was not something van Koeverden could say much about.

During our interview van Koeverden said that theory is not his strong point; he prefers to get in front of people, listen and work with them.

He describes himself as a strong role model and is active and TV clipa strong supporter of PLAY, Right to Play’s new initiative to help Aboriginal youth in Canada, a program he’s passionate about. He donated $5,000 to kick-start a campaign.
PLAY — Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth — is already serving more than 3,500 children in 90 communities.

Koeverden became an athlete ambassador with RTP; traveled to Africa several times, and visited the Palestine territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank last month.

“I have a hard time using very strong positive adjectives to describe trips to the field with Right to Play, because as great as these trips are, and as illuminating and life-affirming and everything, they’re still very difficult because it’s a real recognition of the challenges that exist in the world,” van Koeverden said.

The race for the Milton seat might be up for grabs but it will take more than sports celebrity to defeat a two time winner.  Koeverden’s ground game will be the deciding issue; the Prime Minister that wanted him running in the constituency might become a cross Adam van Koeverden is going to have to bear.

Related news story:

Lisa Raitt has a fight on her hands.

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2 comments to Will four Olympic medals be enough to get Adam van Koeverden into the House of Commons?

  • Carie DeMunck

    I am A little bit late on this comment, as Mr Van Koeverden has already been elected. As a young man who spent half his life training for and competing in Olympics, I am sure Mr. Van Koeverden has experienced his share of politics, albeit in a different capacity. He probably has quite a good skill set to bring to the table in Parliament. Though not in his riding, I am curious and eager to see how he cuts his teeth in Ottawa.

  • Stephen White

    Actually, Mr. van Koeverden’s ideas about co-op housing are both practical and deserving of further investigation at all levels of government. Politicians talk ad nauseam about housing affordability but I haven’t seen or heard a practical proposal yet on how to meaningfully address the problem. There are numerous examples of worthwhile co-op housing developments.

    High rise condominium developments aren’t the answer, and the only ones who can afford to live there anyway are offshore investors and empty-nesters. Developers don’t want to build low-rise claiming they can’t make a profit (or is that “exorbitant profits”). Granny flats aren’t being embraced by home-owners with larger lots. Shoe-horning millions more people into the GTA living in 400 sq. ft. chicken co-ops in downtown Toronto is neither appealing nor realistic in the long-term for people hoping to have children.

    Maybe the City could expropriate all those empty mansions on Lakeshore Road and convert them to co-op housing. I bet the tenants in co-op housing would be a lot better behaved than the rich, spoiled socialites now terrorizing the surrounding neighbourhood.