Mulroney honours Robert Coates
Former justice minister, Nova Scotia MP dies at age 87
Robert Coates, the former defence minister who died this week at the age of 87, was praised Wednesday by Brian Mulroney as an astute politician who should be remembered for far more than his resignation after visiting a German strip club in the 1980s.
“I was very saddened by it (the resignation) at the time,” said the former prime minister.
“He had done nothing wrong. In politics we live in a world of perception as well and given he was minister of National Defence those circumstances caused him to reflect upon it and come to see me and (he) submitted his resignation.”
A family member in Halifax confirmed Coates’ death, but was unavailable for further comment. The Halifax Chronicle Herald reported he had been sick for a short period and died on Monday night.
The longtime member of the Progressive Conservative Party was first elected to represent the Amherst area in Nova Scotia in 1957 and served over 30 years as an MP.
The veteran politician served only six months as Defence Minister in the Mulroney cabinet before the scandal. He didn’t reoffer in the next federal campaign, but Mulroney appointed his friend to a federal trade tribunal, where he served for a decade before retiring to his home province
Mulroney said in a telephone interview that Coates’ service for three decades as a Nova Scotia MP and in the ranks of the Progressive Conservative party should outweigh his departure from cabinet.
Mulroney said Coates had a hand in files ranging from the creation of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the creation of the Confederation Bridge between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and the offshore mineral rights deal cut with former Nova Scotia premier John Buchanan.