Robert Carman COATES

COATES, The Hon. Robert Carman, P.C., Q.C., B.A., LL.B., LL.D.

Personal Data

Party
Progressive Conservative
Constituency
Cumberland--Colchester (Nova Scotia)
Birth Date
March 10, 1928
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Coates_(politician)
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=f8c074be-3032-4ab6-af4f-11618169c92a&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
author, barrister, lawyer

Parliamentary Career

June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
PC
  Cumberland (Nova Scotia)
March 31, 1958 - April 19, 1962
PC
  Cumberland (Nova Scotia)
June 18, 1962 - February 6, 1963
PC
  Cumberland (Nova Scotia)
April 8, 1963 - September 8, 1965
PC
  Cumberland (Nova Scotia)
November 8, 1965 - April 23, 1968
PC
  Cumberland (Nova Scotia)
June 25, 1968 - September 1, 1972
PC
  Cumberland--Colchester North (Nova Scotia)
October 30, 1972 - May 9, 1974
PC
  Cumberland--Colchester North (Nova Scotia)
July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
PC
  Cumberland--Colchester North (Nova Scotia)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
PC
  Cumberland--Colchester (Nova Scotia)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
PC
  Cumberland--Colchester (Nova Scotia)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
PC
  Cumberland--Colchester (Nova Scotia)
  • Minister of National Defence (September 17, 1984 - February 12, 1985)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 505)


June 8, 1988

Mr. Coates:

This has never been a partisan political issue. It has been a personal battle between myself and The Ottawa Citizen over the offensive words contained in a February 12th, 1985, article in that paper which states that by visiting a bar in Lahr, West Germany, I had posed a risk to my security and thus the nation's security. Those statements and others relating to security caused me to resign my portfolio for, in my opinion, I could not perform my responsibilities as Minister of National Defence with that cloud, through those words, hanging over my head.

In my view, then and today, that story severely damaged my reputation and libelled me. The fact it has taken three years and four months and many thousands of dollars on my part, and over $1 million on the part of The Ottawa Citizen by its own admission, to remove those offensive words indicates the awesome power of the media when they determine they are not going to admit to an obvious libel. The fact they would spend over $1 million to stay out of court on the main issue of the libel makes it absolutely obvious that they knew that by going to court they would have been found guilty of that libel.

However, what it has told me, and tells all Members of this House, is that the media, playing fast and loose with the reputations of Members of Parliament, can with their great wealth and awesome power prevent justice from being done. It is often said that justice delayed is justice denied. In my case that is certainly the fact.

If it had not been for my friends I could not have seen this matter through to this satisfactory conclusion. Without friends I would not have cleared my name. The Ottawa Citizen was prepared to use legal tactics to prolong the case by a further two years. That is the reason for the settlement. However, with the removal of the security implications, there is and was no story to write. I must thank Gerald Doucet for his assistance in putting forward an arrangement that allowed individual Canadians to contribute to my defence fund. The Government of Canada made no contribution to that fund.

Point of Order-Mr. Wilson

The Ottawa Citizen makes a point of stating there was no payment made by them to me in the settlement. I never sought financial gain from this libel action. I sought only to have my name cleared, and this has finally happened.

I must thank the Members of all Parties in this House, for they have been both kind and supportive of my efforts to clear my name. I must thank my family for their commitment throughout this ordeal, and it was an ordeal. I also must thank the many lawyers who gave me assistance in this libel action.

What we as Members of Parliament must now face is a concern for the ordinary Canadian who is libelled by the media. If I, with my friends, could not secure my day in court, what chance is there for the ordinary Canadian, if libelled, to secure his or her day in court? There cannot be two levels of justice in this nation, one for the rich and one for the not so rich. However, that in my view is what this libel action has been all about. It is not libel chill but the chilling impact of the awesome power of the media to do what they wish and, because of their wealth, prevent justice from being done.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ronald Mitton, the lawyer who handled my case in Nova Scotia from the beginning to the end. I am very relieved and pleased today to be standing in this House and being able to say to you, Sir, that I have cleared my name.

Thank you very much.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
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June 8, 1988

Mr. Coates:

It therefore pleases me that today that I have had the only blot on my reputation as a Member of Parliament removed by The Ottawa Citizen.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
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June 8, 1988

Hon. Robert C. Coates (Cumberland-Colchester):

Mr. Speaker, on Friday of this week I will celebrate my 31st anniversary as a Member of Parliament.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
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March 6, 1986

Mr. Coates:

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the Hon. Member's remarks and I also appreciate her special work in relation to the former Hon. Member for Prince Albert, the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker. I wish her well in that regard. I am looking forward to the birthday celebration this September.

I would like to say that it has been many years since I can recall a Budget which actually, in a very forthright way, tackled the deficit, and which has given us the long-term projections which, in turn, give us some hope that some day we might be able to balance the Budget in this country again. I was in the House at a time when Ministers of Finance did bring in balanced Budgets, but it was a long time ago.

Today we have a great concern about our dollar as compared with the United States dollar, whether it is at 70 cents, 68 cents or 72 cents. I think it is important to stabilize our

The Budget-Hon. R. Coates

dollar somewhere. More importantly, as far as myself and other Hon. Members in this House are concerned, we must stabilize it at a point, even if it is below 70 cents, which will allow interest rates to come down. For instance, a two point reduction in interest rates would mean $100 a month less for a person carrying a $70,000 mortgage. That is a big incentive to our Party, and to our Government, to try and get interest rates down at least two points. Let us hope that when the dollar is stabilized-at whatever level it is stabilized-we will be able to move interest rates down in a positive way, which will be of assistance to all people carrying mortgages at the present time.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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March 6, 1986

Hon. Robert C. Coates (Cumberland-Colchester):

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to enter this debate and indicate my strong support for the initiatives taken by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) in this Budget, as well as for the direction he has given this country since he assumed that portfolio. This is the third major initiative he has taken. His first was in November, 1984 when he laid down a program which indicated his strong intentions to move against the horrific deficit this country was facing. He was going to try to bring our accounts into order so that not only this but future generations would derive some long-term benefit from his actions. He moved from there to his Budget last year. We now have this Budget. We are onstream, moving in the right direction, and at the same time showing the Canadian people that the extra taxes we are going to extract from them will be far less than the cut-back in the over-involvement of Government in the lives of Canadians. As a result, we will be moving forward into the next decade in a way which should give every Canadian confidence that they have a man steering our economic course who fully understands the complexity of the financial situation in this nation. He has taken the type of steps that can only be of long-term benefit to the nation.

I noted that one Member, in questioning an opposition Member, indicated that 70 per cent of the cuts have come out of Government services. In other words, we are cutting back a bloated bureaucracy in a way which can only be of benefit to all Canadians. This will produce long-term savings for the people of this nation and result in their having to pay less taxes over the long term. I happen to come from Atlantic Canada and the only Prime Minister, until this Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney), who really took a serious look at our economic problems and tried to take innovative actions of long-term benefit to our area was John Diefenbaker. The Diefenbaker years were good years for our part of Canada. In this Budget I see some new thinking, some innovative thinking, some real programs that are going to produce long-term benefits for the

March 6, 1986

people who live in Atlantic Canada. I congratulate not only the Minister of Finance, but the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion (Mr. Stevens) and other Ministers in this Government for taking special time to put together new and innovative programs. I know they will produce a degree of momentum in the development of new industry in our part of Canada and new permanent jobs that are going to be of long-term benefit to our area.

I want to also congratulate the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Wise), who is in the House, and to tell him how much I have appreciated the personal attention he has given to problems that face Atlantic Canada. I would like to congratulate him for the special and very good innovative thinking on the type of programs he has produced which are going to make the agricultural community once again know that it has a friend in Ottawa who is putting forward new programs and plans that are going to be of long-term benefit to them.

We have a lot of problems in Atlantic Canada. The Minister of Agriculture needs a lot of help from Members from all sides of the House. We still need feed grain assistance and we need a new program for the development of feed grains in our own area that the Minister is moving forward with now in a very positive way. I congratulate him for that, and I say to him that while we are in the period of developing the new initiatives for the development of feed grain production in our part of Canada we still need the additional feed grain assistance. This will allow our agricultural community to hold down their costs of production to compete in a fair and equal way with other farm products in this country. I have had numerous meetings with the Minister, and I find him to be up on everything in his Department. I find him to be very sympathetic to the problems that people face in our area, and I congratulate him for the work he has done.

I would now like to spend just a moment talking about what is happening in Atlantic Canada, specifically initiatives the Minister of Finance took in his Budget relating to Atlantic Canada that will mean new jobs, new opportunities and new developments for our people. One of the most important is the Atlantic Enterprise Program. This program is designed to help the private sector in this part of Canada grow, to stimulate the economy, and to provide the jobs and diversity we need.

This is only the latest step in a series of measures this Government has taken in support of the Atlantic economy since its election in September 1984. In total, during that period the federal Government has committed $1.5 billion to support economic development in Atlantic Canada. Some $611 million has gone to Newfoundland, $90 million to Prince Edward Island, $372 million to Nova Scotia, $328 million to New Brunswick and $100 million to the Atlantic region of Quebec. Our Government has not made empty promises. We have taken action to create employment and economic stimulus for Atlantic Canada. The budgetary measures announced by the Minister of Finance have heralded more growth for the region. The programs it contains are good news and takes the

The Budget-Hon. R. Coates

special needs of the Atlantic provinces into account. Together they will promote investment to bring in new employers and help existing businesses to expand.

The Atlantic Enterprise Program will provide the new initiative the Government felt was necessary to give Atlantic Canada an edge. It will build on the strength of the private sector, because we believe that this is the way to achieve the long-term economic growth which is needed in the region.

It contains two basic components. The first is loan insurance for businesses which need capital to establish or expand. The program will insure up to 85 per cent of the loans provided in the capital security, so important to a new or growing enterprise. Second, the Atlantic Enterprise Program will provide less expensive capital for businesses being established or expanded. It will reduce loan interest by up to 6 per cent. This can make a critical difference between a marginal and a profitable enterprise.

To give you an example, it means that someone who today has to borrow money at 13 per cent can have that 13 per cent reduced to as much as 7 per cent in projecting his forward movement as a new or an expanded industry in our area. It is a big incentive for a businessman who is either thinking of establishing in Atlantic Canada or who is thinking of expanding his operation there. This is a significant program which will provide $1 billion in loan assistance in the region. The result will be a healthy private sector which is essential to Atlantic Canada.

The Atlantic Opportunities Program is another federal initiative which will be of important benefit to the region. This consists of a series of special measures to significantly increase the level of public purchasing in Atlantic Canada over the next four years.

I want to congratulate the Minister of Supply and Services (Mr. Mclnnes), a new Minister in this Government, for taking hold of his Department and producing a program like this that is bound to be of tremendous benefit to our area. What he hopes to do is expand purchasing in Atlantic Canada from $1.6 billion to $2.2 billion, an increase of nearly 40 per cent in actual purchasing in our area. This $600 million dollar increase will generate an average of 5,000 new jobs a year.

That is what it is all about. That is what we mean when we are taking action and producing jobs for people in a real and concrete way. For so long I sat here in Opposition and watched the former Government throw money at every problem and produce what I call gyp programs, because everybody got gypped. The people who got the jobs got gypped because they got 10 or 12 weeks of UIC and then they got 40 weeks of doing nothing to requalify for UIC. They were locked into a UIC syndrome that meant they could never really improve the lives they lived. Nor did they have any hope of improving the lives that they lived. What we are doing is producing firm, permanent, long-term jobs for people rather than the gyp-program jobs of the last Trudeau Government. The Grits were gyps, and that is why they are out and that is why they are going to stay out.

March 6, 1986

The Budget-Hon. R. Coates

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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