Robert Coates, Canadian Politician, Died at 87


Robert Carman Coates was born on March 10, 1928, and died on January 11, 2016.
He was a Canadian former politician and Cabinet minister.
Robert was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1957 election as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Cumberland, Nova Scotia.
Robert was a backbencher during the John Diefenbaker and Joe Clark governments.
He was appointed to the Cabinet of Brian Mulroney as Defence Minister following the Tory victory in the 1984 election.
Robert main initiative was the re-introduction of separate uniforms for the naval, land and air branches of the military.
Liberal Paul Hellyer had unified the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force into an integrated Canadian Forces with a single uniform in 1967.
Robert and other Progressive Conservatives had long derided this decision as disrespectful of tradition.
Although it provided a huge boost to military morale, particularly in the navy, the restoration was strongly opposed by the then-Chief of Defence Staff, General Gerard Thériault, on grounds that the dark green imposed in the 1960s was the only possible “distinctly Canadian” uniform colour.
While Robert reintroduced distinctive uniforms for each service, he was unable to reverse the unification of the forces.
Robert resigned from the Cabinet on February 12, 1985, returned to the backbench, and did not run in the 1988 election.
Before politics Coates was a barrister and member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.
Robert Coates passed away at age 87 on January 11, 2016.