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Michel Côté (MP)

Michel Côté, PC (born September 13, 1942) is a businessman and former Canadian politician.[1]

Michel Côté

Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Langelier
In office
September 4, 1984 – October 1, 1988
Preceded byGilles Lamontagne
Succeeded byGilles Loiselle
Personal details
Born (1942-09-13) September 13, 1942 (age 77)
Political partyProgressive Conservative
ResidenceQuebec City, Quebec
Professionaccountant, businessman

Côté, an accountant and part-owner of the Quebec Remparts junior hockey team prior to entering elected politics,[1] was elected to the House of Commons of Canada in the 1984 Canadian federal election.[2] He represented the electoral district of Langelier as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

Minister of Consumer and Corporate AffairsEdit

He was appointed to the cabinet of prime minister Brian Mulroney as Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.[3] In 1985 he announced a compromise on the still controversial process of metrication in Canada, retaining mandatory metrication in most domains but permitting small retailers to continue using the Imperial measurement system if they had not already finished investing in metric conversion.[4]

Early in his term, he announced that the government was planning reforms to Canadian combines[5] and patent legislation relating to pharmaceutical drugs;[6] he introduced revisions to the Combines Investigation Act in December 1985.[7] Although he oversaw the departmental review of the Patent Act,[8] the government's proposed reforms to drug patents were not introduced to Parliament until after Côté was succeeded by Harvie André in 1986.[9] His reforms to competition legislation included a significant increase to the fines the government could charge in cases of price fixing.[10]

In 1985, he faced some criticism when the government increased its fees for trademark registration to cover the costs of computerizing the process.[11] In July of that year, he represented the government of Canada at the inauguration of Alan García as President of Peru, although the government later faced criticism for the cost of his trip.[12]

In August, he was given the title of Minister responsible for Canada Post Corporation alongside his existing position.[13]

Late in 1985, he promised to work with agriculture minister John Wise to introduce new provisions to help farmers facing bankruptcy,[14] and proposed reforms to federal lobbying regulation, which would have required lobbyists to disclose fees and clients to the government but did not include provisions for this information to be available to the public.[15]

Minister of Regional Industrial ExpansionEdit

In July 1986, Côté was shuffled from Consumer and Social Services to Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion, although he retained the Canada Post role.[16] His change of duties was part of what was billed as Mulroney's "French power" cabinet, in which ministers from Quebec held many of the most powerful roles;[17] however, Côté's political and communication skills began to face some criticism at this time, with Robert McKenzie of the Toronto Star writing that Côté "still looks petrified on TV, glancing continually sideways as if seeking the nearest exit."[17]

In this role, he supported the 1986 bid by Marine Industries to take over Davie Shipbuilding.[18]

In summer 1987, the government announced a major reform of DRIE, converting it from a standalone ministry to a group of regionally-targeted government agencies, such as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario[19] and Western Economic Diversification Canada,[20] under the auspices of an expanded Ministry of Industry, Trade and Commerce.[21] On August 28, an external audit into the ministry was released, which found that it was significantly overspending its budget;[22] the report did not blame Côté, who had in fact commissioned the audit himself to independently review irregularities he had personally identified,[23] but stated that the problems of bureaucratic mismanagement and poor financial record keeping significantly predated his time as minister.[24]

Minister of Supply and ServicesEdit

Although the audit held that Côté was not responsible for the departmental mismanagement, Mulroney shuffled him later the same day from Regional Industrial Expansion to Minister of Supply and Services.[25] Although the opposition New Democratic Party argued in the House of Commons that Côté should be fired from cabinet in light of the report,[23] the criticism died down within a few days.

He held the role until February 2, 1988, when he was dropped from cabinet after violating conflict of interest rules by failing to disclose that he had received a $250,000 personal loan from a government contractor.[26] Following his ouster from cabinet, it was revealed that he had also steered $400,000 in government legal work to his former campaign manager.[27]

He did not run for reelection in the 1988 Canadian federal election.[28]


  1. ^ a b "Cote: green Tory sprout growing up in tough job". The Globe and Mail, February 11, 1985.
  2. ^ "Cartier fete within budget, minister says". The Globe and Mail, October 10, 1984.
  3. ^ "Few surprises, but all regions represented: Mulroney appoints record Cabinet of 40". The Globe and Mail, September 18, 1984.
  4. ^ "Measure of choice: Metric still in force, but imperial allowed". The Globe and Mail, January 31, 1985.
  5. ^ "Merger laws". The Globe and Mail, May 8, 1985.
  6. ^ "Ottawa to revamp procedure on patents". Montreal Gazette, March 7, 1985.
  7. ^ "Ottawa proposes new bill to alter competition laws". The Globe and Mail, December 18, 1985.
  8. ^ "Minister willing to trade patent protection for jobs". Montreal Gazette, October 7, 1985.
  9. ^ "Press on with reform". Montreal Gazette, September 9, 1986.
  10. ^ "Price-fixing law will raise fine to $5 million". Montreal Gazette, December 18, 1985.
  11. ^ "Fee increases on trademarks 'staggering'". The Globe and Mail, May 15, 1985.
  12. ^ "Minister's flight cost taxpayer $43,000". Montreal Gazette, September 12, 1985.
  13. ^ "PM demotes Blais-Grenier and Murta". Toronto Star, August 20, 1985.
  14. ^ "Farm bankruptcy changes promised". Toronto Star, November 10, 1985.
  15. ^ "Ottawa may let registered lobbyists keep fees, clients under wraps: Cote". Montreal Gazette, November 2, 1985.
  16. ^ "Who's who in Prime Minister's cabinet". Toronto Star, July 1, 1986.
  17. ^ a b "Can 'French power' save Mulroney in Quebec?". Toronto Star, August 28, 1986.
  18. ^ "Ottawa backs shipyard bid: Cote says". Montreal Gazette, October 6, 1986.
  19. ^ "Ontario's North to get regional industry agency". Toronto Star, July 12, 1987.
  20. ^ "$1.2 billion plan will aid West Mulroney says". Toronto Star, August 5, 1987.
  21. ^ "Merger of rival departments meant DRIE never had a chance". Montreal Gazette, August 27, 1987.
  22. ^ "Sloppy bookkeeping helped department blow budget: reports". Montreal Gazette, August 28, 1987.
  23. ^ a b "Cote should be fired for losing track of DRIE's spending, Broadbent says". Montreal Gazette, August 29, 1987.
  24. ^ "Bureaucrats the bunglers within DRIE, audit says". The Globe and Mail, August 28, 1987.
  25. ^ "PM replaces ex-ministers in mini-shuffle". Toronto Star, August 28, 1987.
  26. ^ "Mulroney fires Cote for loan conflict". Montreal Gazette, February 3, 1988.
  27. ^ "Cote steered $400,000 in government legal work to friend Sirois". Montreal Gazette, March 3, 1988.
  28. ^ "Fallen Cote says adieu". Windsor Star, August 23, 1988.

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