National Newswatch
National Opinion Centre

One of his era’s most important political advisors was born in High River, Alberta on this date in 1938. Jim Coutts went on to serve as Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s Appointments Secretary. Later, he became Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s Principal Secretary and served in this crucial non-elected post from 1975 until 1981.

He passed into history in 2013. At the time of his death, his friend and Trudeau PMO colleague, Tom Axworthy, said Coutts played key roles in the patriation of Canada’s Constitution.

He was part of those discussions about the constitution at the beginning, the middle, and the end,” Axworthy told the Toronto Star. “His view was that in terms of the constitution, you had to have a federal government that retained enough authority to make equal opportunities happen. He didn’t see government as the problem, but as a positive contributor. One of the joys of my life was to work with him. I not only learned a lot, but he was brilliant fun to be with, and how many people have a boss like that?”

Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist.  He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy.  A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.
The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on National Newswatch are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.
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