Mr. Speaker, Walter Harris, who passed away not long ago, was born January 14, 1904 in Kimberley, Ontario. In other words, he lived through almost the entire 20th century. In his 95 years, he served his fellow citizens in his community and his country well as a lawyer, soldier, member of parliament and minister.
Walter Harris was elected for the first time in 1940 in the riding of Grey—Bruce. In his first term of office, he served in the Canadian army during the second world war. Re-elected in 1945, he soon became Louis St. Laurent's right hand man.
In fact, Prime Minister Mackenzie King appointed him parliamentary secretary to Mr. St. Laurent, when the latter was appointed secretary of state for foreign affairs in 1947. When he became prime minister, Mr. St. Laurent kept Walter Harris on as parliamentary secretary.
Mr. Harris' patience and loyalty were rewarded. After his return to office in 1949, he was appointed to cabinet as minister of citizenship and immigration. The position was especially important because Canadian citizenship had just been made distinct from British citizenship, and, in this post-war period, Canada was getting thousands of immigrants.
Re-elected again in 1953, Walter Harris took on his heaviest responsibilities in the final three years of his career. From 1954 to 1957, as Canada was going through a period of expansion, he served as minister of finance.
Of the three budgets that he brought down, it is the second one that gave him the greatest shock. In this regard, I would like to recount an anecdote.
Before the 1956 budget speech, a journalist from the Montreal Gazette wanted to play a trick on a colleague from La Presse and pretended that he had received, by mistake, a full copy of the new budget. The other journalist quickly informed the Prime Minister's office, which called the minister of finance. Having heard the rumour about a budget leak, the minister set to the task of writing his letter of resignation.
Fortunately, the prime minister already knew what had happened and he sent a secretary to inform the minister of finance that the whole thing was a joke. History has a way of repeating itself.
After 1957, Walter Harris had a long career as a lawyer in Markham, Ontario. He and his wife Grace Elma Morrison had three children, Fern, Margaret Helen and Robert Walter.
The Bloc Quebecois offers its most sincere condolences to all the surviving members of his family, and to the members of the Liberal party who knew him.