Mr. Speaker, for 17 years, Walter Harris served his constituents and his country with great distinction in the House as the MP for Grey-Bruce, as parliamentary secretary and as a fine minister in the cabinet of Louis St. Laurent.
He also served Canada with courage during the second world war.
He was a modest and unassuming man, a man who quietly mastered his brief and got the job done.
He taught himself all the ins and outs of our parliamentary rules. He had a genius for accepting the facts as they were and making the best of them. He was my kind of minister.
However, his modesty never did justice to his record, one that included being named Canada's first minister of citizenship and immigration, carrying through the new Indian Act and working out the details of Newfoundland's entry into Confederation 50 years ago.
Perhaps most of all he will be remembered as the father of the registered retirement savings plan, a legacy of personal retirement security that has become more and more important to Canadians over the years. Every time you see one of those RRSP commercials, think of Walter.
As Minister of Finance he also helped preside over the post-World War II economic expansion in which Canada took its place among the ranks of the leading industrial nations in the world.
I had the privilege of being his friend and benefiting from his support over the years. His integrity, his honour and his commitment to his fellow citizens reflect the finest traditions of service to the community.
I can think of no higher praise for Walter than the words of his law partner: “This is a prince of a person who never harmed anyone”.
I am proud to be able to say that someone of his calibre was also a member of our party. He was a distinguished parliamentarian whom everyone will greatly miss.
To his family and many, many friends, I offer the deepest sympathies of our government and of our caucus.