Walter Edward Harris PC QC DCL (14 January 1904 – 10 January 1999) was a Canadian politician and lawyer.

Walter Harris
Minister of Finance
In office
1 July 1954 – 20 June 1957
Prime MinisterLouis St. Laurent
Preceded byDouglas Abbott
Succeeded byDonald Fleming
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
In office
9 May 1953 – 12 April 1957
Prime MinisterLouis St. Laurent
Preceded byAlphonse Fournier
Succeeded byHoward Charles Green
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
In office
18 January 1950 – 30 June 1954
Prime MinisterLouis St. Laurent
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded byJack Pickersgill
Minister of Public Works
12 June 1953 – 16 September 1953
Prime MinisterLouis St. Laurent
Preceded byAlphonse Fournier
Succeeded byRobert Winters
Member of Parliament
for Grey—Bruce
In office
26 March 1940 – 9 June 1957
Preceded byAgnes Macphail
Succeeded byEric Winkler
Personal details
Walter Edward Harris

(1904-01-14)14 January 1904
Kimberley, Ontario, Canada
Died10 January 1999(1999-01-10) (aged 94)
Political partyLiberal
SpouseGrace Elma Morrison
  • Barrister
  • Lawyer

Harris was first elected to the House of Commons of Canada as the Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for the Ontario riding of Grey-Bruce in the 1940 election by defeating Agnes MacPhail. Despite being a newly-elected MP, he enlisted in the military, served for four years, and saw action in France during World War II.

He served as parliamentary secretary to Louis St. Laurent when he was Secretary of State for External Affairs in the Mackenzie King cabinet. He continued as parliamentary secretary to St. Laurent when he became Prime Minister of Canada in 1948 to 1950, when St. Laurent brought Harris into the Canadian Cabinet.

Harris served as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration until 1954, when he was promoted to Minister of Finance. He was Finance Minister during a period of great economic growth. During his term of office, he introduced the regulations permitting Registered Retirement Savings Plans, which have become a staple of the financial planning of millions of Canadians.

Before his 1956 budget speech, a journalist from the Montreal Gazette played a joke on a colleague from La Presse by pretending that he had received an advance copy of the budget by mistake. Harris was informed of that and began to draft a letter of resignation until he was informed that the whole story was a prank.

Harris also served as Government House Leader from 1953 to 1957 and thus had to try to manage the government's dealings on the floor of the House of Commons during the 1956 Pipeline Debate. The government imposed closure on debate resulting in an outraged parliamentary opposition that complained of "tyranny" and public complaints that the government was acting in an arrogant manner. Harris became a casualty and lost his seat in the 1957 election that brought John Diefenbaker to power.

In 1958, he attempted a move to provincial politics and ran for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. He led on the first ballot of the Ontario Liberal leadership convention but was defeated by fewer than fifty votes by John Wintermeyer on the third ballot. Following his defeat, Harris retired from politics and returned to his law practice. He was also president and later chairman of Victoria and Grey Trust.[1]



The public library in Markdale, Ontario, is named after Walter Harris.[2] There is also a school named after him in Oshawa, Ontario that is part of the Durham District School Board and offers French Immersion.

There is a Walter Harris fonds at Library and Archives Canada.[3]


  1. ^ "The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search".
  2. ^ "Walter Harris Memorial Library | Grey Highlands Public Library". Archived from the original on 28 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Walter Harris fonds, Library and Archives Canada". 20 July 2017.
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by MP for Grey—Bruce, ON
Succeeded by