Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, a week ago to-day, it was my sad duty to remind hon. members of this house of the first loss which death had occasioned in its membership in this new parliament. Hon. members will have seen in this morning's press, the announcement of the passing last night of another of our number, Mr. Harry Leader, the member for the constituency of Portage la Prairie.
It cannot be said that Mr. Leader's death was unexpected. For years past his health had been steadily failing, and before the end of last session he was obliged to give up his duties in parliament and return to his home.
Mr. Leader knew that he was suffering from the dread disease of cancer, but had hoped that the treatment he was receiving might prolong his life. Some time before the last general elections he announced he would not again be a candidate for parliament, but would devote the remainder of his life to furthering cancer research in whatever way he could. In the belief that he had made some progress towards recovery, Mr. Leader yielded to the wish of his friends and again became a candidate and contested the constituency successfully.
It is not without significance that Mr. Leader's death has occurred at a moment when there is under way a nation-wide campaign for the raising of funds to further cancer research and to combat by all known means the spread of this appalling disease.
Mr. Leader's death should speak even more strongly to the nation than any words or efforts he might have been spared to put forth had his life been further prolonged.
Mr. Leader was bom in Burnside, Manitoba, sixty-six years ago, in what was to become his home constituency-Portage la Prairie. In point of service he was one of the oldest members of parliament, having first entered the House of Commons at the general election of 1921. There are, I believe, only seven members of the present house who can date their first entry into parliament from 1921 or earlier. Mr. Leader's name gained special prominence in the general elections of 1921, at which election he defeated the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen, who at the time was prime minister. Mr. Leader himself was defeated by Mr. Meighen in the general elections of 1925. He did not become a candidate again until 1935, when he was reelected for Portage la Prairie. He was again reelected at the general elections of 1940 and 1945.
Mr. Leader was one of the best known of the western members of parliament. He entered this house and sat as a member of the Progressive party in 1921 until his defeat by Mr. Meighen in 1925. He was then absent from the House of Commons for ten years. In that interval of time he had, like the great majority of Manitoba Progressives become associated with the Liberal party, and when returned in 1935 took his seat on this side of the house.
For most of his life Mr. Leader was a farmer and will be remembered for his strong advocacy of policies which he believed would best serve the interests of the farming communities. He was a well-known figure as a breeder of pure bred cattle. A sterling independence and deep sincerity were outstanding qualities of Mr. Leader's character. In his passing the parliament of Canada has lost one who, throughout his life, had faithfully served the public interest in many fields of activity and who, in his death, has left a record of undaunted effort and heroic endurance.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Leader is survived by his widow, one son and two daughters. I know I express the wishes of all parties in the house when I ask that you convey to Mrs. Leader and other members of the family an expression of very sincere sympathy from all hon. members of the House of Commons.
The Late Harry Leader