Douglas Harkness

Douglas Scott Harkness, OC, GM, ED, PC (March 29, 1903 – May 2, 1999) was a Canadian politician, teacher, farmer and former lieutenant colonel in the Royal Canadian Artillery.

Douglas Harkness

Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Calgary Centre
In office
June 25, 1968  October 29, 1972
Preceded byDistrict was created in 1966
Succeeded byHarvie Andre
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Calgary North
In office
August 10, 1953  June 24, 1968
Preceded byDistrict was created in 1952
Succeeded byEldon Woolliams
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Calgary East
In office
June 11, 1945  August 9, 1953
Preceded byGeorge Henry Ross
Succeeded byJohn Kushner
Personal details
Douglas Scott Harkness

(1903-03-29)March 29, 1903
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DiedMay 2, 1999(1999-05-02) (aged 96)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Political partyProgressive Conservative
CabinetMinister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (1957)
Minister of Agriculture (1957–1960)
Minister of National Defence (1960–1963)
Military service
Branch/service Canadian Army
Years of service1940–1949
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Unit4th Canadian Armoured Division
Battles/warsWorld War II

Early life and military service

He was born in Toronto, Ontario and moved to Calgary, Alberta in 1929. He graduated from the University of Alberta, then farmed and taught school in the vicinity of Red Deer.[1] He taught at Crescent Heights High School until 1939.

He fought during the Second World War from 1940 to 1945, serving in the European theater of war. He was posted to Great Britain, Sicily, Italy and Northwest Europe.[1] In 1943 was awarded the George Medal "in recognition of conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner".[2] Harkness was aboard a troopship when it was torpedoed transiting from Sicily to England. Harkness was awarded the medal for his organization of the abandonment of the ship. In 1945, Harkness was the commanding officer of the 5th Anti-Tank Regiment of the 4th Armoured Division. After returning from the war, Harkness returned to farming, residing in De Winton, Alberta, south of Calgary.[1]

Member of Parliament

In 1945, he was elected to the House of Commons of Canada for the constituency of Calgary East and briefly held the Cabinet positions of Minister of Northern Affairs and Minister of National Revenue under the government of John Diefenbaker. He was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on August 7, 1957 as Minister of Agriculture.[1]

He was appointed Minister of National Defence, being sworn in on October 11, 1960.[1] Harkness precipitated a political crisis when he resigned from cabinet in February 1963 in order to protest Diefenbaker's opposition to stationing American nuclear warheads in Canada. The resignation precipitated a split in the cabinet and contributed to the defeat of the government in the 1963 federal election. However, Harkness continued to sit as a Member of Parliament until 1972.

Post-political career

He lived in Calgary until his death in 1999. In 1978 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. The Douglas Harkness Community School in Calgary is named in his honour.

Parliamentary functions


  1. "New Minister Won GM at Sea". The Crowsnest. Vol. 12 no. 12. Ottawa: Queen's Printer. October 1960. p. 2.
  2. "No. 36427". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 17 March 1944. p. 1265.
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