Ex-cabinet minister Harvie Andre remembered

Tributes have poured in for former federal cabinet minister Harvie Andre, who passed away at age 72.
Former federal Conservative cabinet minister Harvie Andre is seen in 2002, when he was chairman of Calgary's ArctiGas. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Tributes have poured in for former federal cabinet minister Harvie Andre, who passed away at age 72.

Andre served six terms as the Progressive Conservative member of Parliament for Calgary Centre, starting in 1972. He died of cancer on Sunday.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford remembered him as a mentor and friend in a tribute on Facebook.

"When Harvie was in the room he commanded attention not only because of his expertise, but also his sense of humour and kindness. He was respected and highly regarded by all members of the House and considered a true parliamentarian."

In a House of Commons speech Monday, Liberal leader Bob Rae called Andre "a committed Conservative, a feisty debater and an extraordinarily hard working member of Parliament and minister."

Andre held numerous portfolios including minister of consumer and corporate affairs, minister of state for science and technology and minister responsible for Canada Post. In 1990, he was appointed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as government House leader. 

In a 2006 magazine interview for his alma mater, the University of Alberta, Andre was described as one of "Mulroney’s most reliable troubleshooters, a real go-to guy in the Progressive Conservative cabinet. He was asked to sort through the most complex administrative tangles imaginable and generally succeeded." He is also credited with turning around Canada Post.

Tributes on Twitter Monday recalled Andre's quip about lobbyists: "I’ve never understood why it’s so much more profitable to know Harvie Andre than to be Harvie Andre," a quote found in Peter C. Newman’s book The Secret Mulroney Tapes. In an interview, Calgary political scientist Duane Bratt described the line as "one of the great quotes of Canadian political life."

After his retirement from politics in 1993,  Andre took his experience into business, holding positions such as chairman of ArctiGas, chairman of Bow Energy Resources, and chief executive of Wenzel Downhole Tools Ltd. Andre was also the federal government's chief negotiator on the devolution of the Northwest Territories, involving the transfer of land and resources from federal government control to territorial.

Andre was married to his wife Joan, with three children and four grandchildren.

"We would like to thank all the professionals at Alberta Health Services who have helped care for him over the last months," said the family in a statement. "Harvie had a deep passion for his province and country, but his first dedication was always to family. He will be truly missed by us all."