Willard Phelps

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The Honourable
Willard Phelps
2nd Premier of Yukon
In office
March 23, 1985 – May 28, 1985
Commissioner Douglas Bell
Preceded by Chris Pearson
Succeeded by Tony Penikett
Legislative Assembly of Yukon
In office
October 19, 1992 – 30 September 1996
Preceded by position established
Succeeded by Dave Keenan
Constituency Ross River-Southern Lakes
Legislative Assembly of Yukon
In office
May 13, 1985 – October 19, 1992
Preceded by Al Falle
Succeeded by position abolished
Constituency Hootalinqua
Yukon Territorial Council
In office
October 7, 1974 – June 13, 1975
Preceded by position established
Succeeded by Walt Lengerke
Constituency Whitehorse Riverdale
Personal details
Born (1941-10-23) October 23, 1941 (age 75)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Political party Progressive Conservative
Occupation lawyer

Willard Leroy Phelps (born October 23, 1941) is a former Yukon politician, who briefly served as Government Leader in 1985.[1]


Born in 1941, he was the grandson of Willard "Deacon" Phelps and the son of John Phelps, both former members of the Yukon Territorial Council. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1968 with a law degree.

Political career[edit]

Phelps was first elected to the Yukon Territorial Council in 1974, but his election was overturned in 1975 after Don Branigan filed for a court injunction on the grounds that as the government was renting space in Phelps' commercial real estate holdings for some of its liquor stores, his serving on the council placed him in a conflict of interest.

He did not run for the Yukon Legislative Assembly in the elections of 1978 or 1982. However, with the resignation of Chris Pearson as government leader in 1985 the Progressive Conservatives chose Phelps as its new leader and he was accordingly the second Government Leader[2] from March 23 to May 28, 1985,[3] when the Yukon NDP took office after winning the 1985 election. Phelps was leader of the opposition from 1985 until 1991. When the Progressive Conservatives became the Yukon Party, Phelps became an Independent Alliance MLA but sat in the new party's caucus.

When John Ostashek's Yukon Party took power in 1992 with a minority government, Phelps lent his support and became minister of justice, health and social services. In 1994 he dropped the justice portfolio and picked up responsibility for education. In his responsibilities for social services, Phelps instituted welfare reform hiring private investigators to look into welfare recipients. He also argued for the privatization of the government owned energy concern. Phelps resigned his cabinet positions in March 1996. Phelps ran for re-election but lost his seat in the fall election.

Phelps formed the United Citizens Party of Yukon in 2009 to oppose the government of Dennis Fentie. He resigned as the party leader on May 9, 2011 due to health reasons and waning interest.[4]


  1. ^ Index: Pe-Ph at rulers.org
  2. ^ Profile of Willard Phelps at Opportunities North 2008
  3. ^ "Territory File - Premiers - Yukon". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ "United Citizens Party of Yukon loses leader". CBC News. May 9, 2011.