Errick Willis
Errick French Willis (March 21, 1896 – January 9, 1967) was a politician in Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. He served as leader of the province's Conservative Party
Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba
The Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba is the only right wing political party in Manitoba, Canada. It is also the official opposition party in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.-Origins and early years:...

 between 1936 and 1954, and was responsible for beginning and ending the party's alliance with the Liberal-Progressive Party
Manitoba Liberal Party
The Manitoba Liberal Party is a political party in Manitoba, Canada. Its roots can be traced to the late nineteenth-century, following the province's creation in 1870.-Origins and early development :...

. He also served as Manitoba's 15th Lieutenant Governor
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba
The Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba is the viceregal representative in Manitoba of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who operates distinctly within the province but is also shared equally with the ten other jurisdictions of Canada and resides predominantly in her oldest realm, the United...

 between 1960 and 1965.

Willis was born in Boissevain
Boissevain, Manitoba
Boissevain is a town in Manitoba near the North Dakota border. It is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Morton. It is notable for its proximity to the International Peace Garden, a short drive south on Highway 10. The town also displays a number of wall murals as a tourist attraction...

, Manitoba. He was the son of R.G. Willis, himself the leader of the Conservative Party from 1919 to 1920.

The younger Willis received a BA
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 from the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

, an MA
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 from the University of Manitoba
University of Manitoba
The University of Manitoba , in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is the largest university in the province of Manitoba. It is Manitoba's most comprehensive and only research-intensive post-secondary educational institution. It was founded in 1877, making it Western Canada’s first university. It placed...

 and an LL.B
Bachelor of Laws
The Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate, or bachelor, degree in law originating in England and offered in most common law countries as the primary law degree...

 from the University of Manitoba
University of Manitoba
The University of Manitoba , in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is the largest university in the province of Manitoba. It is Manitoba's most comprehensive and only research-intensive post-secondary educational institution. It was founded in 1877, making it Western Canada’s first university. It placed...

. He subsequently worked as a barrister and farmer, and was involved in local masonic
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...


Willis began his political career at the federal level. He was a Conservative
Conservative Party of Canada (historical)
The Conservative Party of Canada has gone by a variety of names over the years since Canadian Confederation. Initially known as the "Liberal-Conservative Party", it dropped "Liberal" from its name in 1873, although many of its candidates continued to use this name.As a result of World War I and the...

, but used the label "Progressive-Conservative
Progressive-Conservative (candidate)
The label Progressive-Conservative was used by some candidates for the Canadian House of Commons in the 1925, 1926, 1930 and 1935 federal elections...

" in Souris
Souris (electoral district)
Souris was a federal electoral district in the province of Manitoba, Canada, that was represented in the Canadian House of Commons from 1904 to 1953.This riding was created in 1903 from parts of Brandon and Lisgar ridings....

 in the election of 1926
Canadian federal election, 1926
The Canadian federal election of 1926 was held on September 14 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 16th Parliament of Canada. The election was called following an event known as the King-Byng Affair...

, and was defeated by a straight Progressive
Progressive Party of Canada
The Progressive Party of Canada was a political party in Canada in the 1920s and 1930s. It was linked with the provincial United Farmers parties in several provinces and, in Manitoba, ran candidates and formed governments as the Progressive Party of Manitoba...

 candidate. He won the riding in the 1930 election
Canadian federal election, 1930
The Canadian federal election of 1930 was held on July 28, 1930 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 17th Parliament of Canada...

, again having contested it as a "Progressive-Conservative" and served for five years as a backbench supporter of R.B. Bennett's Conservative government. In 1932, outside of politics, Willis was a member of the Canadian curling team that won a gold medal in the curling event at the 1932 Winter Olympics
Curling at the 1932 Winter Olympics
Curling was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Winter Olympics. The venue was the Olympic Indoor Arena in Lake Placid, New York. Eight teams from two countries competed in this event. Only men's curling was contested at these Olympics. The matches were held on February 4th and 5th, 1932...


He was defeated in the 1935 election
Canadian federal election, 1935
The Canadian federal election of 1935 was held on October 14, 1935 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 18th Parliament of Canada. The Liberal Party of William Lyon Mackenzie King won a majority government, defeating Prime Minister R.B. Bennett's Conservative Party.The central...

, losing by three votes to the Liberal candidate.

Willis was acclaimed as leader of the provincial Conservative Party on June 9, 1936, replacing W. Sanford Evans. He was elected for the riding of Deloraine
Deloraine, Manitoba
Deloraine is a farming town in the Canadian province of Manitoba. It is situated near the Turtle Mountains in the southwestern corner of the province. Located in the Westman Region, the town is 100 kilometres south of Brandon, the region's largest centre...

 in a provincial election held later in the year.

The election of 1936 was very close, with John Bracken
John Bracken
John Bracken, PC was an agronomist, the 11th Premier of Manitoba and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada ....

's Liberal-Progressives winning 23 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba and the lieutenant governor form the Legislature of Manitoba, the legislature of the Canadian province of Manitoba. Fifty-seven members are elected to this assembly in provincial general elections, all in single-member constituencies with first-past-the-post...

 and Willis's Conservatives winning 16. Another 16 seats were won by smaller parties. There were rumours of a Bracken-Willis coalition after the election, but this plan was rejected by the Conservative leader.

After the start of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the idea of an all-party coalition was revived by Bracken's government. The Conservatives, Social Credit
Manitoba Social Credit Party
The Manitoba Social Credit Party was a political party in the Canadian province of Manitoba. In its early years, it espoused the monetary reform theories of social credit....

 and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation joined Bracken's Liberal-Progressives in a "non-partisan government", meant to demonstrate the united resolve of the province. Willis was sworn in as Minister of Public Works on November 4, 1940. When CCF leader Seymour J. Farmer
Seymour J. Farmer
Seymour James Farmer was a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He served as the 30th mayor of Winnipeg from 1923 to 1924, and was later the leader of the Manitoba Co-operative Commonwealth Federation from 1935 to 1947. In the latter capacity, he became the first socialist politician in Canada to...

 resigned in 1942, Willis also became Minister of Labour, holding this position until 1944.

The coalition was generally advantageous to the Conservative Party, which was renamed the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party in the mid-1940s. Its ministers were allowed a fair degree of autonomy, and were fully integrated into the province's governing structure, unlike the CCF and Social Credit ministers, who were marginalized. The party maintained an identity separate from the Liberal-Progressives throughout this period. In a 1946 manifesto, its members pledged to support an increase in old-age pension
In general, a pension is an arrangement to provide people with an income when they are no longer earning a regular income from employment. Pensions should not be confused with severance pay; the former is paid in regular installments, while the latter is paid in one lump sum.The terms retirement...

s, a decrease in tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

 rates, and further transportation openings to the province's north. Willis, supported by the Liberal-Progressives, was re-elected by acclamation in 1941, 1945 and 1949.

There were some Progressive Conservatives who opposed the coalition, particularly after Liberal-Progressive Member of the Legislative Assembly
Member of the Legislative Assembly
A Member of the Legislative Assembly or a Member of the Legislature , is a representative elected by the voters of a constituency to the legislature or legislative assembly of a sub-national jurisdiction....

 (MLA) Douglas Campbell
Douglas Lloyd Campbell
Douglas Lloyd Campbell, OC was a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He served as the 13th Premier of Manitoba from 1948 to 1958...

 became the province's premier in 1948. The Conservatives had nominated Willis to be premier, but Campbell defeated him in a vote among coalition MLAs. Campbell's philosophy of "minimal government" was rejected by the more progressive figures in the PC ranks, the most vocal of whom was Dufferin Roblin
Dufferin Roblin
Dufferin "Duff" Roblin, PC, CC, OM was a Canadian businessman and politician. Known as "Duff," he served as the 14th Premier of Manitoba from 1958 to 1967. Roblin was appointed to the Canadian Senate on the advice of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. In the government of Brian Mulroney, he served as...

 (grandson of former Premier Sir Rodmond P. Roblin). In 1949, Roblin was elected to the legislature for Winnipeg South
Winnipeg South
Winnipeg South is a Canadian federal electoral district in Manitoba, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons from 1917 to 1979, and since 1988. It covers the south of the city of Winnipeg...

 as an anti-coalition Progressive Conservative.

Under pressure from his party and disturbed by the Campbell government's inaction on various issues, Willis resigned from cabinet on August 19, 1950. At a party convention in October, the Progressive Conservatives voted 215 to 17 to leave the coalition. Willis, who also fended off a leadership challenge from George Hastings at the convention, once again became leader of the opposition.

Willis was re-elected for Turtle Mountain
Turtle Mountain (electoral district)
Turtle Mountain is a provincial electoral division in the Canadian province of Manitoba. It was created with the westward expansion of the province's borders in 1881, eliminated by redistribution in 1968, and re-established in 1979, formally returned to the electoral map with the provincial...

 in the provincial election of 1953, but the provincial Progressive Conservative organization was weak, and Campbell's Liberal-Progressives won a decisive majority. MLA J. Arthur Ross
J. Arthur Ross
James Arthur Ross was a Manitoba politician. He served in the Canadian House of Commons for thirteen years, and was a candidate for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba in 1953....

 forced a leadership convention in 1954; at this convention, Roblin defeated Willis to become party leader.

Willis continued as a member of the legislature after this loss. He was re-elected in 1958, and served in Roblin's minority government as Minister of Public Works, Minister of Agriculture and Deputy Premier. Re-elected again in 1959, he continued to serve in cabinet until January 15, 1960, when he was appointed as the province's lieutenant governor. He remained in this position until August 31, 1965.

Willis died on January 9, 1967.
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