Members of the Liberal Party of Canada Northwest Territories cast their ballots last week, voting in former Dehcho MLA Michael McLeod as their nominee for MP.
The party announced that McLeod beat fellow candidate Gail Cyr on the evening of Aug. 8. According to a statement released by the party, about 58 per cent of “a membership hundreds strong” turned out for the contest, 71 per cent of which were in favour of McLeod.
“I was very pleased and I was truly humbled and honoured about the election results. I’m very thankful,” he said. “Gail ran a very good campaign, she worked hard and she put a lot of effort into it.”
McLeod noted that Cyr was “knowledgeable about many issues facing Northerners and I know that we will be working together to take action on these issues.”
On the campaign trail
McLeod, who is also the brother of NWT Premier Bob McLeod, said he is ready to hit the ground running on the campaign trail. In addition to touring the communities of the NWT, he will be fundraising for the election and meeting with his fellow Grits in the capital until the federal election, set to take place on Oct. 19.
“I have raised already to the Liberal party many issues that I think are priority,” he said. “I want to take the time now that I’m the official candidate to sit down with the party members in the Northwest Territories and the party members in Ottawa – the federal party – and talk about how the issues challenging us in the territories can be intertwined with the Liberal platform. I have a commitment from our previous discussions that we would take the time to do that and that’s one of the first steps I’m going to be making as the new candidate.”
Improving the territory’s economy was identified as a priority issue. Specifically, he said he wants to work toward cutting the high cost of living, providing more affordable housing and delivering sustainable development and energy initiatives.
Mcleod said he would also push for the settlement of land and water use agreements, as well as land claim issues, to allow for the responsible development of resources and a potential influx of investment into the territory.
“We need to ensure that our regulatory process works well; we need to give comfort to companies and corporations that want to invest in the North that it’s a good place to do business,” he said. “We need to ensure that we have our Aboriginal governments well-informed and working as partners with us. On that front, I think working and putting more focus on settling some of the outstanding land claims would be very beneficial.”
Health and social justice issues, including the provision of more youth programs and assistance to the homeless and those suffering with substance abuse, were also high on McLeod’s list.
“I will run an open and transparent campaign that stays focused on issues that matter to the people of the Northwest Territories,” he said. “I pride myself as being a consensus builder and truly believe that the only way forward is to work together towards our common goal of making Canada and the North a better place to live, work, and invest.”
Experience key to campaign
During his two terms in territorial cabinet, McLeod managed the Transportation, Public Works, Environment and Municipal and Community Affairs portfolios.
He also held positions as a founding member of the Fort Providence Resource Management Board and the Dehcho Regional Council, former vice president of the Northwest Territories Métis Development Corporation and president of the Métis Nation Local #57.
McLeod left public office in 2011 and has since worked as a tourism development officer with the territorial government out of his home in Fort Providence.
The Liberal candidate will be up against incumbent NDP MP Dennis Bevington, Conservative candidate Floyd Roland and Libertarian Bob Stewart. As of publication date, the Green Party had yet to nominate a candidate.
“I think the Liberal party’s platform will suit the Northwest Territories better,” McLeod said. “I have a history of being able to bring people together. I have a proven track-record and I think those are going to work in my favour.”