A former Innu leader who once held demonstrations against low-level flying over Labrador is presenting a different view as a Tory candidate in the federal election.

Peter Penashue kicked off his campaign Wednesday in admittedly humble circumstances, with media outnumbering supporters at his campaign office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

"We've got to start small. There are only 18 Conservative members in Labrador," said Penashue, who will try to unseat incumbent Todd Russell in what is considered one of the safest Liberal seats in the country.

"Todd and the other team are doing well. They've got infrastructure well in place and so we want to build up gradually and we've got 30 days to do it," Penashue said.

A veteran leader and negotiator for the Innu Nation, Penashue's early involvement in politics was as an advocate, including taking a leading role in protests against low-level flying in the 1980s.

Penashue said his views on the military presence in Labrador have changed.

"I'm completely in favour of 5 Wing Goose Bay and I'm completely in favour of expanding the military activities in Labrador," he said.

Penashue has also changed his views on NunatuKavut, formerly known as the Labrador Métis Nation. While he still opposes their land claim, he has softened his stand.

"What I can offer the Métis is a roundtable, a table at which the leadership of the Métis nation and the government will sit down and discuss," he said.

Penashue supports the proposed Lower Churchill hydroelectric development at Muskrat Falls, which Russell has cited as a project that delivers little for his constituents.