N.W.T.'s Liberal MP to seek re-election, no other candidates have officially announced yet

Michael McLeod's campaign team confirmed that the MP from Fort Providence will run for a third term. He's the only candidate to officially announce a bid in N.W.T. so far.

Michael McLeod's campaign team said the MP from Fort Providence will run for a 3rd term

Liberal incumbent Michael McLeod will seek re-election in the upcoming federal election, expected to be called for Sept. 20. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

Incumbent Liberal MP Michael McLeod will seek re-election in the upcoming federal election. So far, the Liberals are the only party to have officially announced a candidate in the N.W.T. 

The election is expected to be called for Sept. 20. A spokesperson for McLeod's campaign team confirmed to CBC by email on Thursday that the MP is looking to hold onto N.W.T.'s only seat in the House of Commons.

The Conservative Party of Canada, the NDP, the Green Party of Canada and the People's Party of Canada all ran N.W.T. candidates in the last federal election. 

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The spokesperson said McLeod has been the confirmed candidate since December 2020, but declined CBC's request for an interview, saying McLeod would speak after the writ period has begun. 

If elected, McLeod will serve a third term as N.W.T.'s MP.

From Fort Providence, McLeod has a long history in politics. He was elected the mayor of Fort Providence at 22 years old, and served three terms as a member of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly. 

McLeod's brother Bob was previously a Northwest Territories premier.  

Gov't should pay for ground-penetrating radar, says McLeod

After preliminary ground scans revealed what are believed to be 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school site in Kamloops, McLeod said in the House in June that the federal government should pay the bill for communities that use ground-penetrating radar to detect unmarked graves.  

"When we did the ground penetrating radar exercises to check all the grave sites around our community, the government paid for it," he said.

"In the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] recommendations, it is very clear that all the sites need to be checked, and that should be at the expense of the government. The government … put us in this position along with the churches, and it has [the] responsibility to work through the recommendations."

McLeod, who went to Akaitcho Hall, a residential school in Yellowknife that closed in 1994, told CBC he believes he's the only sitting MP who attended residential school. 

MP previously expressed interest in cabinet post

McLeod has been a party back-bencher since he was first elected in 2015, and has expressed interest in a cabinet post in the past.

In 2019, he said if offered Indigenous-Crown Relations or Northern Affairs (separate portfolios at the time), he'd "probably gladly take it."

More recently, in March, McLeod voted against an NDP motion to create a pharmacare program, which had the support of N.W.T.'s premier and cabinet. 

First major campaign in N.W.T. since start of pandemic

Sources told CBC News that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is planning to announce a 36-day campaign on Sunday. Meanwhile, none of the other major parties have officially named a nominee in the N.W.T. 

"Our goal is to have candidates everywhere, but obviously time is running out and we haven't found anyone yet," said People's Party spokesperson Martin Masse.

He said the party hopes an N.W.T. resident will step up in the next week or so. 

The president of the Northwest Territories NDP electoral district association said they've completed their search for a candidate and are waiting for approval from the national director before they make an announcement.

Shane Pike said they anticipate making an announcement before Sunday, when issuing of the writs is expected.

In an emailed statement, Premier Caroline Cochrane said the territorial government "recognizes the importance of partnerships with other governments, including our colleagues at the federal level.

"We look forward to working collaboratively on the issues that are important to N.W.T. residents and to Indigenous and community governments in the territory, with whichever government is in power after the next federal election."

This will be the first major election held in the territory since the start of the pandemic. Elections Canada says it's taking precautions to protect voters, election workers and candidates, and their staff.

These measures include increasing "capacity and convenience" of the mail-in ballot system, and providing envelopes with prepaid postage for electors who vote by mail.