Mission accomplished? N.W.T. premier says 'red alert' on Northern economy got results

In an op-ed in the Hill Times earlier this week, Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod says his "red alert" statement released last year was a success.

A year ago, Premier Bob McLeod penned news release calling for urgent national debate on future of the North

N.W.T. Premier Bob McLeod says he's encouraged by developments in the relationship between the federal government and the Northwest Territories. (Bill Braden/Canadian Press)

Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod says last year's "red alert" statement against what he called a "re-emergence of colonialism" from Ottawa in the North has been successful.

Last November, McLeod criticized the federal government for what he said was a unilateral decision to put a five-year moratorium on oil and gas development in the Beaufort Sea. It took the form of a letter he called a "red alert."  

In it, he wrote that "the dreams of Northerners are dying" and called for an urgent national debate on the future of the Northwest Territories. 

Wednesday, the Hill Times published a piece by McLeod where he wrote he's encouraged by developments in the relationship between Ottawa and the territorial government since then. 

"A year on, I am pleased to say that Canada has responded positively to my call for attention to the North."​

A recent federal announcement that the territory and the Inuvialuit would partner on a review of the Beaufort drilling, was the most welcome change, he said. 

The Hill Times is an Ottawa-based newspaper focused on federal politics and many of its readers are connected with Parliament Hill. 

Watch McLeod discuss his 'red alert' with Power and Politics last year 

N.W.T.Bob McLeod speaks to Power and Politics about 'red alert'

4 years ago
It's offensive and patronizing for southern Canadians to tell northerners they can't benefit from oil and gas development because it's time to save the planet, Bob McLeod tells CBC's Power and Politics. 5:54

"It's something we should have been doing three years ago," McLeod told CBC News Thursday.

"I took a tough stand a year ago and things have improved significantly," he said. "I thought it was only fair to put it out there. I think we're working very good with the federal government at this point."

McLeod also applauded the government for appointing Dominic LeBlanc as minister of intergovernmental affairs, northern affairs, and internal trade calling it an "excellent first step."

"The first day he was appointed ... the next day he was meeting with us," McLeod said. 

McLeod also applauded the government for appointing Dominic Leblanc as minister of intergovernmental affairs, northern affairs, and internal trade calling it an “excellent first step.” (CBC)

But despite his praise, McLeod reminded Ottawa that there's more work to be done.

He called for a financial boost in support of development in the Slave Geological Province and more financial backing for the expansion of the Taltson hydroelectric facility.


Hilary Bird


Hilary Bird is a reporter with CBC North in Yellowknife. She has been reporting on Indigenous issues and politics for almost a decade and has won several national and international awards for her work. Hilary can be reached at


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?