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Michael McLeod wants to be next NWT MP, chases cabinet position

Michael McLeod, brother of NWT Premier Bob McLeod, confirmed today he is seeking the federal Liberal nomination in the Northwest Territories.

The former Deh Cho MLA, 55, joins Gail Cyr and Kieron Testart in the race to secure the Liberal nomination for this fall’s federal election.

Floyd Roland is standing as the Conservative candidate; incumbent MP Dennis Bevington is set to stand again for the New Democrats.

Speaking to Moose FM as he announced his campaign on Tuesday, McLeod said he planned to play a leading role in a Liberal government helmed by Justin Trudeau.

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McLeod said he had spoken to Trudeau about being “more than just somebody sitting on the back bench”.

He told us: “I want to be involved. I want to be considered for a cabinet position. I’m looking to be a player, with serious involvement in the party, if I’m elected.”

McLeod did not specify which cabinet position he would seek, though he said his conversation with Trudeau had centred on “making sure he had a focus on the North and an agenda for Aboriginal people”.

The latest national polls suggest the Liberals (with 26 percent of the vote) trail the NDP (32 percent) and Conservatives (29 percent).

‘No question marks’

In keeping with others running for election, McLeod – who served as Deh Cho MLA from 1999 to 2011, before being unseated by Michael Nadli – identified the cost of living, energy and education as priorities.

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“The North needs to have a healthy economy so that people come here to live and invest,” he told Moose FM. “We can help make sure land claims are sorted out and settled – land use plans are all dealt with – so there are no question marks for people wanting to come here for business purposes.

“We can also look at infrastructure: we need highways, longer airports, things of that nature. We need to also look at energy solutions.”

McLeod, based in Fort Providence, said the subject of hydraulic fracturing must be “dealt with nationally”.

“The Liberal Party has committed to looking at fracking and making rules and regulations around it, and I think that’s the way to go,” he said. “There are some serious issues around fracking. There are benefits around fracking, but at the same time there is a lot of concern.”

Earlier this month, Conservative candidate Roland told us he did not believe fracking was ‘needed’ in the NWT.

McLeod avoided discussing the record of sitting MP Bevington, but said distinguishing himself from fellow Liberal contenders Cyr and Testart would be “relatively easy”.

“I have a lot of experience in the private sector, with the government, with Aboriginal governments and organizations – I’ve been a cabinet minister and an MLA, I have good contacts and lines of communication,” he said.

“Those will all be in my favour.”

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