Michael McLeod joined a nationwide Liberal Party landslide as he won the Northwest Territories in Monday’s federal election, unseating Dennis Bevington.
McLeod and the Liberals had 9,166 votes with 91 of 93 polls reporting early on Tuesday morning. Bevington and the NDP were second with 5,845 votes.
Floyd Roland, representing the Conservatives, had 3,415 votes. Remaining candidate John Moore, standing for the Green Party, stood at 535 votes.
“It’s been a really exciting night and I’m very happy with the results we’re seeing,” McLeod told Moose FM as he prepared to deliver his victory speech.
“The platform has responded well to what the people have seen as needs across Canada. We expected to do well. All the polls had indicated that.
“In the North, in terms of what we heard while door-knocking, all the response was positive. We’re very happy to see this but we’re not totally surprised.”
McLeod, 56, is the brother of Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod. A former territorial MLA himself, McLeod was also once the mayor of Fort Providence.
McLeod campaigned on a platform of increasing the Northern Residents Deduction.
“We need to have a new focus from Ottawa on the Northwest Territories. We have to have an agenda that all people share,” he told Moose FM prior to election day.
“We need to put investment into the NWT that will help us deal with the recession, we need to deal with social issues, and we need to deal with infrastructure investment that will help stimulate the economy.”
With his victory, the NWT returns to Liberal control for the first time in almost a decade.
Liberal MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew had represented the territory in Ottawa from 1988 to 2006, before Bevington ousted her at his third attempt. He subsequently twice won re-election, in 2008 and 2011.
In the last federal election, held in 2011, the riding – then named Western Arctic – was won by Bevington with 7,140 votes, representing almost 46 percent of votes cast. The Conservatives, represented by Sandy Lee, were second with 5,001 votes (32 percent). Voter turnout was 55 percent.
Investment in communities
Prior to Monday’s election, McLeod had sought to distinguish himself from Bevington’s New Democrats.
“Our plan is quite different,” McLeod had said.
“Our plan is to create jobs. We want to do that by investing in infrastructure, putting money into the pockets of Northern residents by cutting taxes – the NDP are not doing any of those things. We also want to invest in communities, in social infrastructure such as affordable housing and seniors’ housing.”
During his campaign, McLeod more than once made promises on which the Liberals would later backtrack.
For example, he pledged a 50 percent increase in some elements of the Northern Residents Deduction, only to amend that to 33 percent under questioning. He also suggested the Liberals would give the City of Yellowknife $20 million for a new water pipe, before similarly diluting that promise.
Bevington, who considered retiring from politics before deciding to campaign for re-election, had urged voters to focus on his experience in Ottawa.
However, it was the victorious McLeod who took up that theme as he championed the NWT’s new voice in federal government.
“It’s important that we’re able to have a voice in the government, a voice that’s going to be heard,” McLeod told us.
“This way, we can be part of the planning, part of the decision-making. That’s going to help us a lot in the Northwest Territories.”