Michael McLeod, the incumbent Liberal MP for the Northwest Territories, stopped in Hay River on Oct. 1 while campaigning for the federal election later this month.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Liberal MP Michael McLeod says he is working hard to make the case to be re-elected in the upcoming federal election.

“I don’t take anything for granted,” he said, adding he has not taken a day off since the writ was dropped to launch the election campaign.

As for whether he expects a close race, McLeod said, “I run every campaign as if I’m trying to catch up.”

The MP was in Hay River on Oct. 1 for the second time since he began campaigning, and was planning to return again later last week.

“I think we’ve got good support here,” he said. “We’ve worked hard to be involved with what Hay River has been working on. We’ve met with the municipality on many occasions. We meet with the Indigenous governments here.”

McLeod noted that he grew up in Fort Providence, next door to Hay River.

“So I know just about everybody here,” he said. “When there’s something not going well, it doesn’t take long before I hear about it.”

McLeod said one of the main issues he has been hearing about while campaigning has been housing, along with economic growth, infrastructure needs, and concern about the environment.

“We also are hearing, I think more this time than last time, that people are insisting that negotiations with Indigenous governments start to see some progress, and that was something that we tried to focus on in this past four years,” he said. “It’s going to require a change in policy and that’s what needs to happen.”

Specifically for Hay River, he pointed to such things as federal support for a planned fish plant, the creation of the Marine Training Centre, and completing the chipsealing of Highway 5 to Fort Smith.

As for why people should vote for him, McLeod said, “I think people should vote for me because I’m a hard worker and I know the issues, and I know Hay River very well. And I think they should vote for the party because the party has a platform that is friendly to the North. The investment in the last four years is historic. We’ve never seen that from any other government before, and we plan to continue.”

The candidate explained he can get things done as a member of government, assuming the Liberals win the election.

“The prime minister walks by my desk in the House of Commons every day, twice a day, three times a day,” he said. “I can step over and talk to a minister. I can walk into the minister’s office. The investment in the North didn’t just happen by me sitting at my desk. It was because I was from day one knocking on doors and lobbying for investment.”

McLeod has accepted the apology of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the now infamous brownface/blackface incidents from years ago, but he believes it will have some impact on voters in the NWT.

“I’ve heard a couple of jokes, people making fun of it,” the MP said of the scandal. “But as an Indigenous person I’ve had those experiences where people have done things that could be considered racist, but they don’t apologize to me. The prime minister has taken full ownership for this issue. I’m satisfied that he’s sincere.”

As for how much impact it will have, McLeod said, “I’m not sure. I think it’s upset people. Some people feel offended, others not so much. So it’s hard to measure. But I’m not hearing a lot of it.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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