Michael McLeod, incumbent candidate for the Northwest Territories federal riding was off to the races last week as signs began to emerge in Hay River.
Due to the sudden COVID-19 outbreak in the territory last week, McLeod announced over the weekend that he is pulling back from scheduled campaign events until further notice.
“In the interest of keeping constituents and volunteers safe and out of an abundance of caution, our campaign will be holding off on any in-person events or door-knocking until the situation improves,” he posted online Aug. 21.
“We will still be actively engaging with NWTers by phone and through social media, and look forward to resuming normal campaign activity when it is safe to do so.”
In an interview on Monday, he said that the notice was put up because there is so much uncertainty around meeting directly with people as he initially had hoped.
“Looking at our strategy and where our focus will be and how we will plan because the outbreak has forced us to look at our schedule and we will kind of adjust as time goes on,” he explained.
He said his campaign will be focused on promoting his message through other media sources.
“This campaign will be focused on doing a variety of things,” he said. “Online events is something we will do. We will engage where we can over the phone and we also have a good advertisement budget. We planned to travel into the communities but we are waiting to see where issues are with Covid. Covid is a concern in the community I live in, Fort Providence, so our planning right now is tentative.”
McLeod said the list of issues that Northerners expect to be addressed, including in Hay River and the South Slave, are nearly limitless. Climate change is a key priority.
“The (South Slave) region has a lot of issues that are we similarly hearing across the North,” he said. “Housing continues to be a challenge including in the community of Hay River and others.
“I think the most important thing in this last government that was elected in 2019 was our being able to hold the line on Covid and keeping the economy from crashing and keeping people safe with a vaccine.”
He also pointed to the federal government’s investments in housing, especially for all Indigenous government in the NWT.
Running for office again shouldn’t seem as out of the ordinary, even though other candidates in the North having come and gone since he was first elected in 2015, he said.
His Yukon MP colleague Larry Bagnell announced earlier in August that he wouldn’t be running again. Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq announced she would not be seeking reelection back in June.
“I think for me this is a perfect job,” he said. “I like working with people and talking and communicating. I like being involved in solving some of the challenges that governments or Indigenous people are facing. I think I’m well suited for it. I feel comfortable and happy when everyone does well and when issues are dealt with properly.”
McLeod said Hay River and South Slave residents can continue to follow his social media posts and web page for updates as they come to the campaign.