The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada says it is too early to start thinking about who will be his party’s NWT candidate in the next federal election.

Conservative party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer relaxes on a deck overlooking Yellowknife Bay on Sunday. Scheer was in the city for meetings with various stakeholders and a casual meet and greet. He described the trip, his first ever to Yellowknife, as a fact-finding mission. John McFadden/NNSL photo

When the time comes we’ll have a robust search and selection process but at the end of the day it’ll be our grassroots members who have that ultimate decision,” said Andrew Scheer, who was in Yellowknife for the first time in his life this past weekend. “I really want a nomination process that respects our members.”

When he won the leadership race three months ago, Scheer said he did not know a lot about the North but would make it a priority to learn.

Scheer said on Sunday that was part of the reason he was here. He sat down with various people, including industry and social services representatives, for meetings in the morning, then had lunch at the Wildcat Cafe before arriving at a home in Old Town for a meet and greet with declared supporters and others.

I wanted to listen to some of the concerns,” said Scheer. “I’m still in the listening phase. I wanted to come to the North and hear from people directly.”

He said he learned infrastructure is an ongoing concern in the North, adding the word often means different things in the south than it does in the NWT.

It might mean water treatment … or better transit,” he said. “But here, the link between roads and prosperity is so direct. Being able to hear from people who say – we could employ X number of more people if we could get at these sites – but we can’t, so we don’t. Those are missed opportunities.”

Among those in attendance at the event was the last Conservative MP for the NWT. Dave Nickerson was elected to the House of Commons in 1979 and served three terms before he was defeated by Liberal Ethel Blondin-Andrew in 1988.

Nickerson said he believes the 38-year-old Scheer is taking the part in the right direction.

I have a lot of confidence in him,” said Nickerson. “I think he’ll do a very good job and I won’t be surprised to see him as the Prime Minister of Canada one day.” said.

Other guests at the meet and greet included territorial Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann, Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green and city councillors Adrian Bell and Linda Bussey.

The meet and greet was hosted by David Connelly, a Conservative Party national vice-president and the NWT’s representative on the party’s national council.