Northern Canada: Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod not seeking re-election

Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod arrives to take part in a meeting of First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Premier Bob McLeod has confirmed that he will not be standing for election to the 19th Legislature of the Northwest Territories, in Northern Canada.

“I will not be running in this election, thanks,” he wrote in an email to CBC Friday morning.

Bob McLeod was first elected to the N.W.T. legislature in 2007 and has served as MLA for Yellowknife South for three terms.

In his first term, he was appointed to cabinet and served as minister of Human Resources, Industry Tourism and Investment, the Public Utilities Board and Energy Initiatives during the 16th Assembly.

McLeod ran unopposed in the 2011 N.W.T. election, and then defeated two other challengers to become premier. In 2015, he was re-elected as MLA, defeating challengers Nigit’sil Norbert and Samuel Roland in Yellowknife South, and was ultimately re-elected as premier by regular MLAs, becoming the first two-term premier of the territory since 1902.

At the moment, he is the longest-serving premier in Canada, a atitle he assumed after Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall stepped down in February 2018.

As premier of the Northwest Territories, McLeod advocated strongly for decisions about the North to be made in the North.

He oversaw the devolution of lands and resources in 2014, the final major step in the territory’s devolution process. Under the agreement, the territory has taken on stewardship of public land and resources, and will keep 50 per cent of resource revenue, up to an annual limit of about $60 million.

While the Devolution Agreement was signed in the 17th Assembly, much of the work to create made-in-the-North legislation to oversee management of lands and resources fell to the 18th Assembly.

This included the passing of the Northwest Territories Mineral Resources Act, the Petroleum Resources Act, the Oil and Gas Operations Act, the Protected Areas Act, an updated Environmental Rights Act, and a new Public Lands Act.

Work on the territory’s own Water Act and Forest Act will continue into the 19th Assembly.

Premier McLeod made national headlines in 2017 when he travelled to Ottawa to issue a “red alert” calling federal moratoriums on oil and gas development in the North a “re-emergence of colonialism” and railing against the unfairness of the territory finally being in control of its own resources at a time when oil and gas extraction was falling out of fashion and replaced by environmental protection.

McLeod has also been a staunch supporter of improving female representation in government, serving as Minister Responsible for Women in both the 17th and 18th Assemblies. Despite this, the N.W.T. legislature currently has the smallest percentage of women MLAs of any legislature in the country.

On Friday, a spokesperson for McLeod said the premier was not immediately available for comment.

Friday marks the last day that candidates may file with the N.W.T.’s chief electoral officer to run in the upcoming territorial election. Voting will take place Oct. 1.

Note: This story has been updated with highlights on McLeod’s two-term premiership.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian eastern Arctic: Iqaluit mayor won’t seek re-election, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s new gov breezes through no-confidence vote over its agenda, Yle News

Sweden: Swedish Centre Party promises tax break for rural northerners, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska governor accepts reduced dividends, upholds most vetoes, Alaska Public Media

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