Deputy premier Robert C McLeod will not stand for re-election this fall, ending his career in territorial politics after 15 years.
The Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA, who is 59, was first elected by a margin of just 11 votes in a 2004 by-election following the resignation of Roger Allen.
“I’ve come to realize I’ve got more years behind me than ahead of me, and it’s very important where I spend those years ahead of me,” McLeod told the legislature on Wednesday.
“The folks of Inuvik Twin Lakes have been fantastic supporters, and I appreciate that. I hope I’ve represented them and this institution well.
“This institution is extremely important to me and the work we do is important to me. I will do my darnedest to encourage those out there who would like to run – come in here with a good attitude, try to make things good for the people of the Northwest Territories.
“We go about it in different ways, sure, but at the end of the day that’s our common denominator.”
During McLeod’s first address to the legislature, in February 2005, he had referred to becoming MLA as “another one of my brilliant ideas.”
Fourteen years later, momentarily losing his composure as he announced he would step away, McLeod murmured: “Rats. I said I wasn’t going to do that.”
“I normally try to say something amusing when I’m stuck,” he continued, “but there’s nothing amusing about this.”
Later, to laughter from colleagues, he turned to discussing the time ahead of him by saying: “Much as I like you guys – some of you – I don’t want to spend it with you.
“I don’t know what’s behind the door, but I’ll have six grandchildren in tow and I’m excited,” he added.
“Inuvik deserves new energy.”
Speaker Jackson Lafferty, in response, said McLeod had “contributed a lot to the NWT and to this house as well. Mahsi for all your contributions over the years.”
A minister for more than a decade, McLeod’s portfolios have at one time or another included municipal and community affairs, the WSCC, the housing corporation, youth, lands, infrastructure, environmental and natural resources, human resources, the power corporation, and finance.
He is the first member of cabinet to announce they will not run in this fall’s territorial election.
Glen Abernethy and Wally Schumann have both confirmed they intend to seek re-election. Premier Bob McLeod, who has already made history by serving two terms as the NWT’s leader, has not clarified whether he will run again.