The Liberal Party’s Michael McLeod is to remain the MP for the Northwest Territories, easing to victory in Monday’s federal election – in line with many predictions.
McLeod took 40 percent of the NWT vote, while Conservative Yanik D’Aigle had 26 percent of the vote and New Democrat Mary Beckett 22 percent.
D’Aigle and Beckett both conceded defeat in interviews with Cabin Radio shortly after 10pm on Monday.
Green candidate Paul Falvo placed fourth with nearly 11 percent of the vote – a record high for the Greens in the NWT – leaving the People’s Party’s Luke Quinlan fifth, with under two percent of votes cast.
“People were happy with my performance, my dedication to the job, and investments the government has been making – getting the North on the map,” McLeod told Cabin Radio, thanking residents and supporters for their help.
“I’ve always indicated that I’m ready, willing, and able to take a position on cabinet,” McLeod added when asked about his political future.
Beckett said she had always faced an uphill battle in unseating an incumbent, adding: “Sometimes it’s difficult, when there are two elections going on at the same time, to get heard.” A territorial election took place earlier in the month.
“Possibly, my face and my name just didn’t get out there enough,” she said.
Since 1988, the NWT has now reliably voted Liberal for all but a nine-year spell under New Democrat Dennis Bevington, from 2006 to 2015.
The Conservatives, convinced this election marked an opportunity to exploit the territory’s fragile economic prospects, are left to consider what it will take to break through with NWT voters.
Yanik D’Aigle, right, with Mayor of Yellowknife Rebecca Alty at his Conservative watch party. Andrew Goodwin/Cabin Radio
“We haven’t had representation here for 30 years. Trying to bring that voice back, to show what we can actually deliver – there’s not a lot of history to go by,” D’Aigle told Cabin Radio. “Even while Dennis Bevington was in power for 10 years, most of the things that happened in the North were done by a Conservative government.
“The question is,” said D’Aigle, “how do we make sure that message translates? One of the key things we need to do differently is make sure we vocalize and itemize, much sooner, in our national platform, the things that we do for the North. That sense of urgency and opportunity is not translating.”
Though there are no accurate polls of NWT residents in the lead-up to federal elections, veteran politicians in the territory had long suggested McLeod was in no significant danger, even as Justin Trudeau’s wider Liberal campaign appeared to falter.
That being said, McLeod’s share of the vote dropped compared to his 2015 victory. In 2015, McLeod took 48 percent of the vote to Bevington’s 30 percent.
‘We’ll see who we can work with’
Across Canada, the Liberals were expected to form a minority government.
McLeod said the party had estimated a return of 158 to 160 seats, adding those estimates were “not far off” the actual total.
“We’ll see who we can work with to maybe form a coalition, if that’s the desire,” he said. “I’m satisfied that I’ve worked very hard. I think I hit a total of 24 communities in my travels. I’m satisfied that we did the best we could.”
Asked where voters demanded his focus be for the next four years, McLeod replied: “Housing was pretty consistent, but if you went farther north then climate change got louder, and the economy was also something that people wanted us to work on.
“In the central NWT, infrastructure was a big issue, and in the southern part of the NWT, land claims and self-governance.”
Green candidate Paul Falvo checks election results. Alice Twa/Cabin Radio
Falvo, the Green candidate, said he was “the happiest guy in the world right now, because I’m taking Wednesday off” after two months of campaigning.
Falvo paid tribute to Green candidate Jenica Atwin’s win in Fredericton, saying: “We are showing the Greens are a party that gets seats now.”
Michael McLeod with outgoing NWT Premier Bob McLeod at his election night watch party. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio
NDP candidate Mary Beckett, centre, watches results come in at Yellowknife’s Elks Lodge. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Andrew Goodwin, Emelie Peacock, Sarah Pruys, and Alice Twa contributed reporting.