Newly re-elected to a second term as the NWT's MP, Michael McLeod told Cabin Radio he will seek a post in Justin Trudeau's next cabinet.
McLeod has voiced that ambition ever since his first federal election campaign in 2015, but was overlooked for the past four years. He restated his desire for a cabinet post in the build-up to this year's election, and returned to the topic as he emerged victorious on Monday.
"I'm hoping the prime minister will look my way," McLeod said immediately after broadcasters began projecting his victory.
"I've indicated, loud and clear, that I'm available."
McLeod's chances of securing a cabinet berth may be improved by the Liberals' otherwise unremarkable showing west of Ontario.
McLeod and Yukon neighbour Larry Bagnell – narrowly re-elected on Monday – are joined by just a handful of Liberal MPs voted into office from western Canada. Not a single Liberal was elected in either Alberta or Saskatchewan. As of midnight, 11 Liberals were leading in British Columbia and four in Manitoba.
Meanwhile, McLeod is one of six Indigenous Liberal candidates to be successful on Monday, joining Vance Badawey, Jaime Battiste, Yvonne Jones, Marc Serré, and Dan Vandal.
While Dominic LeBlanc, the most recent permanent northern affairs minister, has received rave reviews from McLeod's brother – outgoing Premier of the NWT Bob McLeod – the federal government has a woeful track record of appointing northerners to the role, and could look to McLeod to correct that.
Of the 28 federal ministers to have held a portfolio with the word "northern" in it since 1953, not one was either born in the North or represented a northern riding.
However, McLeod's chances could be hurt if Trudeau – heading up a minority government – decides to trade some cabinet posts in return for the support of a party such as the NDP, which is not without precedent.
McLeod won re-election with a 40-percent share of the vote on Monday, outstripping Conservative Yanik D'Aigle by 14 percent. Though the result trimmed back his 48-percent share from 2015, McLeod considered it proof residents had approved of his actions as a first-term MP.
"We've seen really good investment and made a lot of progress on many fronts, especially with some of the Indigenous governments and the municipalities," McLeod told supporters in a victory speech at Yellowknife's Chateau Nova Hotel.
Bob McLeod watched his brother's victory speech. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio
"We've put the North back on the radar, I believe.
"It's one of the first times that I've seen so much cooperation between the federal government, the Government of the Northwest Territories, Indigenous governments, and municipal governments.
"The trick is to keep everybody happy, and that's not always the easiest thing when your brother's the premier," he joked.
In his speech, McLeod said the cost of living, clean power, improving northerners' quality of life, and "ensuring our youth have a bright future ahead of them" would be his priorities for the next four years.
Emelie Peacock contributed reporting.