Métis premier Bob McLeod of NWT looks back on 8 years in office

Bob McLeod has a few remaining weeks governing the Northwest Territories.

The Métis man from Zhahti Koe, Fort Providence was the first person to be re-elected premier of the N.W.T.

But now he’s decided to retire.

“I felt that I didn’t want to be committed for another four years and I didn’t really want to be in politics when I’m 70 years old,” McLeod said.

He noted his leadership style as inclusive and cited his success on “letting the managers manage” in office.

“Our first get together our cabinet said is that one of the things we should all aspire to is not to lose any ministers. I’m really proud that we had eight years of good government and didn’t lose a single minister.

“We didn’t lose any motions on non confidence,” he said.

During his time as premier there were several significant infrastructure projects including the $350-million hospital in Yellowknife, the $300-million Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway and the $202-million Deh Cho Bridge, the last major river to be bridged.

McLeod said there are still some pages left unturned as he gets ready to call it quits.

“The one that everyone always talks about of course is land claims and self government. We made some progress not as much progress as we wanted to but some of the claims have been negotiated going on thirty years.

“It’s disappointing to me that I’ll have to join the list of Premiers that weren’t able to,” Mcleod said.

Unlike its neighbours Nunavut and the Yukon, the N.W.T. never fully recovered from the 2008 recession.

“It’s worrisome especially because exploration is down. Even with that we have mining projects, Mackenzie valley natural gas pipeline was approved and yet it never got built,” he said.

In 2017, the Premier made headlines as he issued his “red alert.” He suggested Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had acted out of colonialism after a moratorium on Arctic oil and gas development was announced in 2016.

“Over a period of time we hadn’t produced a single molecule of oil and gas in a territory that historically has been producing oil and gas since the 1930s.

“We had an immediate response from the federal government the next morning and I think our relationship has improved significantly,” McLeod said.

The 19th Legislative Assembly will be elected on Oct. 1, 2019.

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