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McLeod says members threatened

Deh Cho MLA questions tactics of premier's office

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 02/01) - Some MLAs received threats prior to a leadership confidence vote Monday, placing them under duress, according to Deh Cho MLA Michael McLeod.

"Some of the letters that came in had very threatening overtones, 'Vote in favour (of Premier Stephen Kakfwi) or else resign,' -- all kinds of very strongly-worded letters that really had no business being tabled in the House," he said Tuesday.

McLeod, who advocated a secret ballot process, abstained from Monday's vote, as did fellow MLAs Paul Delorey, Brendan Bell and Steve Nitah. Only Boot Lake MLA Floyd Roland voted against Kakfwi.

McLeod said he feels most MLAs really do support the premier, but he admitted he was aghast at the level of back-room politics over the past week. He added that the premier's office actually contacted a number of communities and "called for a public demonstration," placing pressure squarely on MLAs.

"I know for a fact that some people are not voting from their hearts when they have to stand up and (they're) under the scrutiny of everybody in the Northwest Territories," he said. "Every time cabinet or the premier disagrees with me, are they going to go around and campaign my riding? It's a real bad precedent that's being set."

He said holding a public vote would not truly allow cabinet to vote freely because "anybody that was on cabinet was going to vote as a block, and anybody that broke cabinet solidarity might as well hand in their resignation," he said.

"And further to that, I objected as a potential candidate for cabinet that I should have to declare my loyalty (to Kakfwi) before even placing my name forward."

Despite a great deal of support from his counterparts, McLeod, a rookie MLA, said he decided not to let his name stand for minister of Health and Social Services because he would have to live in Yellowknife full time. He said that would be too much to ask of his family, who live in Fort Providence. Besides, there is less than two years remaining in the current mandate and he has other projects that he'd like to complete, he said.