Wally Schumann — the former MLA for Hay River South and a former territorial cabinet minister — says he is “leaning” towards seeking the Conservative Party of Canada nomination to run in the next federal election in the NWT riding.
“I’d say I’m probably halfway there,” he said on Sept. 9.
Schumann noted it is almost a year since the last territorial election when he lost his seat in the legislative assembly, after serving one four-year term.
“You’ve got to take time, stop and reflect about what you want to do next,” he said. “When I ran, I had full intentions of going back to the Ledge and helping the Northwest Territories in any way that I could.”
Now, Schumann said he is thinking about how he can help the NWT at the federal level.
“As far as the public goes and talking to fellow Conservatives across the Northwest Territories, there’s a lot of support there,” he said. “A lot of people have asked me to run. I’ve even got calls from down south that are people very supportive of the idea of me running because they see what I did as a minister and that I can bring some credibility to the Conservative Party around Northern issues.”
While he is halfway to making a decision, Schumann said the other 50 per cent is going to involve considering his family, and how much of a time commitment would be involved in serving as an MP.
Plus, he is also considering the possibility of serving as a cabinet minister in a Conservative government.
“I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but if you’re a regular MP you’re still gone more than I was probably as a minister in the territorial government, but if you’re a federal cabinet minister then you’re really gone,” he said. “Those are the things I’ve got to consider. That’s why I say I’m probably only halfway there.”
Schumann said he would “certainly” be seeking a cabinet post in a Conservative government, if he and the party were elected.
“I don’t think I would be totally honest with the public if I said that I wasn’t,” he said. “I think that I would be a good candidate to help represent all of the North, not just the Northwest Territories, but right across a broad range of the North.”
During the previous legislative assembly, he served as minister of Infrastructure and minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.
Schumann joined the Conservative Party of Canada this year, which he noted is the first time he has been a member of any political party.
The possible candidate said new Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole brings a lot to the table.
“One nice thing I like about him, he has been up to Canada’s Arctic in a military role,” said Schumann. “He certainly understands us. He was a part of Harper’s government. And he understands the investment that needs to take place in Canada’s Arctic, along with a whole bunch of other issues not just in economic development but on social issues, food security and all the other things.”
Prior to the recent party vote that elected a new leader, Schumann talked to several of the candidates, particularly about Northern issues.
“We don’t just want to be a park and we definitely don’t want to be just a buffer zone between us and Putin,” he said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Schumann said he is not going to say who he voted for in the leadership race, but noted the party now needs to rally around O’Toole.
In the 2019 territorial election, Schumann lost to Rocky Simpson in Hay River South.
Up until that time, he was considering a run to become premier.
On Sept. 23, the minority Liberal government will introduce a speech from the throne, which will be followed by a vote of confidence. If the government loses that vote, it could trigger an election.
In the 2019 federal election, the Conservative Party was represented in the NWT by Yellowknife’s Yanik D’Aigle, who told NNSL Media that he is interested in once again being the candidate.
“My intention is to run again,” D’Aigle said. “I’m the candidate of record until nomination is held, and so if we had the opportunity to have a nomination leading up to an election, then at that point there is a competition.”
The NWT riding is currently represented by Liberal Michael McLeod.
A Conservative has not been elected to represent the NWT in the House of Commons since the 1980s, when Dave Nickerson was elected for the Progressive Conservatives in what was then called the riding of Western Arctic.
– with files from Simon Whitehouse