Mark Rendell
Mark Rendell

Kieron Testart Withdraws from Liberal Nomination Race

As the Michael McLeod coronation proceeds, only two are left in the running for Team Trudeau.
The first candidate greenlit by the Liberals, Testart has thrown his support to Michael McLeod

This afternoon, NWT Liberal Party hopeful Kieron Testart withdrew from the race to become his party’s candidate in the forthcoming federal election, throwing his support instead behind former MLA Michael McLeod.

“Though we have accomplished so much, with less than 100 days until the election it is time for decisive action to ensure that local Liberals are united behind a strong candidate who will be our next Member of Parliament,” said Testart in a press release.

“Therefore, I am announcing my withdrawal from the nomination contest and placing my support behind the candidacy of Michael McLeod….Michael has proven his dedication to Northerners and, like me, shares Justin Trudeau’s vision for Canada. His experience, proven leadership, strong relationships with Indigenous governments, and deep understanding of Northern issues make it clear that he is the best choice to represent the Liberal Party and the NWT.”

For weeks EDGE had heard rumours of Testart’s immanent exit from the race, but he refused to comment on them when asked two weeks back. His withdrawal leaves McLeod with only one competitor, former Yellowknife city councillor Gail Cyr, who, according to NNSL, recently questioned if McLeod was unfairly benefiting from the support of the NWT Liberal Party’s communication people before the nomination meeting was held. NNSL also reported that Cyr had challenged McLeod to a debate, which he declined.

Testart, a former deputy sheriff who now works as a policy analyst for the GNWT’s Department of Justice, was the first candidate greenlit by the Liberals, though he was considered by many to be a long-shot candidate from the get-go. Although he’d been the president of the NWT Liberals and involved in the campaign to get Justin Trudeau elected as Liberal leader, unlike his competitors –Cyr, Robert Hawkins (for a short time) and McLeod – he has never held public office.

However, with two other elections this year, today’s announcement isn’t necessarily the end of Testart’s run for elected office. Well placed sources tell EDGE that Testart is considering a jump over to territorial politics, likely running in the Frame Lake riding, which is being vacated by current MLA Wendy Bisaro.

Testart himself would not confirm the rumours, but told EDGE, “my team and I are looking at opportunities in earnest. Once we’ve taken a look at the lay of the land we’ll make a decision.”

“That said, we’ve been talking to Northerners for a long time and the response has been positive. People like the message we’ve been sharing and for nine months we’ve been hearing about issues that are important to them. It seems a shame not to take action on those issues and bring them to some sort of political office.”

As of yet, there’s still no date set for the NWT Liberal nomination meeting.