DUNVEGAN: It may be her first time being nominated as a candidate in a federal election, but the Conservative candidate for the federal riding of Cape Breton-Canso comes with more than three decades of experience working in the nation’s capital.
For over 30 years, Fiona MacLeod worked in Ottawa for the Conservative Party in the House of Commons, Senate of Canada, and within various federal departments, learning the inner mechanisms of how government works.
“I am retired as of this spring after spending 32-years in Ottawa,” MacLeod told The Reporter from her home in Dunvegan. “I worked half my career for the Conservative party for MPs, ministers and senators.”
While this is the first time she’s put herself forward as a candidate, she started out her career campaigning for Stewart McInnes in Halifax in 1984.
“And that’s where I entered the federal political fray,” MacLeod said. “I’ve always been interested in running, however other family commitments; raising our family and our work, really prevented me from putting myself out there as a candidate previously.”
The timing was right she said, now that their children are older and her husband, who was a police officer in Ottawa, have retired, they have come back to the area and are completely committed to the riding.
“For me personally, what I have to offer the constituents of Cape Breton-Canso is first of all, from a professional perspective,” MacLeod said. “I have a great understanding of how it works at the federal level in Ottawa, and that understanding is two-fold.”
She said this includes how the parliamentary process works, as well as how departments, funding and budgets work.
“At a personal level, I see myself bringing to the table, that professional understanding but my own personal understanding of this riding,” MacLeod said. “From a business perspective especially; being a part of a family that has been running a tourism business.”
Her husband Murdock’s family is strongly committed to the riding of Cape Breton-Canso, operating tourism businesses in Inverness County for over 50 years as owners of the MacLeod’s Beach and Campsite, Inverness Beach Village and MacLeod’s Inn.
She said her own love and commitment to community comes from her father, Alastair MacLeod, who provided dental services for over 35 years in Glace Bay, Arichat and concurrently in Sydney; growing that into what is now the Mayflower Mall Dental Centre.
“I see myself as providing the opportunity of try to be the ambassador for this great riding,” MacLeod said. “As well as be a lobbyist for this riding in terms of their needs and what they need to be supported on at a federal level.”
She suggested while she was born in Scotland and emigrated with her family to Canada in 1968, grew up in Halifax and has lived in Ottawa for the past 32 years, there is nowhere else that she would run in the country, as she’s called the area home ever since her parents moved there in the 1980’s when she was attending StFX University.
“I was married here, our children were baptized here,” MacLeod said. “I feel that I’m actually part of this riding like no other place in the country.”
As for the concerns she’s been hearing since becoming the Conservative candidate, she’s heard about the challenges finding affordable accommodation, challenges with the speed of internet and access to cell phone service, and the challenges of finding specialists and doctors.
“Obviously the impact COVID has had on the tourism industry, and the challenges that industry has had,” MacLeod said in relation to her husband’s family business. “I’m also hearing some great success stories about significant businesses that employ over 100 people, and their desires to thrive and grow; and the need for less red tape federally to allow them to do that.”
As for what issue she’d take to Ottawa on behalf of her constituents first, if elected, she wouldn’t say what that would be just yet, as she still has to get out on the campaign trail and doesn’t want to presume what that may be without connecting with the entire riding first.
She said as an elected official, her role would be lobbying at all political levels to try to figure out who’s doing what and figure out where the opportunities and needs are in terms of the priority list.
“As your competing with 337 other ridings across Canada, you really have to push at all levels,” MacLeod said. “To really facilitate Cape Breton-Canso issues and desires at the federal level.”
When asked about her focus on securing jobs, securing the economy, and securing the future for the hard-working families in Cape Breton-Canso, which was mentioned in her bio on her campaign web site, she explained more details will follow.
“During the campaign, I will be expanding on that based on the Conservative platform.”