Conservative leader Stephen Harper set out his party’s priorities for the Northwest Territories in a written response to NWT Premier Bob McLeod on Monday.

In August, McLeod challenged four federal leaders – Harper, Tom Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May – to explain how their parties would approach key concerns in the North.

McLeod said responses received by September 18 would be published online by the NWT government. Only May met that deadline; Mulcair replied on September 22.

Harper’s letter, forwarded to media by the campaign team of NWT Conservative candidate Floyd Roland, is dated October 5. Moose FM is not aware of any response from Trudeau.

In full: Stephen Harper’s letter to NWT Premier Bob McLeod (pdf)

In his letter, the Conservative leader contrasts his party’s “proven record and plan for the future” with what he says is a “high-tax, high-debt” agenda pursued by his political rivals. “That will only hurt our economy, especially in places like the Northwest Territories,” he adds.

“In 2015-16, the Government of the Northwest Territories will receive $1.3 billion through major transfers from our
Conservative government – an increase of $524 million compared to the last year of the previous Liberal government,” Harper’s response continues.

The letter claims the Liberals and New Democrats are “committed to fiscally irresponsible approaches that will hurt the economy through drastic tax hikes and high debt, and reckless carbon pricing schemes that will impact Northerners in particular by increasing the price of food, fuel, and home heating”.

Harper pledges support for resource development, saying a re-elected Conservative government would renew the mineral exploration tax credit and create “an enhanced mineral exploration tax credit for Northern and remote projects”.

Read: NDP leader Mulcair responds to McLeod’s Northern issues letter

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In setting out his low-tax vision, Harper commits to “a review of the Northern Residents Deductions to ensure they are appropriate to the realities of living and working in Canada’s North”. There are also nods to previously announced federal investment in NWT infrastructure.

The letter concludes: “No government in Canadian history has done as much for the North than our Conservative government. The Liberals and NDP have the wrong plan for Northerners.”

Michael McLeod opposes Roland for the Liberals in the NWT, while New Democrat Dennis Bevington is standing for re-election as the territory’s MP. John Moore is the Green candidate.

In his own letter to the NWT Premier, Mulcair said the Conservatives had “passed an enormous environmental debt on to our children and grandchildren”.

He added: “The federal government of Stephen Harper has refused to engage in dialogue, acting unilaterally in crucial areas like healthcare and skills training.”

The NDP releases details of its Northern policies on Tuesday. Last week, the Liberals pledged “major infrastructure investments in Yellowknife” – including $20 million to help the city replace a key water pipe – if elected to government.