Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is welcomed to Iqaluit on Saturday. ((Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press))

A Conservative government will ease the regulations governing development in Canada's North, the party said Saturday.

"Current development and regulatory structures in the North are overly complex and often are major barriers to growth," a Conservative news release said.

Party leader Stephen Harper took his message to Iqaluit Saturday, where he spoke with Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq and residents of community.

In a release on the party's website, Harper said the Conservatives will:

  • Set up a stand-alone regional development agency for Northern Canada like those that exist in the western provinces, northern Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
  • Set up a northern satellite office of the federal Major Projects Management Office, which deals with federal regulations governing major resource projects.
  • Improve the regulation of Northern natural resource projects by simplifying processes and reducing administrative costs.

Conservative plans to invest in and defend Canada's Arctic "represent a fundamental pillar of our Arctic agenda," the release said.

Harper also talked about steps the Conservatives have taken to ensure Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic, such as building an Arctic deep-water port and vessels to patrol Arctic waters.

The offshore riches under the Arctic waters — including oil and gas reserves — have led Russia and other countries to make claims on the ocean floor.

Just this week, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the Arctic is a vital part of Russia's economic future.

Harper has said he disagrees with Russia's claim.