Scott Vaughan, commissioner of the environment and sustainable development. (Andre Forget/QMI AGENCY)
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper shrugged off a scathing report Tuesday, calling it a "useful piece of advice," despite its conclusion the government has failed to ensure environmental protections keep pace with resource development.
Every chapter of the environment commissioner's semi-annual report touches on the theme of inadequate environmental protections during a major push by the government for accelerated resource development.
"We need a boom in environmental regulation to keep pace with economic development," Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan told reporters. "There is a cautionary tale in this report that we need more balance between the environment and economy."
For example, the government requires certain polluting industries to pay liability protection — an insurance, of sorts — against potential catastrophes such as an oil spill.
Vaughan's report points out that for the nuclear and offshore oil industries, those liability caps haven't changed in decades and likely couldn't cover the cost of a disaster.