O by Laura Dillman Ripley ver the past five years, Scott Vaughan has made national headlines, sparking debate and criticism over Canada’s environmental track record. As the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development in the Office of the Auditor General, Vaughan — affectionately known as Canada’s environmental watchdog by the media — presented 10 reports to Parliament and the public on the state of Canada’s environmental regulations and processes and what challenges lay ahead. “It was an exercise in discipline. We looked at what the government said it was going to do for environmental protection, checked if it was done, and if wasn’t done, we asked why not. As commissioner, my job was to stay neutral and present an objective report,” he says. Vaughan left his post in the Office of the Auditor General this past spring and began his new role as President and CEO of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), a Canada-based public policy research think tank — his first time running a non-profit organization. “I’ve spent many years working at envi- ronmental implementation at the national level — both in Canada and internationally,” he says. The IISD office is an interesting perspective. It’s also a very different set up — there are about 120 people in offices around the world.” Prior to joining the Office of the Auditor General, Vaughan worked as director of sustainable development of the Organization of American States in Washington. While the environment was also the focus, Vaughan says the work was quite different from his role as commissioner. “We did a lot of international water work, so you are working with many different governments from several smaller countries. Most have very limited resources, which provided another challenge for the partners,” he says. Vaughan’s reports in Canada have received much attention, shining a light on some of the gaps in goals versus actions for Canadian environmental policy. He says Canadians still have some critical environmental issues to address, including improving communication and educational frameworks, as well as making sure environmental protection keeps pace with resource development. “No one argues about keeping data for economic issues — we have set GDP numbers and statistics on things like employment insurance. Actually getting the fundamental environmental data is more complex,” he says. “We need to make sure we have the scientific research capacity to keep informed about environmental issues and communicate these accurately to the public. We (Canada) and many other countries are really at a crossroads when it comes to the environment — we need to address the challenges of making sure our environmental protection plan is in line with our economic development.” Originally from Halifax and Montreal, Vaughan headed to Mount Allison following in the footsteps of his uncle. He had planned on a degree in chemistry, but soon found himself studying history and English. He went on to obtain degrees from Dalhousie University, the University of Edinburgh, and the London School of Economics and Political Science. “I had a fantastic experience at Mount Allison — the quality of education, the small community, the inspiring professors. I left Sackville feeling like I could take on the world.” / 21