Prime Minister Stephen Harper says it would be “crazy economic policy” to impose regulations on Canada’s oil and gas sector at a time when oil prices are falling.

Answering questions about gas emissions and climate change in the House of Commons Tuesday, Harper said his government won’t consider “unilateral regulations” of the oil and gas sector.

“I’ve been very clear, Mr. Speaker, in terms of regulating the oil and gas sector. It’s something we’d like to do, but that we must do it on an integrated basis in a continental economy,” the Prime Minister said. 

“Frankly, Mr. Speaker, under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy, it would be crazy economic policy to do unilateral penalties on that sector. We’re clearly not going to do that.”

Harper’s comments came as environment ministers from four Canadian provinces – British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec-- signed an international agreement in Lima, Peru to combat climate change. 

The federal government has been promising to regulate the oil and gas sector since 2007 in an effort to curb emissions. During question period Tuesday, NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie asked: “Will the prime minister confirm that he is, in fact, breaking his promise to regulate the oil and gas sector?”

That’s when Harper reiterated that his government won’t impose regulations unilaterally.

He said Ottawa remains committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions “while preserving, protecting and growing Canadian jobs.”

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice warned Tuesday that his government will be dealing with a $6- to $7-billion shortfall if low oil prices persist.

Speaking at the Lima conference Tuesday, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Canada has shown that “it is possible to protect the environment while supporting economic growth.”

“Our record speaks for itself,” she said.

However, a report released by Environment Canada Monday says that Canada remains well short of meeting its commitment to cut greenhouse gases by 2020.

Under the Copenhagen Accord, Canada is supposed to reduce greenhouse gasemissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. But the 2014 Emissions Report suggests that Canada will only get halfway to its commitment over the next five years.

Julie Gelfand, Canada’s commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, told CTV’s Power Play Tuesday that it has been “clear” for some time that Canada would not reach its emission targets.

Gelfand’s own audit, released back in October, also found that Canada is all but certain to miss the Copenhagen Accord target.

Even if oil and gas sector regulations were introduced today, it would still take years for results to take effect, she said.

With files from The Canadian Press