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FOCUS: Greens tap Dianne Saxe (Spring 2022)

April 11th, 2022 · No Comments

Saxe was Environmental Commissioner before Ford axed role

Annex resident Dianne Saxe, the last Ontario Environmental Commissioner before Doug Ford axed the role, seeks a mandate to return as an MPP. COURTESY DIANE SAXE

By Danielle Popov

Dianne Saxe hopes to return to Queen’s Park as an MPP with the Green Party of Ontario. The former provincial Environment Commissioner’s role was abolished in 2019 by the Ford government. Her plan, she says, is to push the province to tackle the climate crisis with authority.

“People talk about holding the government accountable – that’s exactly what I did as the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario,” says Saxe. “I’ve done more to hold the government accountable than any oppositional venture can do.” 

Dr. Saxe was appointed as Environmental Commissioner of Ontario in 2015 to provide oversight on 17 government ministries. She also delivered 17 reports on energy, environment and climate issues to serve public issues. Dr. Saxe was an environmental lawyer for 46 years; in that time, she won Toronto’s first Environmental Lawyer of The Year, and was acknowledged as one of the world’s top 25 environmental lawyers by Best of the Best. 

“I have a very thorough expertise in how government works, in how the law works, in how businesses to any scale works,” she says. 

Dr. Saxe is also proud of her work representing Ontario municipalities and successfully obtaining $115 million from Stewardship Ontario over the Blue Box program (the only year that municipalities got the full 50% of what they were owed).

She also spent most of 2021 preparing and consulting the Green Party of Ontario’s Roadmap to Net-Zero, the Green Party’s climate plan to reach net-zero by 2045.

Dr. Saxe’s decision to run for the Green Party was not an easy one (she was decisively  non-partisan for 45 years) but she is motivated by the belief that action towards a greener future needs to be taken.

“What we need is good public policy, and those decisions get made by people who are elected.” 

Her roots with University-Rosedale run deep. She grew up in the riding, her father was an MPP, and she raised her children here.

“The people of University-Rosedale have a unique opportunity where strategic voting is not necessary, and they can vote for the future that they want, rather than against Ford. University-Rosedale hasn’t voted Conservative in 40 years.” 

Saxe adds that even a single Green MP or MPP has a big impact in changing the government’s conversation. 

“The impact of having elected Greens is that we create thought leadership, in exactly the same way that I did as commissioner: I couldn’t tell anyone what to do but I could lay out, authoritatively, what the facts are and what good policy should look like.” 

When asked about her stance on current University-Rosedale MPP Jessica Bell, Saxe responded with, “From everything I heard, Jessica Bell is a fine person. But she hasn’t been able to move her party, and we can tell that from the green plan that they have put out. We also have a better housing plan and much better climate plan.”

“In my last report, two days before my office was abolished, I stated that the largest source for climate and environmental destruction was urban sprawl. And if you look at the NDP’s climate plan, urban sprawl isn’t even mentioned. And the Liberals don’t even have a plan.”

“I hope to change the public’s understanding of what their choices are, which is something Jessica cannot do because she is bound by party discipline, but something I can and will do.” 

Dr. Saxe is intent on listening to her riding and understands that that they are intent on wanting their vote to have an impact. 

“Sending me back to Queen’s Park after Doug Ford went through so much trouble to try to shut me up, and electing deputy leaders in the Green Party – that will send a message that gets heard right across the province and beyond in ways that Jessica simply can’t do.”

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