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Dianne Saxe

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Dianne Saxe
Toronto City Councillor
for Ward 11 University—Rosedale
Assumed office
November 15, 2022
Preceded byMike Layton
Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario
In office
November 16, 2020 – October 29, 2022
LeaderMike Schreiner
Preceded byAbhijeet Manay
Succeeded byAbhijeet Manay
3rd Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
In office
PremierKathleen Wynne
Doug Ford
Preceded byEllen Schwartzel (interim)
Succeeded byPosition abolished[1]
Personal details
Dianne Maria Shulman

(1952-11-27) November 27, 1952 (age 71)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Political partyIndependent
Other political
Ontario Green
Stewart Saxe
(m. 1972; died 2014)
Children2; including Rebecca
Alma mater

Dianne Saxe, née Shulman, (born November 27, 1952) is a Canadian lawyer and politician who was elected to represent Ward 11 University—Rosedale on Toronto City Council following the 2022 municipal election. Before entering politics, Saxe practised environmental law and served as the last environmental commissioner of Ontario from 2015 to 2019. She was deputy leader of the Green Party of Ontario (GPO) from 2020 to 2022.




Saxe studied law at Osgoode Hall Law School, earning an Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B.) in 1974. She was called to the bar in 1976 and earned a Ph.D. in law from Osgoode in 1991.[3]



Prior to entering the government sector, Saxe worked in private practice with two major law firms and then ran an environmental law boutique firm for 25 years. Her early career focused on the intersection of environmental law and corporate liability, while her more recent practice has centred on climate change and related law. She has published widely on environmental issues. From 1975 to 1989, Saxe practiced law with the Government of Ontario.[3][4]

In 1991, Saxe moved into private practice. She represented the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) in their successful $115 million claim against Stewardship Ontario for the cost of Ontario's Blue Box program in 2014.[5]

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario


Saxe was unanimously named the environmental commissioner of Ontario in 2015 by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for a five year term.[6] The commissioner was an independent officer of the legislature which monitored the Environmental Bill of Rights, and submitted annual reports on the province's progress on each of energy conservation, environmental protection and climate change. She was also permitted to deliver special reports. As commissioner, she delivered 17 reports to the legislature on topics including environmental injustice to First Nations,[7][8] electricity, waste and circular economy, endangered species, water pollution,[9] soil health and climate policy.[10][11]

On November 15, 2018, the Progressive Conservative (PC) government announced their intention to abolish the position of environment commissioner, transferring some of its functions to the auditor general.[12] Saxe had published reports critical of the incoming administration's environmental positions, including the absence of a climate change policy.[13] The decision to eliminate independent environmental oversight was widely reported on. More than 200 scientists and researchers sent an open letter to Premier Doug Ford calling for reconsideration.[14] Her last report was heavily critical of the Ford government.[15] After 25 years, the position of the environmental commissioner of Ontario ceased to exist when the Environmental Bill of Rights was amended on April 1, 2019.[16]

Return to private practice


After being the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Saxe reopened her SaxeFacts environmental law practice focussed on climate issues.[17] She publishes articles and a blog and presents on climate issues.[18][19][20][21][22] She was a McMurtry Clinical Fellow at Osgoode Hall Law School from 2019 to 2020,[23] is a senior fellow at Massey College, and an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto School of the Environment. She hosts a podcast called "Green Economy Heroes" features interviews with green business leaders,[24] and has also been a public support to the youth climate strikes movement in Toronto.[25]

Political career


2022 provincial election


Saxe ran for the Green Party of Ontario in University—Rosedale. Her candidacy was confirmed along with the deputy leader role on November 30, 2020.[26] She has cited the climate crisis as a primary reason for her political run as well as the well-publicized conflict with Ford over the closure of her office.[27][28] The riding was one of a small number of ridings the Ontario Greens targeted to add to the single-seat caucus of provincial leader Mike Schreiner in the 2022 election; Saxe featured prominently in party campaign messaging and her riding was chosen for the platform launch.[28] Housing policy and sprawl—key policy battles in Greater Toronto—were a focus of Saxe's campaign to curb Ontario emissions.[27] The official party platform listed mental health, affordable housing, and the climate economy as its primary election pillars.[29] Saxe came in fourth place, with 6,092 total votes for a share of 15.9 per cent; the riding was won by the incumbent, New Democratic Party (NDP) member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Jessica Bell.[30] Saxe nearly tripled the Green vote share achieved in the 2018 provincial election.

2022 municipal election


Ward 11 University—Rosedale was left vacant for the 2022 election when Councillor Mike Layton announced he would not seek re-election. Saxe announced her candidacy for the 2022 Toronto municipal election, concluding on October 24, 2022.[31] Saxe stated that she was running as an independent municipally and would resign as deputy leader of the GPO if elected.[32]

Saxe list housing, mobility, climate and sustainability, and a city in good repair as her primary platform planks.[32]

She won with 8,614 votes and 35.37 per cent of the total vote.[33] She officially took office on November 15, 2022.[34]

City Council


Saxe's first year on Toronto City Council coincided with the resignation of Mayor John Tory and the by-election that saw Olivia Chow assume the mayoralty. Saxe has held a number of committee appointments across both administrations, often relating to her background in environment and law. Chief among her appointments is the powerful Infrastructure and Environment Committee. Under Mayor Chow she has also been appointed to the board of the Toronto Transit Commission and Toronto Hydro.[35]

Her full list of council roles:

  • Infrastructure and Environment Committee
  • Toronto and East York Community Council
  • Toronto Atmospheric Fund Board of Directors
  • Toronto Transit Commission
  • National Zero Waste Council Management Board
  • Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
  • Toronto Hydro Corporation
  • 58 Cecil Street Community Centre Board of Management
  • William H.(Bill) Bolton Arena Board of Management[36]

Awards and recognition


Saxe is a recipient of numerous awards, including specialist certifications from The Law Society of Upper Canada,[6] Osgoode Hall Law School Alumni Gold Key for Achievement [37] and a 2020 Law Society Medal for exemplary leadership in environmental law.[38] In August 2020, Saxe completed her training to become an En-ROADS Climate Ambassador, a member in the international network that leads climate simulation events developed by Climate Interactiv and the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative.[39] Saxe is also a trained Climate Reality Leader, having been personally trained by Al Gore on the climate crisis and its solutions.

Saxe sat on a number of public and private boards, including Draxis Health, Solarshare,[40] WindShare and Evergreen,[41] helped to manage the endowment of the Ontario Bar Association and is recognized as board-ready by Women in Capital Markets.[42] In June 2022, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo.[43]

Personal life


Dianne Marie Shulman was born in Toronto on November 27, 1952,[44][45] to Gloria (née Bossin) and Dr. Morton Shulman.[46] He was Metropolitan Toronto's Chief Coroner in the mid-1960s, dealing with such files as vehicle safety issues and deaths caused by clandestine abortions.[47] He then served in the Ontario Legislative Assembly from 1967 to 1975 as a New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP). He represented the High Park electoral district, where his medical practice was located.[48]

She was married for 42 years to Stewart Saxe until his death in November 2014.[49] Their daughters are MIT neuroscience professor Rebecca Saxe,[50] and University of Toronto civil engineering professor,[51] Shoshanna Saxe.[49]




  • Saxe, Dianne (1990a). Environmental Offences Corporate Responsibility and Executive Liability. Aurora, ON: Canada Law Book.[52]
  • Saxe, Dianne (1990b). Ontario Environmental Protection Act Annotated. Aurora, ON: Canada Law Book Inc.[53]
  • Saxe, Dianne (1994). A Buyer's Guide to Contaminated Land. Toronto: Edmond Montgomery.[54]

Electoral history

2022 Ontario general election: University—Rosedale
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Jessica Bell 13,961 37.55 −12.11 $96,148
Liberal Andrea Barrack 10,172 27.36 +5.30 $120,103
Progressive Conservative Carl Qiu 6,535 17.58 −3.53 $43,740
Green Dianne Saxe 5,904 15.88 +10.51 $118,893
New Blue James Leventakis 469 1.26   $47
Stop the New Sex-Ed Agenda John Kanary 140 0.38   $0
Total valid votes/Expense limit 37,181 99.49 +0.45 $121,100
Total rejected, unmarked, and declined ballots 189 0.51 −0.45
Turnout 37,370 43.20 −13.43
Eligible voters 86,192
New Democratic hold Swing −8.71
  • "Summary of Valid Votes Cast for Each Candidate" (PDF). Elections Ontario. 2022. Archived from the original on May 18, 2023.
  • "Statistical Summary by Electoral District" (PDF). Elections Ontario. 2022. Archived from the original on May 21, 2023.


  1. ^ Loriggio, Paola (March 15, 2019). "Five losing jobs as Ontario's environment commissioner's office folds in with auditor". CBC News. Toronto: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The Canadian Press. Archived from the original on March 29, 2023. Retrieved July 18, 2024.
  2. ^ Saxe, Dianne (January 30, 2015). "Lives Lived: Stewart Saxe, 67". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 6, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Chronology". Saxe Facts. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  4. ^ Rushowy, Kristin (October 8, 2021). "Political parties are aligning their stars for next year's Ontario election". The Toronto Star. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  5. ^ "Update on Blue Box Arbitration". Stewardship Ontario. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Dianne Saxe '74, '91 (PhD) appointed Environmental Commissioner of Ontario". Osgoode Hall Law School. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  7. ^ "Environmental Commissioner of Ontario calls upon province to take action in Chemical Valley". Ecojustice. October 25, 2017.
  8. ^ "Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's Report". Dragun Corporation. November 8, 2017.
  9. ^ "Raw sewage overflowing into waterways at alarming rate: Ontario watchdog". Global News. November 13, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  10. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "ECO Reports and Environmental Policies in Canada".
  11. ^ "Reports by Topic: Environment". Office of the Auditor General of Ontario. 2021. Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  12. ^ "Opinion | Eliminating Ontario's environmental commissioner a short-sighted move". thestar.com. November 19, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  13. ^ "The environmental commissioner shows why the powers Doug Ford just eliminated are so important". TVO.org. November 22, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  14. ^ "Scientists' letter to Ford on the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario". Evidence For Democracy. December 4, 2018.
  15. ^ "Ontario environment commissioner exits warning of 'frightening' policies". March 27, 2019.
  16. ^ "Law Document English View". Ontario.ca. July 24, 2014.
  17. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "Climate Change Toronto and the Climate Crisis". Saxe Facts.
  18. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "Informative Climate Law Articles".
  19. ^ "10 principles to guide the transition to a green economy". Open Canada. September 16, 2019.
  20. ^ Saxe, Dianne (April 21, 2020). "Canada's murky bailout deal for oil and gas will cost us all". National Observer.
  21. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "Learn More in our Climate Risk Management Blog".
  22. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "In-Depth and Informative Climate Presentations".
  23. ^ "Meet the McMurtry Fellows". Osgoode Hall Law School.
  24. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "Green Economy Heroes Climate Podcast".
  25. ^ ICI.Radio-Canada.ca, Zone Environnement-. "Outiller les jeunes pour la lutte contre les changements climatiques". Radio-Canada.ca (in Canadian French). Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  26. ^ "Dianne Saxe named Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario". Green Party of Ontario. November 16, 2020. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  27. ^ a b Appel, Jeremy (April 8, 2022). "Environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe credits Jewish values and concern for the planet for her role in Ontario's Green Party". Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  28. ^ a b Powers, Lucas (May 11, 2022). "Green Party campaign platform includes $65B for 'new climate economy,' major health-care promises". CBC. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  29. ^ "The Green Plan". Green Party of Ontario. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  30. ^ "Ontario Votes 2022". Encyclopedia of Things. CBC. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  31. ^ "List of Candidates & Third Party Advertisers". City of Toronto. August 20, 2022. Retrieved August 20, 2022.
  32. ^ a b "Platform". Votefordianne. Dianne Saxe. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  33. ^ "2022 Municipal Election Results". City of Toronto. Retrieved October 26, 2022.
  34. ^ "2022 Candidates' Guide - Ontario municipal council and school board elections". ontario.ca. Retrieved November 1, 2022.
  35. ^ Ryder, David; Hasham, Alyshah; Spur, Ben (April 14, 2024). "Dianne Saxe: The Stickler". Toronto Star. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. Archived from the original on April 17, 2024. Retrieved July 11, 2024.
  36. ^ "Councillor Dianne Saxe". City of Toronto. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  37. ^ "Alumni Gold Key Recipients". Osgoode Hall Law School.
  38. ^ "Law Society announces 2020 award recipients". Law Society of Ontario. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  39. ^ "Meet our Ambassadors". Climate Interactive. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  40. ^ "SolarShare". SolarShare. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  41. ^ "Home | Evergreen". www.evergreen.ca. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  42. ^ "WCM Board Ready Directory". Women in Capital Markets. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  43. ^ "Inspiring leaders will receive honorary degrees from University of Waterloo". University of Waterloo. May 31, 2022. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  44. ^ "Births: Shulman". Toronto Daily Star. November 29, 1952. p. 35. Retrieved July 17, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.
  45. ^ "Births: Shulman". Toronto Daily Star. July 8, 1954. p. 36. Retrieved July 17, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.
  46. ^ Dempsey, Lotta (April 13, 1967). "Meet Mrs. Morton Shulman". Toronto Daily Star. Toronto. p. 65. Retrieved July 18, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.
  47. ^ Wencer, David (July 21, 2012). "Historicist: Introducing Dr. Morton Shulman". Torontoist. Toronto: St. Joseph Communications. Archived from the original on December 2, 2022. Retrieved July 17, 2024.
  48. ^ Downey, Donn (August 19, 2000). "Morton Shulman: Cult-hero coroner made millions". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. p. A16. Retrieved July 17, 2024 – via ProQuest.
  49. ^ a b "Death Notice: Stewart Saxe". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. November 25, 2014. p. S5. Retrieved July 17, 2024 – via ProQuest.
  50. ^ Keller, Julia C. (August 16, 2021). "Jacqueline Lees and Rebecca Saxe named associate deans of science". MIT News. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on June 3, 2024. Retrieved July 17, 2024.
  51. ^ Pinto, Fahad (December 16, 2020). "Shoshanna Saxe Associate Professor Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering". UofT Engineering News. University of Toronto. Archived from the original on February 21, 2024. Retrieved July 17, 2024.
  52. ^ Saxe, Dianne (1990). Environmental Offences: Corporate Responsibility and Executive Liability. Aurora, Ontario: Canada Law Book Inc. Retrieved July 18, 2024 – via Internet Archive.
  53. ^ Saxe, Dianne (1990). Ontario Environmental Protection Act Annotated (1st ed.). Aurora, Ontario: Canada Law Book Inc. ISBN 0888041128. Retrieved July 18, 2024.
  54. ^ Serne, Kenneth P. (1996). "Book Review - A Buyer's Guide to Contaminated Land". Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies. 5. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Schulich School of Law: 302–304. Retrieved July 18, 2024 – via CanLII.