Dianne Saxe

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Dianne Saxe

Dianne Saxe is an internationally recognized Canadian lawyer, rated among the top 25 environmental lawyers in the world.[1][2] She was the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario 2015-2019. She is the current Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario, serving with Abhijeet Manay.[3]

Legal career[edit]

Saxe studied law at Osgoode Hall Law School, earning an LL.B. in 1974 and a Ph.D., also from Osgoode, in 1991. She practiced law with the Ontario government for 14 years, worked in two major law firms and then ran an environmental law boutique firm for 25 years. For example, she represented the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in their successful $115 million claim against Stewardship Ontario[4] for the cost of Ontario's Blue Box program.

After being the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Dr. Saxe reopened her SaxeFacts environmental law practice focussed on climate issues.[5] She publishes articles,[6][7][8] and a blog [9] and presents on climate issues.[10] She was a McMurtry Clinical Fellow at Osgoode Hall Law School 2019-2020 [11] and is a senior fellow at Massey College and an adjunct professor at The University of Toronto School of the Environment. Dr. Saxe hosts a podcast called Green Economy Heroes featuring interviews with green business leaders.[12] She has also been a public support to the youth climate strikes movement in Toronto, and co-hosted a Youth Climate Summit with activists Alienor Rougeot and Emma Lim, and former child and youth advocate of Ontario Irwin Elman during the September week for climate in 2019.[13]

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario[edit]

Known for her role as an activist and her work in government and private practice, she was appointed to the position of Environmental Commissioner of Ontario in 2015 by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, unanimously, for a five year term.[14][1][15] The Commissioner was an independent legislative officer, guardian of the Environmental Bill of Rights and required by the Bill [16] to report to the Ontario Legislature each year on Ontario'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 widely used reports to the Legislature on topics including environmental injustice to First Nations,[17][18] electricity,[19] waste and circular economy,[20] endangered species,[21] water pollution,[22][23] soil health[24] and climate policy.[25][26] She also gave hundreds of talks across Canada.

The Doug Ford Conservative government elected in June, 2018, took strong exception to her critique of their rolling back Ontario's climate change laws and policies.[25][27][28][29] Soon afterwards, on 15 Nov. 2018, they announced that her position would be abolished by legislation and some of its functions transferred to the Auditor General.[30] Hundreds of scientists [31] plus the majority of Ontarians polled said that this move would have a negative impact on the environment.[32] Her last report was even more critical of the Doug Ford government.[33] After 25 years, the position of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, including the role of guardian of the Environmental Bill of Rights, ceased to exist when the Bill was amended on April 1, 2019.[16]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Dr. Saxe is a recipient of numerous awards, including specialist certifications from The Law Society of Upper Canada,[14] Osgoode Hall Law School Alumni Gold Key for Achievement [34] and a 2020 Law Society Medal for exemplary leadership in environmental law.[35] In August 2020, Dr. 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 Interactive and the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative.[36] Dr. Saxe is also a trained Climate Reality Leader, having been personally trained by Al Gore on the climate crisis and its solutions.

Books and articles[edit]

Her books include Environmental Offences, Corporate Responsibility and Executive Liability, published by Canada Law Book,[37] and A Buyer's Guide to Contaminated Land.[38] She was the founder and first author of Ontario Environmental Protection Act Annotated.[39] Her analyses have been cited with approval by many courts and commentators across Canada.[40]

Her articles have been published in many journals and periodicals for legal[41][42] and general audiences.,[43] such as 10 Principles to Guide the Transition to a Green Economy.[7] Some recent articles are posted at SaxeFacts.com.


Dr. Saxe appeared on episode 688 of the Toronto Mike'd podcast[44] for a thorough discussion about her career in environmental law and her service as Environmental Commissioner for Ontario.

Boards of directors[edit]

Dr. Saxe sat on a number of public and private boards, including Draxis Health, Solarshare,[45] WindShare and Evergreen,[46] helped to manage the endowment of the Ontario Bar Association and is recognized as Board-Ready by Women in Capital Markets.[47]


Dr. Saxe is the daughter of Canadian doctor, businessman, media personality and politician Morton Shulman[48] and the mother of MIT Neuroscience professor Rebecca Saxe, and University of Toronto Civil Engineering Professor, Shoshanna Saxe.


  1. ^ a b "Congratulations and welcome to the new Commissioner!". Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  2. ^ "About Dianne Saxe". Slaw: Canada's Online Legal Magazine. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  3. ^ McIntosh, Emma (November 16, 2020). "Former environmental watchdog Dianne Saxe appointed deputy leader of Ontario Greens". National Observer.
  4. ^ "AMO - Blue Box Arbitration". www.amo.on.ca.
  5. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "Climate Change Toronto and the Climate Crisis". Saxe Facts.
  6. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "Informative Climate Law Articles".
  7. ^ a b "10 principles to guide the transition to a green economy". Open Canada. September 16, 2019.
  8. ^ Saxedate=April 21, 2020, Dianne (21 April 2020). "Canada's murky bailout deal for oil and gas will cost us all". National Observer.
  9. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "Learn More in our Climate Risk Management Blog".
  10. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "In-Depth and Informative Climate Presentations".
  11. ^ "Meet the McMurtry Fellows". Osgoode Hall Law School.
  12. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "Green Economy Heroes Climate Podcast".
  13. ^ ICI.Radio-Canada.ca, Zone Environnement-. "Outiller les jeunes pour la lutte contre les changements climatiques". Radio-Canada.ca (in French). Retrieved 2020-07-25.
  14. ^ a b "Dianne Saxe '74, '91 (PhD) appointed Environmental Commissioner of Ontario". Osgoode Hall Law School. Osgoode Hall Law School. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  15. ^ "Focus: Saxe gearing up for new role as commissioner". Law Times News. Law Times News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Law Document English View". Ontario.ca. July 24, 2014.
  17. ^ "Environmental Commissioner of Ontario calls upon province to take action in Chemical Valley". Ecojustice. October 25, 2017.
  18. ^ "Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's Report". November 8, 2017.
  19. ^ https://eco.auditor.on.ca/reports/2018-making-connections/
  20. ^ https://eco.auditor.on.ca/reports/2017-beyond-the-blue-box/
  21. ^ https://eco.auditor.on.ca/reports/2017-good-choices-bad-choices/
  22. ^ https://eco.auditor.on.ca/reports/2018-back-to-basics/
  23. ^ "Raw sewage overflowing into waterways at alarming rate: Ontario watchdog". Global News.
  24. ^ https://eco.auditor.on.ca/reports/2016-putting-soil-health-first/
  25. ^ a b https://eco.auditor.on.ca/reports/2018-climate-action-in-ontario/
  26. ^ Saxe, Dianne. "ECO Reports and Environmental Policies in Canada".
  27. ^ https://docs.assets.eco.on.ca/reports/climate-change/2018/Climate-Action-in-Ontario-Comments.pdf
  28. ^ "Environmental Commissioner Files Final Report". March 28, 2019.
  29. ^ "The environmental commissioner shows why the powers Doug Ford just eliminated are so important". TVO.org.
  30. ^ "Opinion | Eliminating Ontario's environmental commissioner a short-sighted move". thestar.com. November 19, 2018.
  31. ^ "Scientists' letter to Ford on the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario". Evidence For Democracy. December 4, 2018.
  32. ^ https://secureservercdn.net/
  33. ^ "Ontario environment commissioner exits warning of 'frightening' policies". March 27, 2019.
  34. ^ "Alumni Gold Key Recipients". Osgoode Hall Law School.
  35. ^ "Law Society announces 2020 award recipients". Law Society of Ontario. Law Society of Ontario. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  36. ^ "Meet our Ambassadors". Climate Interactive. Retrieved 2020-08-07.
  37. ^ Saxe, Dianne. Environmental offences : corporate responsibility and executive liability – via www.torontopubliclibrary.ca.
  38. ^ https://commentary.canlii.org/w/canlii/1996CanLIIDocs14?zoupio-debug#!fragment//(hash:(chunk:(anchorText:),notesQuery:,scrollChunk:!n,searchQuery:'%22dianne%20saxe%22',searchSortBy:RELEVANCE,tab:search))
  39. ^ "Ontario Environmental Protection Act Annotated". store.thomsonreuters.ca.
  40. ^ https://www.canlii.org/en/index.php#search/text=%22dianne%20saxe%22&resultIndex=1
  41. ^ "The Lawyer's Daily". www.thelawyersdaily.ca.
  42. ^ "Environmental Accountability with Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario". Faculty of Law.
  43. ^ "Opinion | Climate crisis puts corporate boards on the hot seat". thestar.com. August 25, 2019.
  44. ^ "Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 688: Dr. Dianne Saxe". Toronto MIke'd. July 17, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  45. ^ "SolarShare". SolarShare.
  46. ^ "Home | Evergreen". www.evergreen.ca.
  47. ^ "Women in Capital Markets". Women in Capital Markets.
  48. ^ "Morton Shulman and Saxe family | Ontario Jewish Archives". search.ontariojewisharchives.org.

External links[edit]