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Meet Ontario's radical new environment commissioner

Jan 14, 2016

Ontario Environment Commissioner Dianne Saxe

Ontario’s new environment commissioner wants an end to cheap diesel for farmers and a rethink of sprawl-minded transportation and land-use policies, and that’s just for starters.

“We don’t have a true level playing field in transportation, in agriculture, we don’t have it in land development. We have a regulatory system that got us what we’ve got,” says Dianne Saxe, who’s been the province’s environment commissioner for a month. She comes to the job after a 40-year career as an environmental lawyer, the consensus choice of all three parties at Queen’s Park.

The new commissioner was drawn to environmental law by “a mad passion for trees and a love for any place you could put a paddle,” she half-jokes. She was sent off to camp on Lake Couchiching near Orillia as a small child, from the family postage-stamp sized property in Toronto (her father was crusading coroner Morton Shulman), and was inspired.

But a law practice is a retail business. Most of your victories are small. “What I really wanted was to work on larger social issues,” she says.

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