The province’s former non-partisan environmental watchdog, whose office was abolished by Doug Ford’s Conservative government, was appointed as female Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario on Monday.

Dr. Dianne Saxe was appointed on Monday November 16, by Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner as the new female Deputy Leader. The male Deputy Leader remains Abhijeet Manay and the outgoing female Deputy Leader is Bonnie North, who stepped down in September after serving two consecutive terms. See all members of the Shadow Cabinet here.

“I think it’s really important to change the perceived area of political possibility.”


Saxe served as the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario from 2015-2019. In the face of Saxe’s criticism on the government’s climate policies, Conservative premier Doug Ford abolished the Environmental Commissioner’s Office, which served as Ontario’s independent, science-based, non-partisan voice for holding the government accountable.

Saxe is recognized as one of the world’s top 25 environmental lawyers with over 40 years experience in energy, environmental and climate laws(1). Saxe is also currently the Chair of Toronto’s Climate Advisory Committee.

Mike Schreiner, on appointing Saxe as Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario: “If there is one person in Ontario that the people of this province trust […] to be a knowledgeable voice and an articulate voice on how to address the climate crisis and the ecological crisis we face, I can’t think of anybody better to fulfill that position than Dianne Saxe”.

In a YouTube Livestream with Mike Schreiner, broadcast on November 16, Saxe answers the questions: “Why the turn to politics?” and “Why Greens?”

“[Globe and Mail Reporter] wrote that environmentalists, and I think he may have called out specifically women, like to work on policy and don’t like to get their hands dirty with politics.”

“But [policy] doesn’t actually change anything. The people in power set the rules […]. In a democracy, a big part of that is determined by who runs, who they run for. So even though this is a really hard thing for me…”

“…those who are fortunate have a duty to give back as best they can. And at this point in my career, this is something that I can do, and it seems to me as something I owe.”


When asked the question “Why do Greens matter?”, Saxe’s response:

“I think it’s really important to change the perceived area of political possibility […]. The Liberals’ perception is that they are doing as much as is politically possible on climate, and how much is that? Not very much.”

“If you look at the most recent Throne Speech from the Trudeau government, they had 21 priorities, and Climate […] right in the middle. Any lawyer knows you put your strongest point at the beginning or at the very end […], and all that other stuff, you stick in the middle […]. At the same time, they gave a billion dollars to Alberta to take clean-up obligations off the balance sheets of oil companies […]”.

“The bottom line is, Greens, by standing clearly for the kind of climate action we really need, that the science tells us we have to have, are expanding the political space”.

Dianne Saxe is running uncontested for the party’s nomination to represent the riding of University-Rosedale in central Toronto. The vote will take place December 1.


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Sarah Cui

Sarah Cui is in her fourth year of undergraduate studies in Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo. Her background is intercultural, having grown up in both Ottawa and northwestern China. Her areas of interest include environmental policy, degrowth and conservation. In her free time, Sarah enjoys connecting with friends, hiking, identifying plants and learning a new language.

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