Dr. Dianne Saxe is one of Canada’s most respected climate lawyer/ environmental lawyers, with 40+ years’ unparalleled experience writing, interpreting, and litigating Ontario’s energy, environmental and climate laws. An experienced team leader with substantial board experience; a skilled communicator with broad strategic vision. Hard-won expertise in government relations, corporate governance, public consultation and climate law and science. Heads SaxeFacts Law Professional Corporation, providing legal and strategic guidance on climate, energy and environment. Hosts Green Economy Heroes podcast, interviews with green Canadian business leaders. Featured on Wikipedia.

climate change torontoLeadership training and experience

2015 to 2019, Dr. Saxe was the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. She was appointed unanimously by all MPPs to report to the Legislature on Ontario’s environmental, energy and climate performance, and to be the guardian of the Environmental Bill of Rights. During her term, she improved the effectiveness of the Bill, increased public understanding of the urgency of climate change, and delivered 17 reports on environment, energy and climate. The Ford government abolished her position after she criticized its climate law and policies.

Board Experience: 

More than 20 years’ experience on public and private boards, including Draxis board and audit committee (public issuer). Non-profits included Secretary of Evergreen, a $10 million/year environmental charity; president and chair of Windshare renewable energy cooperative; Ontario Bar Association Endowment Investment Committee. Extensive professional assistance to boards and board members, especially on issues of personal and environmental liability. Author: Environmental Protection – Guidance & Recommendations for Boardroom Practice. Canadian Board Diversity Council Get on Board. Competent Boards program.

Business Experience

25 years running her own small business, a highly regarded environmental law boutique. A Certified Environmental Law Specialist, Dr. Saxe was recognized by all major legal rating services, including acknowledgement as one of the world’s top 25 environmental lawyers by Euromoney Best of the Best, 2008 and as Best Lawyers’ first Environmental Lawyer of the Year for Toronto.

Professional Qualifications

Ph.D. in Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, 1991. Ontario Bar, 1976. LL.B., Osgoode Hall Law School, 1974. Senior fellow, Massey College.

Awards include

Law Society Medal 2020. Toronto’s first Environmental Lawyer of the Year, selected by Best Lawyers. One of the world’s top 25 environmental lawyers, according to Best of the Best, 2008. Recognized by Lexpert, Who’s Who Legal, Chambers, Martindale Hubble and other rating agencies. Osgoode Hall Alumni Gold Key for Lifetime Achievement. Ontario Bar Association Distinguished Service Award. Clean50 honouree 2017.


WhenWhereSample issues
1975 to 1989Ontario Government Legal ServicesMajor infrastructure design, approvals and tradeoffs, e.g. the Bruce to Essa high voltage power line.
Public policy and stakeholder interests on energy pricing at the Ontario Energy Board.
Helped train the newly established environmental Investigations and Enforcement Branch.
Drafted and enforced more stringent pollution laws, especially against corporations and their officers and directors.
Complex prosecutions including spills by Inco and Imperial Oil.
Research paper on liability for contaminated sites for the Canadian Law Reform Commission.
1989 to 1990FaskensEstablished environmental law department to service corporate clients
1989 to 1991 Osgoode Hall Law SchoolPhD in Law on environmental enforcement: corporate responsibility and executive liability.
Published first Canadian text on the topic.
1991 to 2015 Saxe Law OfficeDefended corporations, officers and directors, municipalities and others in civil and criminal environmental cases, such as Neil Baker in Northstar Aerospace, where government imposed retroactive no fault infinite personal liability on an innocent director of a parent company for historic contamination
Obtained environmental approvals for contentious activities such as a smelter or waste management facilities
Wrote leading text on Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act and Environmental Bill of Rights
Published Guidance & Recommendations for Boardroom Practice to assist boards of directors with emerging environmental liabilities. Advised many boards on the topic.
Negotiated resolutions of environmental claims for clients such as mining company re tailing ponds overflow
Represented community groups protesting acid mine drainage and logging of old growth forest
Mediated successful settlement of a large civil claim for damages from negligent logging of a public park
Successfully obtained $115 million for Ontario municipalities from Stewardship Ontario in bitterly contested arbitration over Blue Box program, the only year that municipalities received the full 50% they were owed.
2015 to 2019 Environmental Commissioner of Ontario17 reports to the Ontario Legislature in English 17 reports to the Ontario Legislature in English and French on energy, environment and climate, including carbon pricing, offsets, endangered species, energy planning, public consultation, electricity and water pricing, nuclear power, electricity pricing and storage, infrastructure.
Key chapter on disproportionate impact of pollution on First Nations, including Aamjiwnaang and Grassy Narrows.
Successfully challenged government intent to improperly divert cap and trade funds to subsidize electricity rates.
Reached out to indigenous groups, and addressed at least one issue of importance to indigenous communities in every report.
Hundreds of presentations to stakeholders across the province. Extensive media, public and government interaction.
2019 to presentSaxeFacts Law Professional CorporationHost, Green Economy Heroes podcast
Research and advice on liability of Carbon Majors and financial institutions for climate damage
Regular presenter on climate issues on BNN Bloomberg and to a wide range of stakeholders, including financial institutions such as pension plans. Featured expert, e.g. for Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Toronto Centre on Global Leadership in Financial Supervision
Certified Climate Reality Leader, Certified climate ambassador, En-Roads simulator
Competent Boards participant
Trusted advisor to elected representatives at all levels of governments and in multiple parties. Chair, climate advisory committee for Toronto City Councillors