Transcript: Our Environmental Guardian | Dec 07, 2018

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and spotted purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Ontario's Environmental Guardian. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says FOR NEARLY 25 YEARS,
ONTARIO'S ENVIRONMENTAL
COMMISSIONER HAS REPORTED TO THE
LEGISLATURE ON THE STATE OF OUR
WATERWAYS, WILDLIFE, AIR
QUALITY, AND SUCH.
THIS YEAR'S REPORT - TITLED
"BACK TO BASICS" - CONTAINS SOME
CAUSES FOR REAL CONCERN,
INCLUDING AN ASSESSMENT OF THE
AMOUNT OF RAW SEWAGE FLOWING
INTO OUR LAKES AND RIVERS.
AND NOTABLY, IT'S ISSUED AT A
TIME WHEN IT'S UNCLEAR WHAT THE
FUTURE OF THE OFFICE WILL
BECOME, IN LIGHT OF THE
GOVERNMENT'S PLAN TO ELIMINATE
IT AS AN INDEPENDENT WATCHDOG.
DIANNE SAXE IS ONTARIO'S
ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSIONER AND
SHE JOINS US NOW FOR MORE.

Dianne is in her sixties, with short, wavy gray hair. She's wearing glasses, a black blazer over a pink shirt, a yellow scarf and a pearl necklace.

Steve continues GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK IN THAT CHAIR.

Dianne says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Steve says CAN WE JUST START BY
HAVING YOU REMIND US WHAT THE
MISSION OF YOUR OFFICE IS?

Dianne says SURE.
I AM THE GUARDIAN OF THE
ENVIRONMENTAL BILL OF RIGHTS.

As she shows a booklet with a picture of a waterfall in a forest on the cover, she says
ANYONE WHO WANTS TO KNOW WHAT
THAT IS, GO TO OUR WEBSITE, ECO.ON.CA.
I HAVE BEEN REQUIRED TO REPORT
TO THE LEGISLATURE AT LEAST
THREE TIMES A YEAR ON ENERGY,
ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE.

The caption changes to "For more information: eco.on.ca."

Steve says AND WHEN YOU HAVE
FILED REPORTS IN THE PAST,
YOU'VE HAD THE JOB FOR THREE
YEARS NOW, DO GOVERNMENTS TEND
TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU SAY
AND THEN TRY TO FIX WHAT YOU
SAY?

The caption changes to "Dianne Saxe. Environmental Commissioner of Ontario."

Dianne says THEY DO PAY ATTENTION, AND
DEPENDING ON THE GOVERNMENT,
SOMETIMES THEY TRY TO FIX IT.
THERE ARE A LOT OF TRACES OF OUR
WORK EVEN IN THE NEW
GOVERNMENT'S ENVIRONMENT PLAN,
BUT WHAT WE'VE SAW IN THE LAST
THREE YEARS WAS REAL PROGRESS ON
A NUMBER OF NOT VERY SEXY BUT
IMPORTANT TOPICS.

Steve says AND I GUESS IT'S FAIR
TO SAY THAT YOU DON'T HAVE ANY
LEGAL AUTHORITY TO FORCE THEM TO
DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE MORAL
SUASION OF YOUR OFFICE, IS THAT
RIGHT?

Dianne says THAT'S RIGHT.
I HAVE A CAN OPENER AND A
FLASHLIGHT.

Steve says LET'S PEEL BACK THE
"BACK TO BASICS."
IT LOOKS AT THE STATE OF WATER.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT
HAVE CAUGHT YOUR ATTENTION, NAMELY...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Water concerns."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THE CLEANLINESS AND
SAFETY OF OUR WATER SOURCES,
SUCH AS LAKES, RIVERS AND
GROUNDWATER.
DRINKING WATER SOURCES SUCH AS
PRIVATE WELLS AND THOSE IN
NORTHERN AND INDIGENOUS RESERVE
COMMUNITIES.
POLLUTION THREATS TO MUNICIPAL
WATER SOURCES THAT INCLUDE RAW
MUNICIPAL SEWAGE, AGRICULTURAL
RUNOFF, TOXIC INDUSTRIAL WATER
AND ROAD SALT, AND AN EXAMPLE OF
THIS WOULD BE RAW SEWAGE
OVERFLOWING INTO SOUTHERN
ONTARIO WATERS MORE THAN 1300
TIMES FROM THE 2017-18 REPORTING
YEAR.
OKAY, LET'S GET INTO THIS.
WHAT IS PUTTING OUR WATER
SOURCES AT RISK?

The caption changes to "The state of our water."

Dianne says UMM, GOVERNMENT HAS FOR MANY
YEARS HAD A TOLERANCE, AN
AMAZING AND OBJECTIONABLE
TOLERANCE TO THESE LARGE
POLLUTANTS, AND YOU MENTIONED
SEWAGE, AGRICULTURAL RUNOFF,
INDUSTRIAL TOXICS AND SALT.
AND BETWEEN THEM, THEY HAVE BIG
GROWING LONG-LASTING ADVERSE
EFFECTS ON OUR LAKES AND RIVERS.

Steve says FOR EXAMPLE?

Dianne says WELL, FOR EXAMPLE YOU
MENTIONED THE 1327 OVERFLOWS OF
RAW SEWAGE.
I MEAN THESE HUMAN FECES, IT'S
VOMIT, IT'S BLOOD, IT'S URINE,
IT'S DOG POOP AND SOAP AND OILS
AND ALL OF THIS STUFF BEING
FLOWED TO FLOW INTO RIVERS AND
LAKES.

Dianne says WHICH ARE THE SOURCE OF OUR
DRINKING WATER.

Dianne says AND NOT JUST OUR DRINKING
WATER.
ANYTHING ELSE WE MIGHT LIKE TO
DO WITH OUR WATER, SWIMMING,
FISHING, EVERYTHING THAT LIVES
IN THE WATER AND DEPENDS ON THE
WATER, AND WE TREAT IT AS IF IT
DOESN'T MATTER.
WE PUT FILTH IN IT ALL THE TIME
BECAUSE IT'S CHEAPER TO BLOW IT
IN THE WATER.

Steve says HOW IS IT POSSIBLE IN
2018 WE STILL HAVE SEWAGE
FLOWING DIRECTLY INTO WATER?

Dianne says WELL, I THINK IT'S AMAZING
AND SHOULD ABSOLUTELY NOT BE
ALLOWED.
THERE'S 44 MUNICIPALITIES IN
ONTARIO FROM TORONTO TO MOONBEAM
WHO STILL HAVE COMBINED SEWER
SYSTEMS.
CLIMATE CHANGE IS MAKING THE
INTENSITY OF RAINFALL GREATER.
WE HAVE MORE RAIN, ESPECIALLY IN
THE WINTER NOW THAN WE EVER DID
BEFORE.
AND THAT TENDS TO OVERLOAD THE
SEWER SYSTEMS AND FLUSH THE
FILTH THAT COMES FROM OUR
TOILETS DIRECTLY INTO THE LAKES
AND RIVERS.
THE GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE
FOR ENFORCING THE ONTARIO WATER
RESOURCES ACT.
MUNICIPALITIES HAVE A DEFENCE IF
THEY ARE DOING EVERYTHING THEY
REASONABLY CAN TO PREVENT IT,
AND THEY ARE NOT, AND THE
PROVINCE ISN'T DOING ANYTHING TO
ENFORCE IT.

Steve says I PRESUME, THOUGH,
THAT IT WOULD COST MULTIPLE
BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO RETROFIT
OUR SEWAGE SYSTEMS SO WHEN WE
DID GET HEAVY RAINFALL WHAT YOU
JUST DESCRIBED WOULDN'T HAPPEN,
AND I BET THE TREASURERS AT CITY
HALL AND THE PROVINCIAL LEVEL
ARE ALL SAYING WE DON'T HAVE
THAT MONEY RIGHT NOW.

The caption changes to "Dianne Saxe, @Ont_ECO."

Dianne says THAT'S THE EXCUSE THEY ALWAYS
USE AND THAT'S BASED ON THE
ASSUMPTION THAT THE SOLUTION IS
TO BUILD HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF
DOLLARS OF CONCRETE.
THAT'S NOT THE ONLY SOLUTION.
WE SHOW A NUMBER OF THINGS THAT
CAN BE DONE.
THE FIRST THING PEOPLE SHOULD BE
DOING IS THEY SHOULD BE STORM
WATER FUNDING SO THAT EVERY
PROPERTY OWNER HAS A FINANCIAL
INCENTIVE TO KEEP THE WATER
WHERE IT FALLS.
THAT'S BEEN PROVEN TO WORK.
KITCHENER DOES IT.
MISSISSAUGA DOES IT.
MOST ONTARIO MUNICIPALITIES WITH
COMBINED SEWERS STILL DON'T, AND
SO THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY
TO RUN THEIR SEWAGE SYSTEMS
PROPERLY.
PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS ARE
ALLOWED TO DUMP ALL OF THE RAIN
DIRECTLY INTO THE SEWERS WHERE
IT FLOODS INTO OUR LAKES.
IT'S UNNECESSARY.
THERE'S A CLEAR AND
STRAIGHTFORWARD SOLUTION.
EVERY MUNICIPALITY CAN DO IT.
MOST OF THEM DON'T.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says DO YOU HAVE ANY REASON
TO BELIEVE THAT THE QUALITY OF
OUR DRINKING WATER IS BEING
AFFECTED BY THIS?

Dianne says SO NOT FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU
AND ME WHO GET OUR WATER FROM
MUNICIPALITIES.
MOST... ABOUT 4 fifths OF ONTARIANS
GET THEIR WATER FROM
MUNICIPALITIES.
PEOPLE ON PRIVATE WELLS OR WATER
INTAKES AND THE 3 percent INDIGENOUS
COMMUNITIES ARE PRETTY MUCH ON
THEIR OWN IN TERMS OF PROTECTING
THEIR WATER SOURCES.

Steve says AGRICULTURAL RUNOFF
THAT POLLUTES OUR WATER HAS BEEN
A PROBLEM FOR VERY LONG TIME.
WHY DO YOU THINK THERE'S BEEN NO
ACTION ON THAT ONE EITHER?

Dianne says WELL, IT'S VERY HARD TO
ANSWER WHY QUESTIONS.
YOU NEED TO ASK THE GOVERNMENT
THOSE, BUT WHAT I CAN TELL YOU
IS THERE HAS BEEN VERY LITTLE
EFFECTIVE ACTION OF THE
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT HANDS OUT
A LOT OF MONEY, BUT THEY DON'T
DO ANY COMPLIANCE CHECKING.
THEY DON'T DO ANY ENFORCEMENT.
THEY HAVEN'T BEEN DOING
MONITORING TO SEE IF ALL THE
MONEY THEY'RE HANDING OUT IS
HELPING.
AND IN ADDITION, ONE OF THE BIG
ISSUES IS THAT THE PROVINCE IS
ALLOWING THE CONTINUING
DESTRUCTION OF WETLANDS.
AND WHEN WE LOSE THE WETLANDS,
THERE'S NO PLACE FOR THE RAIN TO
GO WHEN IT COMES AND THAT TENDS
TO CAUSE EROSION, WASH MORE SOIL
INTO THE RIVERS AND THAT SOIL
CARRIES MORE NUTRIENTS WHICH
FEEDS MORE ALGAE.
CLIMATE CHANGE IS MAKING THE
LAKES AND RIVERS WARMER.

Steve says SHOULD FARMERS BE
DOING MORE?

Dianne says FARMERS SHOULD BE DOING MORE,
BUT THEY SHOULDN'T BE HAVING TO
PAY FOR IT ALL THEMSELVES.
WE HAVE A REAL UNBALANCE OF
COSTS AND BENEFITS.
A FARMER WHO PROTECTS A WETLAND
ON THEIR PROPERTY BEARS ALL THE
COST.
WE SHOULD HAVE A FAIR BALANCING
OF THE COST AND BENEFITS.

Steve says YOU MENTIONED THE
WETLANDS A COUPLE OF TIMES
THERE, SO LET'S GO INTO THAT
NOW, LET'S BRING UP BOARD TWO ON
THAT.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Wetlands and woodlands concerns. Impacts in Southern Ontario."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
SOUTHERN ONTARIO YOU TELL US, COMMISSIONER HAS LOST NEARLY
THREE QUARTERS OF ITS WETLANDS
IN TWO CENTURIES.
SOUTHERN ONTARIO WATERSHEDS
HAVE LESS THAN 30 percent OF THE
FOREST COVER NEEDED FOR
FUNCTIONAL ECOSYSTEMS.
SOME WATERSHEDS HAVE LESS THAN
10 percent AND SOME AS LITTLE AS 3 percent OF
WHAT IS NEEDED FOR THE HEALTH OF
OUR BIODIVERSITY.
THIS LOSS MEANS WE CAN'T
PROPERLY FILTER POLLUTANTS FROM
WATER, REDUCE FLOODING, PROTECT
AGAINST SOIL EROSION AND FILTER
OUR AIR.
HOW IS IT THAT WE HAVE LOST SO
MUCH OF THESE NATURAL
PROTECTIONS OVER THE YEARS?

The caption changes to "The state of our wetlands and woodlands."

Dianne says AND JUST FOR CLARITY, SOME OF THOSE STEPS ARE ABOUT WETLANDS
AND SOME WERE ABOUT WOODLANDS,
BUT THE AREA OF ONTARIO THAT IS
LEFT MOST NAKED IN THE FACE OF
STORMS IS SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO.
SO IF YOU LOOK AT ESSEX COUNTY,
FOR EXAMPLE, THE MINIMUM LEVEL
OF WETLANDS FOR SAFE
HYDROLOGICAL CYCLES IS ABOUT
10 percent.
ESSEX COUNTY IS DOWN TO ABOUT
1.5 percent.
NEXT TO THEM, THE CONSERVATION
AUTHORITY IS AT 0.1 percent.
THEY HAVE GIVEN UP 99 percent OF THE
WETLANDS, AND THAT'S A DIRECT
RESULT OF BAD GOVERNMENT POLICY.

Steve says WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO
TO STOP THE FURTHER EROSION OF
OUR WETLANDS?

Dianne says WELL, BASICALLY... THE FIRST THING IS THAT THE GOVERNMENT
DOESN'T GIVE WETLANDS ANY KIND
OF PROTECTION UNTIL THEY'VE BEEN
OFFICIALLY IDENTIFIED AS
SIGNIFICANT AND THEY'VE GOT A
260-YEAR BACKLOG IN GETTING
AROUND TO THAT.
AND EVEN THEN, THEY NEVER LOOK
AT THE LITTLE ONES WHICH ARE
VERY, VERY IMPORTANT AND BETTER
AT FILTERING OUT WATER
POLLUTANTS.
WE ALSO SEE THE GOVERNMENT
PROPOSING JUST YESTERDAY TO BLOW
YET MORE HOLES IN THE
PROTECTIONS WE DO HAVE FOR
NATURAL FEATURES, THE CLEAN
WATER ACT.
BASICALLY ALL THE ENVIRONMENTAL
PROTECTIONS THEY ARE APPARENTLY
GOING TO BLOW HOLES IN ALL OF
THEM NOW.

Steve says I PRESUME YOU'RE
REFERRING TO A NEW BILL JUST
INTRODUCED YESTERDAY.

Dianne says A NEW BILL JUST INTRODUCED
YESTERDAY.

Steve says WHICH ONE IS THAT?

Dianne says 56.

Steve says WHICH PROVIDES FOR WHAT?

Dianne says I HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO READ
IT IN DETAIL, BUT IT LOOKS AS
THOUGH ANY MUNICIPALITY WILL BE
ALLOWED TO SIMPLY ALLOW
DEVELOPERS TO IGNORE ALL THESE
PROVINCIAL LAWS THAT ARE
DESIGNED TO PROTECT THE NATURAL
WORLD.

Steve says CAN WE... I REMEMBER
WITH THE OZONE LAYER, AND THE
WORLD CAME TOGETHER, MONTREAL
PROTOCOL.
NOW THE OZONE LAYER IS BACK.
CAN WE REVERSE THE EROSION THAT
HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE?

Dianne says THE WINDOW IS VERY SMALL.
WE STILL HAVE TIME, BUT RIGHT
NOW ONTARIO'S GOING IN EXACTLY
THE WRONG DIRECTION ON
EVERYTHING THAT'S IMPORTANT.

Steve says HMM.
THE LOSS OF WOODLAND IS
THREATENING OUR NATURAL
WILDLIFE.
DO YOU HAVE A BALLPARK FIGURE AS
TO HOW MUCH OF THAT WILDLIFE HAS
BEEN AFFECTED SO FAR?

Dianne says ENORMOUSLY, BUT THE FIRST
THING IS WILDLIFE NEEDS A PLACE
TO LIVE.
AND AS WE CONTINUE TO DESTROY
THE WOODLANDS AND THE WETLANDS
THERE ISN'T ANY PLACE LEFT FOR
THEM TO LIVE, DESTROY THEM,
DEGRADE THEM AND SO ON, AND
BREAK THEM UP.
AGAIN, IF YOU LOOK AT
SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO, JUST A
DRAMATIC LOSS OF BOTH WOODLANDS
AND WETLANDS.
SO NO PLACE FOR THE WILDLIFE TO
LIVE.
NO PLACE TO HOLD THE WATER TO
PROTECT FROM FLOODING.
NO PLACE TO CLEAN THE WATER.
NO PLACE TO PROVIDE COOLING AS
WE GET THESE INCREASINGLY HOT
TEMPERATURES THAT CLIMATE CHANGE
IS BRINGING.
WE'VE GIVEN UP THE PROTECTIONS
THAT WE NEED, AND WE CONTINUE TO
DESTROY THEM.
IN FACT, THE MINISTRY OF
AGRICULTURE USES YOUR AND MY TAX
MONEY TO ACTIVELY SUBSIDIZE
WETLAND DESTRUCTION.

Steve says HMM.
IT WILL NOT HAVE ESCAPED YOUR
ATTENTION THAT LAST WEEK THE
MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT, WHAT'S
HIS NEW TITLE, CONSERVATION AND
PARKS BROUGHT OUT HIS NEW REPORT
FOR WHAT HE...

Dianne says HIS PLAN.

Steve says HIS PLAN, OKAY.
SHALL WE HEAR FROM HIM?
HE WAS IN THAT CHAIR EARLIER
THIS WEEK.
HERE'S ROD PHILLIPS.
SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "Rod Phillips. Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. December 4, 2018."
In the clip, Phillips talks in the studio.
He's in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair.

He says THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN
WHICH IS COMMONLY CALLED
ADAPTATION, BUT I LIKE TO TALK
ABOUT HELPING FAMILIES AND
COMMUNITIES PREPARE FOR CLIMATE
CHANGE AND DEAL WITH CLIMATE
CHANGE.
REALLY IS ABOUT A MUCH MORE
GRANULAR UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT
CLIMATE CHANGE MEANS.
AND SO PART OF THIS IS THE
ASSESSMENT, THE FIRST EVER
ASSESSMENT IN ONTARIO OF THE
ACTUAL IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
AND HELPING PEOPLE UNDERSTAND
THAT THROUGH VARIOUS TOOLS, BUT
ALSO, FRANKLY, A FAIR BIT OF
WORK THAT HAS TO BE DONE TO
DRIVE IT DOWN TO A COMMUNITY
LEVEL, AND THEN DEALING WITH
SOME VERY PRACTICAL MATTERS,
LIKE FLOODED BASEMENTS, LIKE
ERODING SHORELINES, THINGS THAT
PEOPLE RELATE TO AND UNDERSTAND
AND WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN.

Steve says THAT IS ONE OF THE THINGS
I'VE HEARD YOU DISCUSS
FREQUENTLY, IS WHEREAS THE
PREVIOUS LIBERAL GOVERNMENT MAY
HAVE BEEN TALKING UP HERE ABOUT
CLIMATE CHANGE, YOU'RE MORE DOWN
TO EARTH.

Phillips says DOING OUR BEST, YES.

The clip ends.

Steve says OKAY.
Dianne says DOING HIS BEST, AND HIS
REPORT COVERS EVERYTHING...
PLAN, SORRY, COVERS EVERYTHING
FROM CLIMATE CHANGE TO PICKING
UP LITTER.
YOU'VE HAD A CHANCE TO LOOK AT
HIS PLAN, I PRESUME.
ANY THOUGHTS?

The caption changes to "The politics of it all."

Dianne says WELL, THE PLAN HAS A NUMBER
OF GOOD ELEMENTS.
MANY OF THEM TAKEN FROM OUR
REPORTS TO DEAL WITH SMALL
THINGS.
IT'S GOOD TO DEAL WITH SMALL
THINGS, BUT IT DOESN'T MATTER
VERY MUCH UNLESS YOU GET THE BIG
THINGS RIGHT, AND THE PLAN GETS
THE BIG THINGS WRONG.
THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT
ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES, WHICH
ARE GOING TO OVERWHELM
EVERYTHING ELSE, ARE CLIMATE
POLLUTION AND THE COLLAPSE OF
BIODIVERSITY.
AND THE PLAN GOES FROM WEAK TO
NOTHING ON BOTH TARGETS AND
ACTION ON BOTH OF THOSE.

Steve says WELL, HE DOES SAY THAT
HE WILL HIT, THAT THE PROVINCE
OF ONTARIO WILL HIT THE
REQUIREMENTS OF THE PARIS
AGREEMENT BY THE DATE SPECIFIED
AND THAT WE ARE... I THINK HIS
ESTIMATE WAS 22 percent OF THE WAY
THERE ALREADY, SO ONLY 8 percent TO GO
TO HIT 30.

Dianne says WELL, FIRST OF ALL, IT'S
ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE TO SAY THAT
WHAT ONTARIO'S DOING IS GOING TO
MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE
PARIS AGREEMENT.
WHAT HE I THINK MEANS TO SAY IS
THAT CANADA GAVE AN INITIAL
COMMITMENT OF WHAT WE WOULD DO
BY 2030, WHICH WAS BASED ON
ONTARIO DOING WHAT WE WERE THEN
COMMITTED TO DO, AND THAT IF
ONTARIO ONLY DOES IT
PROPORTIONATE SHARE AND RELIES
ON THE REST OF THE COUNTRY TO DO
MUCH, MUCH, MUCH MORE THAN WE
ARE NOW GOING TO DO, THEN HE
SAYS, WELL, THEN CANADA CAN MEET
ITS INITIAL COMMITMENT WITHOUT
US.
ANYWAYS, THAT'S TOO COMPLICATED
FOR PEOPLE.
BOTTOM LINE IS THAT ONTARIO
IS... BY ONTARIO DROPPING WHAT
IT'S GOING TO DO BY 30
MEGATONNES, THE AMOUNT OF
EMISSIONS OF THREE WHOLE
PROVINCES, IT'S GOING TO MAKE IT
VERY, VERY, VERY DIFFICULT FOR
THE REST... FOR CANADA AS A
WHOLE TO MEET ITS COMMITMENT.
THERE ISN'T THE... THERE JUST
ISN'T THE CAPACITY IN OTHER
PROVINCES TO MAKE UP FOR WHAT
ONTARIO IS NOW REFUSING TO DO.

Steve says THE PREVIOUS
GOVERNMENT OBVIOUSLY HAD CAP AND
TRADE AS PART OF ITS SOLUTION.

Dianne says YES.

Steve says TO HITTING THOSE PARIS
AGREEMENTS.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS A
CARBON TAX IN PLACE AS PART OF
ITS STRATEGY FOR HITTING OUR
COMMITMENTS.
THIS GOVERNMENT OBVIOUSLY
DOESN'T LIKE EITHER ONE OF THOSE
OPTIONS.
IS THERE SOMETHING THEY OUGHT TO
BE DOING?
IF YOU DON'T LIKE CAP AND TRADE,
YOU DON'T LIKE CARBON TAX,
WHAT'S THE OTHER THING YOU COULD
BE DOING IN ORDER FOR US TO HIT
OUR MARKS?

Dianne says WELL, THE ECONOMIC NOBEL
PRIZE THIS YEAR WENT TO THE MAN
WHO PROVED THAT PUTTING A PRICE
ON CARBON IS THE CHEAPEST AND
BEST WAY OF DEALING WITH CARBON
POLLUTION.
AND IN FACT THE PROVINCIAL
GOVERNMENT DOES INTEND TO IMPOSE
A CARBON TAX ON THE INDUSTRY.
THEY JUST CALL IT SOMETHING
DIFFERENT, BUT IT'S STILL A
CARBON TAX.
BUT WHAT WE KNOW IS THE THINGS
THAT WORK, PRICING CARBON AND
CAP AND TRADE WAS WORKING REALLY
WELL IN ONTARIO.
INVESTING IN SOLUTIONS, WE CAN'T
DO THAT NOW BECAUSE WE'VE GIVEN
UP THE MONEY TO INVEST IN
SOLUTIONS FOR MOST THINGS.
AND A STRONG REGULATION.
SO THE GOVERNMENT IS IN THEIR
PLAN THEY'VE GOT A LOT OF THINGS
THAT THEY SAY ARE GOING TO HELP,
BUT MOST OF THEM THEY ARE NOT
DOING ANYTHING TO ACHIEVE.
THEY SAY WE'RE GOING TO HAVE
MORE ELECTRIC VEHICLES, BUT
THEY'RE NOT DOING ANYTHING TO
ACHIEVE THEM.
THEY ARE GOING TO INCREASE, THEY
SAY, ETHANOL REQUIREMENTS, WHICH
IS AN EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE WAY OF
REDUCING EMISSIONS.
IT HAS A VERY HIGH ENERGY COST,
SO INSTEAD OF CHOOSING A LESS
COSTLY THING THAT WORKS REALLY
WELL, THEY ARE CHOOSING A VERY
EXPENSIVE THING THAT DOESN'T
WORK VERY WELL.

Steve says HMM. I WANT TO ASK
YOU, COMMISSIONER, ABOUT YOU.
AND TO DO THAT, I'M GOING TO
QUOTE MARTIN REGG CONN WHO
WRITES FOR THE TORONTO STAR.
I'M SURE YOU SAW THE COLUMN...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Axe and sack." The quote reads "Ontario's independent environmental commissioner, Dianne Saxe, has decried the new climate proposal for being 'one-third as ambitious' as the cap-and-trade program it is replacing. Saxe exhorted the previous Liberal government to do better, and she has encouraged the Progressive Conservatives no less since they took power, but their response was to announce her position will be eliminated.
The Tories not only axed the tax, they sacked Saxe."
Quoted from Martin Regg Cohn, Toronto Star. November 30, 2018.

Steve says ARE YOU BEING FIRED?

Dianne says I DON'T KNOW.

Steve says THEY ARE ELIMINATING
YOUR POSITION, RIGHT?

Dianne says WELL, SORT OF.
THEY HAVE ELIMINATED THE
INDEPENDENCE OF MY OFFICE.
THEY HAVE STRIPPED AWAY A NUMBER
OF OUR POWERS.
THEY NOW EXPECT THE PUBLIC TO
RELY BLINDLY ON THE GOVERNMENT
TO ITSELF FULLY... THE
ENVIRONMENT BILL OF RIGHTS.

Steve says THEY SAY THAT THEY ARE
TAKING THE RESPONSIBILITIES THAT
YOU CURRENTLY HAVE AND ARE
MOVING THEM INTO THE AUDITOR
GENERAL'S DEPARTMENT AND THE
MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT.
DO YOU THINK EITHER OF THOSE TWO
INSTITUTIONS ARE CAPABLE OF
DOING WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOING?

Dianne says WELL, I DON'T THINK THAT THE
MINISTRY WILL BE EFFECTIVE IN
POLICING ITSELF.
I MEAN, IT'S LIKE, YOU KNOW, THE
FOX AND THE HENHOUSE.
IN TERMS OF THE AUDITOR
GENERAL'S OFFICE, SO THE...
UNTIL TWO DAYS AGO, THE BILL
SAID THAT ALL MY STAFF WERE
GOING TO BE MOVED INTO THE
AUDITOR GENERAL'S OFFICE.
THEY CHANGED THAT WEDNESDAY
NIGHT TO CRUSH THE UNION IN MY
OFFICE AND TO MAKE IT UNCERTAIN
WHO IF ANYBODY WILL GET A JOB
WITH THE AUDITOR GENERAL'S
OFFICE.
AND IN TERMS OF MYSELF, I DON'T
KNOW.
IT WILL BE UP... IT WILL BE UP
TO THE AUDITOR GENERAL TO SELECT
WHAT THEY ARE NOW GOING TO CALL
A COMMISSION FOR ENVIRONMENT,
AND I DON'T KNOW WHETHER THAT'S
GOING TO BE ME OR NOT.

Steve says SO THEORETICALLY THERE
WILL BE SOMEBODY WHO IS
RESPONSIBLE FOR HEADING UP
ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIONS,
AND IT COULD BE YOU, RIGHT?

Dianne says IT COULD.
IT COULD BE ME, AND WHAT I DON'T
KNOW IS THE VOICE THAT WE'VE
BEEN ABLE TO PROVIDE FOR
ONTARIANS, THE CLEAR ACCESS
WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO GIVE TO... OF
INFORMATION SO THAT PEOPLE DON'T
HAVE TO RELY BLINDLY ON THE
GOVERNMENT, WHICH FRANKLY
DOESN'T ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH ON
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, WE DON'T
KNOW HOW MUCH OF THAT IS GOING
TO SURVIVE.
WE HAVE BEEN REPORTING
SEPARATELY ON EACH OF THESE
ISSUES EVERY YEAR THOSE REPORTS
ARE MAJOR UNDERTAKINGS AND THEY
HAVE BEEN TREMENDOUSLY USEFUL TO
PEOPLE WHO ARE... WANT TO KNOW
THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON
IN ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND
CLIMATE.
NOW WE'RE TO BE LIMITED TO A
REPORT OR PART OF A REPORT A
YEAR UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE
AUDITOR GENERAL.
SO THERE ARE SOME WAYS IN WHICH
OUR MANDATE IS CONSISTENT WITH
THE MANDATE OF THE AUDITOR
GENERAL AND SOME WAYS IN WHICH
IT ISN'T.
HER JOB IS TO MEASURE GOVERNMENT
PERFORMANCE IN TERMS OF MONEY.

Steve says VALUE FOR MONEY AUDITS.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Dianne says WELL, MONEY, RIGHT?
IT'S ALL ABOUT MONEY.
OUR JOB IS ESSENTIALLY TO LOOK
AT AND SPEAK FOR THE ISSUES THAT
CANNOT BE AND ARE NOT MEASURED
IN TERMS PRIMARILY OF MONEY.
AND IN FACT, THE NATURAL WORLD
IS PRECISELY WHAT GETS
SACRIFICED, DEGRADED AND
OVERLOOKED WHEN ALL WE DO IS
MEASURE THINGS IN TERMS OF
MONEY.

Steve says DO YOU THINK YOU GOT
LEGISLATED OUT OF EXISTENCE
BECAUSE YOU'RE A PAIN IN THE
NECK TO THEM?

Dianne says YES.

Steve says YOU DO?
ANYBODY TOLD YOU THAT?

Dianne says NO.

Steve says HOW DID YOU FIND OUT?

Dianne says I DIDN'T FIND OUT.
IT JUST SEEMS LIKE A REASONABLE
INFERENCE.

Dianne says NO, I MEAN HOW DID YOU FIND
OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE YOUR
OFFICE WAS BEING DONE AWAY WITH?

Dianne says THE CBC CALLED ME.

Steve says SO YOU WEREN'T TOLD BY
ANYBODY DIRECTLY IN GOVERNMENT?

Dianne says CORRECT.
THEY STILL WON'T TELL ME WHEN
THE GUILLOTINE IS GOING TO
OCCUR.

Steve says HAVE YOU HAD A MEETING
WITH ANYBODY EITHER IN THE
PREMIER'S OFFICE OR THE
ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY TO TALK
ABOUT THIS?

Dianne says I HAVE MET WITH THE MINISTER
AND HE WOULD NOT PROVIDE ME ANY
INFORMATION.

Steve says WHAT?

Dianne says I ASKED HIM SPECIFICALLY WHEN
IS THIS GOING TO HAPPEN TO US.
I ASKED HIM TO PUT INTO THE
LEGISLATION WHAT HE SAID IN
PUBLIC, THAT WE WOULD HAVE OUR
INDEPENDENCE GUARANTEED.
THAT ISN'T WHAT HAPPENED.
AND I STILL DON'T KNOW WHEN THE
MAGIC DATE IS.

Steve says WAS THAT A
FACE-TO-FACE CONVERSATION?

Dianne says YES.

Steve says IT WAS?

Dianne says YES.

Dianne says HOW DID THE CONVERSATION END?

Dianne says I THANKED HIM AND I LEFT.

Steve says HMM.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL BILL OF
RIGHTS, WHICH YOU HAVE THERE ON
THE DESK, TURNS 25 NEXT YEAR.
IT'S BEEN AROUND FOR A QUARTER
CENTURY.
WHAT KIND OF A DIFFERENCE DO YOU
THINK IT HAS MADE IN THE LIVES
OF ONTARIANS?

Dianne says IT'S MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
IT'S MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN
BRINGING INFORMATION TO THE
PUBLIC SO THAT THEY KNOW WHAT
THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING.
IT'S MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN
BRINGING INFORMATION TO THE
GOVERNMENT BECAUSE VERY OFTEN
CIVIL SERVANTS, MANY, MANY
EXCELLENT CIVIL SERVANTS, BUT
THEY DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING, AND
ESPECIALLY AS BUDGETS ARE CUT
AND THEY SPEND MORE AND MORE
TIME AT THEIR DESK AND THEY
DON'T GET OUT INTO THE
ENVIRONMENT, THEY DON'T KNOW
WHAT THE PEOPLE IN RED LAKE AND
LISTOWEL AND DRESDEN SEE EVERY
DAY.
SO THE GOVERNMENT MAKES MUCH
BETTER DECISIONS WHEN THE PEOPLE
OF THE PROVINCE HAVE A CHANCE TO
HAVE THEIR VOICE.
ALSO THE WORK OF OUR OFFICE HAS
SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED
GOVERNMENT COMPLIANCE WITH THE
EBR, AND WE KNOW THAT WAVE MADE
A CONSIDERABLE DIFFERENCE TO
BRING ATTENTION TO ISSUES THAT
HAVE BEEN OVERLOOKED AND VERY
OFTEN THE GOVERNMENT IS TAKING
ACTION AS A RESULT OF OUR
ADVICE.
THERE'S A VERY, VERY SIMPLE
EXAMPLE.
MUNICIPALITIES SPEND BILLIONS OF
DOLLARS ON INFRASTRUCTURE.
THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN REQUIRED
TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS ON
WHATEVER IS THE CHEAPEST TO
BUILD.
WHEN YOU BUILD ONLY FOR THE
CHEAPEST TO BUILD, YOU BUILD
THINGS THAT HAVE HUGE OPERATING
COSTS, HUGE ENERGY COSTS, BUT
ARE CHEAP TO BUILD IN THE FIRST
PLACE.
THROUGH OUR WORK, THAT ROLE HAS
CHANGED SO THAT NOW
MUNICIPALITIES ARE GOING TO BE
AUTHORIZED AND REQUIRED TO
CONSIDER OPERATING AND ENERGY
COSTS WHEN THEY DECIDE WHAT TO
BUILD.
OVER TIME THAT CAN MAKE AN
ENORMOUS DIFFERENCE IN WHAT IT
COSTS US ALL TO RUN GOVERNMENT,
AS WELL AS THE ENVIRONMENTAL
DAMAGE THAT WE DO.
THAT'S JUST ONE OF MANY
EXAMPLES.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU THINK IS
THE PHILOSOPHY THAT IS
UNDERPINNING THE CURRENT
GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO'S APPROACH
TO THE ENVIRONMENT?

Dianne says THAT'S SORT OF A VERSION OF
WHY ARE THEY DOING WHAT THEY'RE
DOING, AND I CAN'T ANSWER WHY
QUESTIONS.
I CAN TELL YOU WHAT THE IMPACT
IS, AND THE IMPACT IS WE ARE ALL
GOING TO BE MUCH POORER IN TERMS
OF EVERYTHING IN THE NATURAL
WORLD THAT WE CARE ABOUT, AND
CLIMATE CHANGE IS ALREADY DOING
ENORMOUS DAMAGE TO ONTARIANS.
WE HAD 1.2 BILLION DOLLARS IN
JUST INSURED LOSSES FROM EXTREME
WEATHER EVENTS IN ONTARIO JUST
IN THE FIRST NINE MONTHS OF THIS
YEAR.
THAT COSTS PEOPLE MUCH MORE THAN
CAP AND TRADE EVER COST US, AND
WE'RE NOW ON TRACK TO SEE IT GET
MUCH WORSE.
ONTARIO IS WARMING MUCH FASTER
THAN THE WORLD AVERAGE.
DID YOU KNOW TORONTO HAS ALREADY
WARMED THREE TIMES AS MUCH AS
THE WORLD AVERAGE?

Steve says NO.

Dianne says WE HAVE ANOTHER 2.5 TO 4 degrees
WE'RE EXPECTED IN THE NEXT
DECADES, AND THE TRACK WE'RE ON
IS GOING TO MAKE THINGS MUCH
WORSE.
THAT WILL OVERWHELM EVERYTHING.

Steve says OKAY.
LET'S FINISH UP ON THIS, AND
YOU'RE NOT EXPECTING THIS
QUESTION, SO THIS IS GOING TO BE
DIFFERENT.
AND YOU'VE BEEN HERE A FEW
TIMES, AND I'VE NEVER ASKED YOU
ABOUT THIS BEFORE.
BUT I WANT TO THIS TIME, OKAY?
PEOPLE OF A CERTAIN AGE WILL
REMEMBER WHO YOUR DAD WAS.

Dianne says ONLY PEOPLE OF A CERTAIN AGE.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Steve says YOUR DAD WAS MORTON
SHULMAN WHO DID ON CITY TV THE
SHULMAN FILE.
HE WAS A NEW DEMOCRATIC MEMBER
OF THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE, A
CORONER IN ONTARIO, AND MANY
THAN ANY OF THOSE THINGS, HE WAS
A GUY WHO GAVE THEM HELL, RIGHT?
HE JUST DID NOT TAKE ANY CRAP
FROM ANYBODY ANY TIME.
AND HE WAS A... WELL, HE JUST
STORMED THE BARRICADES FOR DOING
THE RIGHT THING ALL THE TIME.
IF HE WERE ALIVE TODAY, WHAT
WOULD HE... WHAT WOULD HIS
APPROACH, WHAT WOULD HIS ADVICE
BE TO YOU ON HOW TO HANDLE
WHAT'S GOING ON RIGHT NOW?

A black and white picture shows a young, clean-shaven man in a suit smiling as he stands on a stage behind a lectern.

Dianne says HE WOULD REMIND ME THAT IT'S
ALMOST EXACTLY 50 YEARS SINCE
THE CONSERVATIVES FIRED HIM
BECAUSE HE WAS MAKING PUBLIC...
HE ORDERED AN INQUEST INTO A
FIRE-PROOF HOSPITAL THAT THE
CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT WAS VERY
PROUD OF, WHICH CAUGHT FIRE AND
KILLED SOMEBODY.
AND THEY TRIED TO PREVENT HIM
FROM HOLDING THAT INQUEST.
SO HE REVOLTED.
HE THOUGHT THE PUBLIC DESERVED
TO KNOW, AND SO THEY FIRED HIM.
SO I THINK HE WOULD BE VERY
PROUD OF ME.

Steve says THEY FIRED HIM, AND HE
GOT HIS REVENGE, BECAUSE HE RAN
FOR THE LEGISLATURE AND WON A
SEAT AFTER THAT AND MADE THEIR
LIFE EVEN MORE HECTIC.

Dianne says WELL, I THINK MORE TO THE
POINT IS THE RULES WERE CHANGED
SO THAT...

Steve says THAT TOO.

Dianne says SO NOBODY ELSE BURNED TO
DEATH IN A HOSPITAL.

Steve says THAT TOO, THAT TOO.

Dianne says WOULDN'T YOU LIKE TO GO TO
THE HOSPITAL AND NOT BE BURNED
TO DEATH?

Dianne says YES.

Dianne says WELL, HE HELPED WITH THAT.

Steve says OKAY. IS THAT OKAY TO
ASK ABOUT THAT?

Dianne says IT IS ABSOLUTELY FINE.
I'M VERY PROUD OF HIM.

The caption changes to "Producer: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas."

Steve says OKAY.
THAT'S DIANNE SAXE.
AT LEAST TODAY THE ENVIRONMENTAL
COMMISSIONER OF ONTARIO AND
WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WEEK
AND THEREAFTER. THANKS AGAIN FOR
YOUR VISITS TO TVO.

Dianne says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Watch: Our Environmental Guardian