Author: Paul Morden, Post Media
Ontario Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe is set to lead a discussion in Sarnia Oct. 3 about her 2018 greenhouse gas progress report.
Mary Jean O’Donnell, one of the organizers of Sarnia’s Green Drinks monthly gathering and discussion group, said they were approached by the commissioner’s office about hosting an appearance.
“We were quite lucky.”
Saxe is scheduled to travel through Sarnia to Flint, Michigan to speak at a conference of the American Society of Environmental Journalists, O’Donnell said.
She was looking for an opportunity to speak to an audience in Sarnia and a member of her staff happens to attend Green Drinks in Toronto.
“He just looked up Green Drinks and found us,” O’Donnell said.
Green Drinks is an international organization that began in England in 1989 at a pub where environment-minded folks gathered.
Its format of regular environmental discussions spread to other countries and three years ago a group in Sarnia began organizing monthly Green Drinks meetings in Sarnia.
They are normally held on the second Wednesday of each month at 100 Christina St. N., but the upcoming session was moved to Oct. 3, 7 p.m., to accommodate the commissioner’s trip to Michigan.
“She wanted to reach out and do something a little bit different,” O’Donnell said.
“We do have a fairly diverse crowd.”
Saxe was appointed commissioner in December 2015 after working 40 years in environmental law.
Ontario’s environmental commissioner is an independent officer of the provincial legislature, appointed to be an environmental watch dog by an all-party committee.
Admission is free at the monthly Green Drinks discussions and attendance can range from 20 to 50 or more, depending on the topic.
“If we do something agricultural, all the ag people come out,” O’Donnell said.
“If we do something about nature, then the nature people come out.”
There are also regulars who attend many of the sessions.
“I’m going to assume this one will have pretty large appeal,” O’Donnell said.
The office of the environmental commissioner said this week’s report will provide the latest information about greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario, impacts of climate change on Ontario residents and communities, as well as impacts of recent government changes and recommendations for a new climate change law and plan for the province.
“The only thing we ask is that you bring an open mind and a happy heart,” O’Donnell said about the Green Drinks sessions.
“Our primary goal is to allow a space where everybody can be heard,” she added.
Saxe is an environmental law specialist who began her career with the Ontario public service and two Bay Street law firms before establishing an environmental law firm.
She’s also a canoeist, kayaker and cross-country skier, according to her biography on the commission’s website.
IF YOU GO
What: Dianne Saxe, Ontario’s environmental commissioner, will lead an upcoming Sarnia Green Drinks discussion.
Where: 100 Christina St. N., Sarnia.
When: Oct. 3. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the discussion begins at 7 p.m.
Details: Admission is free.