There is something refreshing about meeting with non-partisan employees of the Legislature. Perhaps it is the awareness that they are not bound by a political agenda, nor are they concerned with being reelected or getting the upper hand on opposing parties. Rather, they are purely focused on doing their job and doing it well. Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner, spoke to us candidly, honestly, and with a clear passion for environmental issues. Having met primarily with individuals who have studied politics or business thus far, it was enjoyably different meeting with someone who comes from a background of science. He discussed a range of interesting and important issues with us, including wind energy, the green bin program and the inexplicable disappearance of bees in North America.
Of particular interest to me was the “request for review” program which the Commissioner manages – a policy that allows for any Ontarian to encourage governmental review of a certain bill or piece of legislation if they are concerned with its potentially harmful implications for the environment. Such practices that allow for citizens to influence political discourse, and drive an issue up the government’s agenda, play an important part in keeping the population involved and aware. Moreover, the “whistleblower protection” role of the Environmental Commissioner was also interesting and clearly of great importance, as this function serves as a deterrent for companies’ use of intimidation against whistleblowers. With the Commissioner’s annual report set to be released less than a week after our meeting, I look forward to reading his recommendations and seeing how the government, media, and public react.