Some of the Internet’s most popular nature conservancy websites today are blacking out in protest of the Harper Government’s proposed bill C-38. Claiming the bill is an attack on democracy and nature, over 500 organizations are participating in the Internet blackout.
Speculated to be introduced from pressures from the oil industry, Bill C-38 is set to replace the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, allow the federal government a heavier hand when auditing charities, overrides National Energy Board decisions, and creates a weakened environmental review process when approving new projects.
The Black Out Speak Out campaign was launched on May 7th in an effort to get the word out about bill C-38 and has grown its support to include non-profit organizations, social justice organizations, trade unions, First Nations, scientists, businesses and more. The campaign is coming to a head today with the launch of its Internet blackout in hopes to raise awareness and action encouraging Canadians to speak out through online petitions, via email and on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
"The darkening of web sites and the thousands of letters, blogs, tweets and other actions by landowners, businesses, First Nations, trade unions, scientists and citizens, reflect the grave concern and deep frustration Canadians feel about the direction the federal government is heading," said Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada. "Fundamental human rights such as Freedom of Expression are at stake."
“A big reason why there’s such a rush is oil interests at play. Working in close coordination with oil company lobbyists and industry front groups, the Harper government is attempting to silence public interest groups – all the while working to rollback longstanding Canadian environmental protections, slash environmental enforcement, and eliminate independent oversight of the environmental decision-making process,” said an official statement by the Sierra Club, 350.org and the NDRC.
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Participating groups in the Black Out Speak Out campaign include Oxfam, Amnesty International, and the Canadian Labour Congress. The Black Out Speak Out Campaign was started by the following leading environmental organizations: Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Environmental Defense, Equiterre, Greenpeace, Nature Canada, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, West Coast Environmental Law and WWF Canada.
"Today, hundreds of organizations and individuals -- representing millions of citizens -- are speaking out in support of two core Canadian values: the protection of nature and democratic discussion," said scientist and activist Dr. David Suzuki. "These values are the foundation of the peace, order and good government that define our nation, yet they are threatened by the federal government's omnibus budget bill, C-38."