Photo: Black out to speak out on June 4

The proposed changes to Canada's laws will weaken environmental rules and silence land and business owners, First Nations, taxpayers, scientists, charities and others who wish to defend the environment. (Credit: Jonathan Crowe via Flickr)

By Peter Robinson, CEO, David Suzuki Foundation

Over the past few months, the environmental laws that protect our nation's extraordinary natural legacy — our air, water, land and the web of life — have been gutted. At the same time, those who want to protect this natural legacy have been the targets of an unprecedented and organized effort to discredit, disenfranchise and silence their voices.

On March 29, Canada's federal government went a step further and put its money where its mouth is. Rather than following the usual process for changing our laws, which allows for thorough debate by our elected representatives, the government has buried a rewrite of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in a massive omnibus budget bill, C-38.

Sign up for our newsletter

Bill C-38 effectively allows the federal government to crack down on charities, including environmental groups, that advocate for better laws and policies; override National Energy Board decisions; "streamline" environmental reviews to speed up approvals; and, perhaps most disturbingly, shut citizen groups out of environmental reviews.

The attacks on environmental charities and gutting of environmental review processes aim to silence many who participate in decision-making on large-scale industrial developments. This move is not only undemocratic; it will also undermine the government's ability to make sound policy decisions and protect the environment.

The proposed changes to Canada's laws will weaken environmental rules and silence land and business owners, First Nations, taxpayers, scientists, charities and others who wish to defend the environment.

The future of our land, water and climate is at risk. And so are the voices of Canadians. Silence is not an option for Canadians who care about the protection of nature and democratic discussion.

That's why Canada's leading environmental organizations are working together to defend the right of Canadians who care about the protection of nature and democratic discussion to have their voices heard.

Our campaign — Black Out Speak Out (or Silence, on parle! in French) — invites organizations, businesses and citizens from across Canada to darken their websites on Black Out Monday, June 4, and speak out against Bill C-38. Over the next four weeks, environmental groups will build support for the campaign, inviting other organizations, community and social justice groups, and individuals from across Canada to join them in expressing their concern about the erosion of core Canadian values.

Participating environmental organizations include the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Sierra Club of Canada, Pembina Institute, Nature Canada, Ecojustice and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada.

We're going black for a day, but we'll be speaking out for as long as it takes. Please join us on June 4, 2012. To get involved, visit ( en français) and make your voice heard, too.

Take part in Black Out Speak Out

May 7, 2012

Read more

Post a comment


Jun 06, 2012
12:02 PM

David (Suzuki),

I spoke with my MP today (Progressive Conservative) about Bill C-38. He is/was clearly irritated by "radical" debate from you and your organization — which you are no longer part of (my MP actually claimed David was "kicked out" of the Charity). He positioned his party's intentions as just finishing 20 years of debate around this Bill and that the PCs are simply leveling the playing ground for charities — my interpretation is that he felt this Bill should not be a surprise to TSF and that it is not targeted at you. He believed strongly that TSF and other "radical" environmentalists would never be satisfied with anything less than Canada being a large Park. He didn't go so far as to say, "without industry", but he did comment that we'd be biking everywhere and not having heated homes. I'm curious how far "radical" environmentalists would actually go? Is a "large park" your vision/our vision/my vision? Or is it simply saving this planet and my MPs great grandchildren. I reminded my MP that "environmental radicalism" is advocating for his families health, not just their own little possy. I could not convince my MP (I live in Oshawa, fill in the blank with name if you like) to reflect on the simple truth to David Suzuki's lifetime pursuit — respecting earth — not "our" earth, just earth. He'd have none of it, not a moments hesitation, just further debate about the strong track record of environmental "action" versus environmental "talk" our country received from the "The Previous Government" (The Liberals). One of the highlights (if you're sick enough to see it this way) was his story about the oil pipeline running from Alberta to Sarnia. I mentioned oil spills, he reworded it as "oil leakage" and then went on to say that oil is a natural substance and if spilled the earth works it out. I wanted to put this in perspective for him and was about to ask if he (my MP) would build a home for his family beside or in an oil spill — he could go nude in the crude. I thought it wouldn't get me anywhere so I listened more — he did a lot of talking, you know how people with a bad conscience feel compelled to explain themselves to no end.

My MP also went on about David's history of radical views, campaigns and methods. I don't think "radical" for good is a bad thing, in fact it's the only way to get heard. Clearly, the PCs like quiet advocacy no one hears, so they can claim they didn't know any better from Canadians. To PCs, ignorance alone isn't bliss, they want total silence.

I should give him credit where credit is due, he called me back in between sessions at Parliament Hill and was gracious and respectful of us not agreeing on this country's environmental agenda/advances. I urged my MP reflect on the conviction and intentions of "radical" environmentalism and the fact that they are protecting him, his family and our country.

Progressive Conservatives need to listen to the environmental movement, the conscience of this country — perhaps even of this earth, maybe even God. Economic progress is not success. Sustainability is success. It trumps everything else. Yet I find it's the "radical" few who have a voice that gets heard.

I'm very much looking forward to hearing comments.

Jun 05, 2012
2:32 PM

David: Your speech yesterday on CBC radio, your outrage at Harper's new Bill to silence those who feel responsibility to protect the environment alongside development for future generations was so full of passion and fire, I cried while cheering you on. It is the first time that I have heard this voice from you and I like it a lot. David, with that voice you can take us far — all the way into the disruption of parliament which is where we may need to go. I have always seen you as a teacher, an advocate but never the scrappy fighter I heard yestyerday. You said "I am at the end of my life" well so am I, more or less, and I say David please leave with a bang of roaring thunder, but not yet. With that thunderous call to arms you can lead the charge the change will need.

May 23, 2012
7:41 PM

I live in Ottawa. Will there be a protest on Parliament Hill on June 4? If nothing is organized yet, anyone interested in joining me to protest on that day?

May 15, 2012
1:26 PM

how can i get involved and educate others?

May 14, 2012
1:42 PM

what the government is doing is wrong, and something needa to be done but i think we need a different out-look on what we should do you make the idiots realize there slowly destroying us…

May 12, 2012
11:35 AM

That the government would do this is no surprise, but i do not think that blacking out websites for a day will help anything but i do agree something must be done. Here is my notice to the government, you may lie cheat and steal if you wish but in the end i have something you will never get, MY VOTE. When the next election comes my vote will be cast for the party that works with and to save the enviroment and see a greener future. I urge everyone to remember, the government is voted in and we can vote them out, they apparently don't remember that. I dont appreciate the government changing the rules to suit their own needs in order for a few rich companies to earn more profit at the expense of our country.

May 12, 2012
9:23 AM

Perhaps, given all we know about the current Harper regime, and, yes, due to the so called "parliamentary privilege" that protects civil lawsuits against politicians,the only real answer to our current lack of reasonable and just governing is to use our voting power and reelect new leaders. Leaders that truly get the concept that numbers and the environment are interconnected.

May 11, 2012
12:21 PM

I think we need a national day of protest in all of the major cities in Canada. This would make much more of an impact on the federal government.

May 09, 2012
2:57 PM

Happy to support the blackout, this proposed bill is incredibly damaging. What else should we be doing? Maby we need stronger medicine?

May 07, 2012
8:18 PM

A web page blackout campaign for a non-internet related issue is a nonsense. I fully support the objectives of the campaign though.

May 07, 2012
7:58 PM

Stand and deliver our unhealthy Generations A less poisioned surrounding environment by fighting high living standards . Health feels a lot better than a Car or a House. Take those Limos away from the envirionmently unfriendly Ministers lest our polluted minded Parliamentarians have a fresh air break and clear their heads and thoughts ! Your Children's Lifespan is in the future at Grave risk never mind all the afflictions we have laid up our nose, down our throats, through our airpipipes and pores and icorporated into our cells ! Once you feel the difference you will never need The so called Amer- Canadian dream ever again. Smell the new attraction !

May 07, 2012
5:15 PM

It is sad that this government continues to ignore what is sacred to our heritage

May 07, 2012
1:46 PM

I support the initiative 100%. However, think about this: "land and business owners, First Nations, taxpayers, scientists, charities and others who wish to defend the environment". The above are the players in this equation. Pretty powerful players. I would say the majority. Think of something a bit stronger than just a black out day. The majority is power. Play those cards people. Im tired of it, tired of letting the big guys rule over the great majority. Do something more than a black out day. Think

May 07, 2012
1:31 PM

We must fight to protect our land, air and water from those who would destroy and poison it for short term profits. It is our duty as citizens of this great earth to ensure that clean water, air and land are available for future generations to enjoy. Bravo to the brave envirmonmental groups who have banned together for this, the greatest cause of our generation.

May 07, 2012
10:36 AM

I am shocked and appalled by this government, and so glad everyone is joining forces to speak up! I feel a bit left out of your campaign though, as I do not have a website that I can black-out! Can you not encourage everyone to wear black in support of your campaign so that all individuals can show their individual disappointment with this government's Bill C-38?. Wearing black will show the government just how many individuals oppose their war on the environment and democracy!!!! I seriously encourage you to make wearing black part of your campaign!!

The David Suzuki Foundation does not necessarily endorse the comments or views posted within this forum. All contributors acknowledge DSF's right to remove product/service endorsements and refuse publication of comments deemed to be offensive or that contravene our operating principles as a charitable organization. Please note that all comments are pre-moderated. Privacy Policy »