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.
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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 blackoutspeakout.ca (silenceonparle.ca en français) and make your voice heard, too.