Groups agree that silence not an option as attacks on nature and democracy continue
TORONTO, ON — Every day, more Canadians and organizations stand with environmental groups against the federal government's attacks on nature and democracy.
In the two weeks since Black Out Speak Out was launched by Canada's leading environmental groups, the campaign has seen more than 13,000 people and over 100 groups sign up to speak out on June 4.
"The insult to charities is an insult to half the Canadian population — both those who donate their time and those who donate their money, in an attempt to help others," said iconic Canadian author, Margaret Atwood. "Taxpayers' money should not be wasted in smear campaigns and in multi-auditing organizations they don't like in a blatant attempt to pester them into oblivion. Whatever your political affiliations, if you believe in free and open democracy, now is the time to speak out."
Margaret Atwood is one of hundreds of individuals, companies and organizations that plan to darken their websites on June 4 in a symbolic protest of the recent attacks on charities and federal environmental laws that were outlined in the federal budget bill, C-38.
"I don't agree with much of what these groups say, but I firmly believe in their right to freely express their views," said Gerry Nicholls, former vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition. "For the government to restrict free expression is wrong; democracy is better served when more voices are heard."
Voices are being heard, too. A diverse list of people and organizations have signed on, including Oxfam Canada, Kairos, Modrobes Inc., Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Voices-Voix Coalition, Mining Watch Canada, the United Steelworkers, Project Democracy, the Broadbent Institute, Lead Now, and Ontario Environmental Network. [For a full list of partners, visit http://blackoutspeakout.ca/partners.php]
"This budget bill is just another step in a wider crack-down on dissenting voices," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director for Canada. "This government wants to pass laws—including one aimed at trade unions—that directly target voices it doesn't like."
"We see all around the world what happens when public debate is stifled and dissenting voices are intimidated," said Oxfam Canada executive director Robert Fox. "In Canada when some charities are targeted, all feel threatened and everyone loses out."
"Few have been, and still are, censored more than the lesbian and gay community. And charities that serve us often deal with controversial social issues. We're Canada's largest and leading gay and lesbian media group and we're proud to be involved. Charities have the right to say things some people don't like," said Gareth Kirkby, director of engagement for Pink Triangle Press (Xtra).
"Canadians deserve a government committed to a clean future and a safe climate for our children and grandchildren, not a government that is at the beck and call of big oil," said Hannah McKinnon of the Climate Action Network. "We are speaking out because it is time for all Canadians to demand a government that works for people and not polluters."
Launched on May 7, Black Out Speak Out (or Silence, on parle!, in French) invites organizations, businesses and citizens from across Canada to darken their websites on June 4, and speak out against changes introduced in the federal government's budget act (C-38) by darkening their websites and taking other actions on June 4.
Black Out Speak Out is a joint project of CAPE, CPAWS, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Greenpeace, Nature Canada, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, and WWF Canada.
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For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:
Stephanie Kohls, Communications Director, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 647-280-9521 (cell); email@example.com