NGOs plan web 'blackout' to protest Canadian government attacks on nature and democracy

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Eleven environmental organizations have announced a ‘Black Out Speak Out’ campaign to counter Canadian government efforts to silence opponents of its anti-nature policies

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This news release was issued on May 7, 2012, by CPAWS, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Equiterre, Environmental Defence, Greenpeace, Nature Canada, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, and WWF Canada.

The federal government’s attack on nature and democracy means “silence is not an option” for Canadians according to a national campaign, being launched Monday, May 7, by the country’s leading environmental organizations.

“These changes — hidden in a budget bill in the hopes that Canadians wouldn’t notice — are threatening the core values all Canadians hold dear: nature and democracy,” said Sidney Ribaux, executive director of Equiterre. “We are compelled to speak out and we’re inviting Canadians from all walks of life to join us.”

Known as Black Out Speak Out (or Silence, on parle!, in French) the campaign will invite 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).

The government is putting the future of our land, water and climate at risk with the recent federal budget implementation bill. Over a third of the budget is dedicated to weakening Canada’s most important environmental laws, including measures to make it more difficult for environmental charities to participate in the public policy process. The groups are asking Canadians to join them in speaking out and letting the government know that silence is not an option for those who care about what could be lost.

“The attacks on environmental charities and gutting of environmental review processes aim to silence Canadians of all sectors and many backgrounds who participate in decision-making about large-scale industrial developments,” said Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation. “This is not only undemocratic — it will undermine the government’s ability to make sound policy decisions and to protect the environment.”

“Powerful oil interests aren’t just changing the rules — they’re disqualifying any player not on their team,” said Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence. “We’re going black for a day, but we’ll be speaking out for as long as it takes.”

The budget bill, C-38, replaces the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, empowers the federal government to crack down on charities, including environmental groups, that advocate for better laws and policies, overrides National Energy Board decisions, rushes projects through a weakened environmental review process to speed up approvals, and shuts citizen groups out of environmental reviews for pipelines.

Black Out Speak Out begins Monday with full-page ads in the Globe and MailLa Presse and Ottawa’s Hill Times. It also includes a website, 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 CPAWS, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Equiterre, Environmental Defence, Greenpeace, Nature Canada, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, and WWF Canada.

Canadians wishing to support the campaign can sign up at or (français).


  • I applaud the initiative and hope the coalition expands and generates a nation-wide, multifaceted movement capable of bringing down the Harper government in 2015.

    If it is to succeed, coalition members leading the steering team will almost certainly have to upgrade their knowledge and skill set in order to be capable of creating an effective, grassroots, multidimensional, national, counterpower movement. 

    For starters, they could learn a thing or two about successful movement-building and strategic planning from the Occupy Movement and the Quebec students’ Maple Spring.

    As well, I recommend two excellent skill-building resources: “Rebuild the Dream”, by Van Jones. His book (and website) is a strategy and action centre that “is rapidly emerging as a major force in the fight to rescue America’s middle class.” While the circumstances between the US and Canada may differ, there is still much to learn from Jones’ multifaceted “Grid” planning model. As Jones says: “Maybe we [progressives] are the ignorant ones. Maybe we lack some important insights into the way change actually works…”

    The other book worth a look is Tim Gee’s Counterpower: Making Change Happen. For an overview, see my post, “Counterpower” by Tim Gee – Pt 10: One-stop link to previous posts in this series, and more. 

    • I was kinda hoping we wouldn’t have to wait for the 2015 elections to bring Harper down. If we build a bi-nation-wide, multifaceted movement big enough, we could oust the government even sooner.