Hundreds of Canadian Websites Go Dark To Protest Government's Treatment of Environmental Charities

Black Out Speak Out/CC BY 2.0

As dysfunctional as the American political system appears to be right now, it at least provides some checks and balances to unlimited power. In a parliamentary system like Canada's, if a government is in power long enough to pack the Senate and the Supreme Court and gets a majority government, it can pretty much do what it wants. Now that Stephen Harper has his majority (earned with only 39% of the vote, but that's what happens with a first-past-the-post system and a Liberal party meltdown) he is doing exactly what he wants.

TreeHugger has written before about how ForestEthics Declared "Enemy of the People of Canada" for Criticism of Oil Sands Projects; Now, according to Black Out Speak Out,

Charities are being targeted. The government is adding $8 million in new funding for the Canada Revenue Agency to audit charities like environmental groups in spite of the fact they have simply exercised their legal right to advocate for things like laws to fight global warming. This will have a chilling effect on democratic debate. What's more, under these new laws, citizen groups will likely be shut out of environmental reviews of big projects like oil pipelines. Key government agencies with expertise will also have less input. Well-funded backroom lobbyists and political operatives will have greater influence.

Laws are being changed to eliminate oversight, to reduce the ability of citizens and native peoples to protest and possibly delay projects.

Nature is being put at serious risk. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is being replaced with a totally new law. Under it, Ottawa will play a much smaller role in protecting people from harmful projects, while retaining the right to basically rubber-stamp big projects that powerful oil interests want. And the new weaker rules are being applied to review processes that are already underway–so projects like the Enbridge Northern Gateway tankers and pipeline project could get an easier ride.

Scientists are being fired and advisory panels shut down.

Trusted advisors to government that provide high-quality analysis for balanced policy are being ignored. The 2012 budget eliminates the funding for the last remaining government advisory body – the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE). The NRTEE provides analysis and advice on how to meet our international commitments to reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Many lakes, rivers and streams that provide habitat to fish will be at greater risk of destruction because of changes to the Fisheries Act contained within the budget implementation bill. Healthy fish habitat is important for fish and for the people and businesses that depend on them.

Canada has a Minister of the Environment who calls opposition Members of Parliament who talk to Americans traitors, and a Minister of Natural Resources who complains that environmental groups are supported by foreign "jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world."

Today, June 4, hundreds of websites are going dark in protest against the Canadian Government's attempt to silence the environmental movement (see the list here) Learn more at Black Out Speak Out.

Tags: Activism | Canada | Tar Sands