Monday, June 4, 2012

Website Blackout In Support of Canada's Environment

On June 4, 2012, diverse groups from around the world blacked out their websites to protest Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government’s war on the environment. Through a combination of sweeping budget cuts and legislation that prevents debate the ruling Conservatives are engaged in genocide against Canada's environment. On June 4, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and 350.org featured "Black Out Speak Out" actions on their websites. These groups have joined others from across Canada, the First Nations and the EU with a simple message, “we will not be silenced.

The “Black Out Speak Out” coalition is a diverse alliance representing millions of people who are standing up to a dire threat to nature and democracy. They are blacking out their websites and darkening their profile pictures in a new form of 21st century protest. This message is intended for Conservatives, it is a call to defend Canadian values and to stand up for the country's land, water and climate.

In support of big oil, particularly the Alberta tar sands project, the Harper government wants to eradicate environmental oversight and muzzle scientific dissent.

As the 350.org team said in a recent letter, "The Canadian parliament is currently considering an omnibus bill that would vastly transform that nation's environmental protections while suppressing transparent public discussion. The new budget bill (Bill C-38) would replace the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act with a process that's vulnerable to corruption by powerful oil interests -- shifting power away from expert review boards and toward backroom lobbyists. What’s more, it would target charities advocating for environmental justice and climate change policy. The stakes are high, and we're asking you to help us make some noise about it."

“Canada—once an example for other countries on this planet—is in danger of letting tar sands greed undermine its democratic traditions,” said Bill McKibben, 350.org. “We’re blacking out our website for a day, because we want very badly for the Harper government to see the light: by deciding to keep carbon safe in the ground, it can set a shining example for the rest of the Earth.”

“This attack on democracy and nature starts in Canada, but the multi-national oil industry is pushing tar sands to markets in the United States and abroad, attacking any clean energy policies in their way,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, NRDC international program director. “And now an emboldened oil industry is pushing for Congressional approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline without further public input in the unrelated transportation bill. This is a critical time to join our Canadian friends in protesting this attempt to silence debate about our energy future and the need to fight climate change.”

“Let’s hope Harper gets the message that suppressing civil society’s voice in the interest of the oil industry is dangerously radical,” said Michael Marx, Sierra Club Beyond Oil campaign director. “It’s one thing to disagree with environmental groups, we’re used to that. But it’s quite another to try and silence your opposition by attacking civil society’s essential freedoms. Harper has crossed a very dangerous line.”

Visit BlackOutSpeakOut.ca to join the campaign and to access tools to make your voice heard.  Speak Out on Twitter, Facebook, and through your personal networks. Email or call your MP.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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