As part of the implementation of their 2012 Budget, the Conservative majority in Canada’s Parliament introduced Bill C-38, an omnibus piece of legislation containing all sorts of legislation, including some pretty big changes to environmental law:
– It repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.
– It sets timelines for environmental assessment hearings and allows Ottawa to hand off assessments to the provinces.
– It gives the federal cabinet the authority to approve new pipeline projects and sets time limits for regulatory reviews.
– It makes changes to how permits under the Species at Risk Act are authorized.
– It overhauls the Fisheries Act to focus only on major waterways, not every single body of water.
– It sets out stiffer fines for industry players who break environmental regulations and laws.
Some of these measures have raised serious concerns among Canadian environmental activists and groups.
According to Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation:
“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.”
In response, The Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace, WWF, the Sierra Club and others are asking concerned Canadians to black out their web sites and blogs on Monday, June 4th, and replace them with the stark message above. They also invite Twitter (hashtag “#BLACKOUTSPEAKOUT”) and Facebook shares.
Being a national Canadian campaign, it is also running in French as #SILENCEONPARLE. See that message after the break.