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.
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“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 Canadian author, Margaret Atwood.
She criticised the government for wasting taxpayers' money “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.
The government is having trouble even keeping their own in line. Conservative backbench MP David Wilks (Kootenay-Columbia) publicly broke ranks with the government and said the massive budget omnibus bill should be split up.
"Dissent is vital to democracy” said Greenpeace executive director Bruce Cox.“The Harper government may not see any difference between what is good for oil companies and what is good for the country, but most Canadians do."
Greenpeace’s partners include CAPE, CPAWS, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Nature Canada, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, and WWF Canada.
Since the campaign began they have been joined by Oxfam Canada, Amnesty International, 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]
“In Canada when some charities are targeted, all feel threatened," said Oxfam Canada executive director Robert Fox.
"This budget bill is just another step in a wider crackdown on dissenting voices," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director for Canada. "This government wants to pass laws that directly target voices it doesn’t like.”
“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.”
“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. Charities have the right to say things some people don’t like,” said Gareth Kirkby, director of engagement for Pink Triangle Press (Xtra).
“It is time for all Canadians to demand a government that works for people and not polluters” said Hannah McKinnon of the Climate Action Network describing the Harper government as “at the beck and call of big oil”.
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.
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