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Black Out Speak Out


Black Out Speak Out

If you’ve noticed that environmental organizations have added a black box and the words "Black Out Speak Out" over their Twitter or Facebook icons, here’s why.

If you’ve noticed that your favourite environmental organizations have added a black box and the words “Black Out Speak Out” over their Twitter or Facebook icons, here’s why.

What is Black Out Speak Out?
Black Out Speak Out is a collective movement by many Canadian environmental organizations, in protest of Bill C-38—proposed changes to the Canadian law that, according to the Black Out Speak Out website, will “weaken environmental rules and silence the voices of those who seek to defend them.” These proposed changes are part of the latest federal budget.

Black Out Speak Out lists the following reasons for this movement (for a more detailed list, click here to view their website)

  1. The Canadian government is targeting charities by forbidding them from spending more than a certain percentage of their activities on political advocacy, allowing for more power being given to lobbyists and less power to individuals, environmental groups, and even government agencies.
  2. There will be less public debate and consultation about changes made in Parliament, leaving Canadians with less power and say on a wide variety of topics.
  3. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act will be replaced with a new law with weaker rules for reviewing and approving projects (such as Enbridge Northern Gateway tankers and pipeline project).
  4. Ultimately, the proposed changes will lead to concentrated power in the hands of a few people. For instance, the “National Energy Board will no longer be able to say ‘no’ to oil pipeline projects that are not in the public interest. Politicians in Cabinet will be able to overrule the expert energy regulator if powerful oil interests don't like its decision.”
  5. The Canadian government will no longer look to trusted advisors about environmental issues, such as the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE).

The campaign will culminate on Monday, June 4, when the environmental organizations involved (see below), plus many other groups and individuals will darken their websites and spend the day calling and emailing MPs to demand action.

Who’s involved?
Environmental groups and organizations that have joined the fight include:

  • the David Suzuki Foundation
  • Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
  • Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)
  • Ecojustice
  • Environmental Defence
  • Equiterre
  • Greenpeace
  • Nature Canada
  • Sierra Club Canada
  • the Pembina Institute
  • West Coast Environmental Law
  • World Wildlife Foundation

Some famous individuals who have pledged their support for the movement include Margaret Atwood, Anne Murray, and Stephen Lewis.

What can we do?
Individuals can get involved in several simple ways.

  • Discuss the issue on social media, including Facebook and Twitter (by using the hashtag #BLACKOUTSPEAKOUT).
  • Add a Black Out Speak Out ribbon to your own profile picture on these social media websites, to show you are in support of the movement.
  • Visit the Black Out Speak Out website to learn more and to sign up for updates.


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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD