Websites Go Dark in Protest of Canada’s Bill C-38

Remember when websites like Wikipedia and several others went dark all day on Jan. 18, 2012 to protest the U.S. government’s proposed PIPA and SOPA and legislation? Well, something like that is happening again; only this time, websites – though not Wikipedia – have decided to “go dark” all day today, Jun. 4, 2012, in protest of the Canadian government’s decision to push through Bill C-38.

Canadian Websites Go Dark

The movement, which is known as “Black Out Speak Out” has garnered the attention and support of Greenpeace and the David Suzuki Foundation, which have the message posted in English and French, the World Wildlife Fund and Margaret Atwood, among others. Some websites, like Atwood’s, have gone completely black with only the Black Out Speak Out protest message appearing. Others, such as the World Wildlife Fund, have a black box that obscures a site visitor’s view of the website. The box also contains the Black Out Speak Out message, but it can be closed, and visitors can view the site normally.

What has everyone so outraged is that Bill C-38 seems to propose changing Canada’s environmental laws for the worse, and the government doesn’t seem to care what Canadian citizens think about that. Below are three of the campaign’s top 10 reasons to speak out against Bill C-38:

  1. 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 that 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.
  2. Canadians’ participation in Parliament is being disrespected. Instead of following the established process for making sweeping changes, which allows for thorough public debate, these changes are being shoehorned into a massive budget law. This drastically reduces the amount of consultation on a whole variety of topics. These changes will have serious consequences for all Canadians and our voices are not being heard.
  3. 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.

Black Out Speak Out campaign leaders also ask that people support the cause on Facebook and Twitter.

Some may recall that the U.S. protest against PIPA and SOPA gained enough traction that it all but halted the U.S. government’s decision to move forward with the legislation. If the Black Out Speak Out campaign fares as well as the protest against PIPA and SOPA, the Canadian government may also take heed of what its citizens have to say.

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