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Why Silence is Not an Option

You’ve probably heard by now that some of Canada’s biggest environmental organizations are getting together to respond to the recent federal budget implementation bill that makes massive changes to environmental legislation. Our campaign is called BlackOutSpeakOut. On June 4th, organizations (environmental and otherwise) across Canada will be ‘blacking out’ their websites to respond to the weakening of our environmental safeguards.

CPAWS prides itself on being a solutions-focused organization.  We don’t make the decision to join a protest lightly. The budget implementation bill rolls back the clock on environmental protection, rewrites habitat provisions in the Fisheries Act, replaces the entire Environmental Assessment Act with a much weaker version, excludes interested Canadians from public consultation processes and centralizes more decision-making at the Cabinet level.

As a result, our land and water, and the ecosystems and wildlife they sustain, will be vulnerable to fast-tracked industrial development projects rather than a thoughtful process that enables science-based methods to determine impacts to nature prior to approval.

Environmental groups like CPAWS have always participated in public consultations about the impacts of development projects on our natural environment, and encouraged our supporters to do the same. Whether it’s on the impact of a mining project on a national park downstream, or a dam on a river system, these processes ensure that citizens and groups like CPAWS can bring our knowledge and perspectives to bear on decision-making, and provide science-based analysis of industrial projects. This isn’t political activity – it’s bringing our expertise and knowledge to bear on decision-making.

And whether you agree with environmental groups or not, they and their members should have the right to participate in these discussions. I may not always agree with my counterparts in other environmental organizations – but I will defend their right to share their views. I may not always agree with my counterparts in the industrial sector – but I will also defend their right to be heard as well. Healthy and informed debate is critically important to sound public decision-making, and is a core Canadian value.

Bill C-38 is an unprecedented piece of legislation that combines a traditional budget bill with a rewriting of almost every federal environmental law. Silence is not an option.

We'll be talking more about Black Out Speak Out in the coming days.  Read more below...