UPDATE: #BlackOutSpeakOut Events

Media Release, May 29, 2012

#BlackOutSpeakOut Update

We are just a week away from #BlackOutSpeakOut day (June 4th). I can tell you the campaign momentum is building! The list of participating organizations is over 100 and growing! Maude Barlow just told me The Council of Canadians is also joining the protest. All across the country Canadians are recognizing that silence is not an option in face of the war on nature and democracy.

This week here in Ottawa we have two events:

Event #1:

On May 30th at 7:00 p.m. I will moderate a #BlackOutSpeakOut teach-in at St. Paul's University (223 Main Street) with MP Elizabeth May (Green) and representatives of the Liberals and the NDP. Unfortunately, MPs Megan Leslie (NDP) and Kristy Duncan (Liberal) won’t be able to attend now as they have been appointed to a special sub-committee to review the gutting of environmental laws that will meet at the same time as the teach-in). This sub-committee is actually a small step forward in our fight to break-up the omnibus budget bill. There is still time to register and attend. If you can't come out for the teach-in don’t worry. It will be recorded and available on our website in the following days.Please consider making a donation today.

Event #2:

I've been invited to testify on Bill C-38 before a Senate Committee Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. (media doesn't usually awake before 10:00 a.m.). This is an outrageous move by the government Senators. They are supposed to wait until the Commons passes a bill, but in this case they plan to fast track their hearings. I will appear but will not comment on a bill not presently before the Senate. Instead, I will be demanding that government Senators apologize to all Canadians who consider themselves environmentalists for the derogatory remarks and unfounded allegations made by several Senators who say they are conducting an "investigation". In fact, their investigation is a witch hunt -- ripe with McCarthyism -- in which accusations are hurled without evidence or an opportunity to set the record straight. The ‘chamber of sober second thought’ has been turned into an echo-chamber of government smears. I would like to enter your emails into the record. Please send me your reaction to the government smear campaign and I will read them into the record (Executive.Director@sierraclub.ca).

Finally, next Monday Sierra Club Canada will send you an invitation to participate directly in the #BlackOutSpeakOut campaign. You will probably receive invitations from other groups as well. Please take part as this is a numbers campaign. In the meantime, urge your friends to get involved. If you are involved with a group that has a website remind them that silence is not an option and urge them to participate. We can send graphics and supply technical help.

Let's speak out together.

John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
John on Twitter
More from the Bennett Blog

P.S. – You can Donate $10 to help defend Canada's environmental protection laws by simply Texting SIERRA to 45678. To donate $20 do it twice! To donate $30, do it 3 times. It's easy!


RELATED: #BlackOutSpeakOut campaign launched, Media Release, May 2012


Media Release, May 24, 2012

Thousands join national #BlackOutSpeakOut campaign
Groups agree silence is not an option as attacks on nature & democracy continue

TORONTO – Every day, more Canadians and organizations stand with environmental groups against the federal government’s attacks on nature and democracy.

In the two weeks since #BlackOutSpeakOut 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.

“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 iconic Canadian author, Margaret Atwood. "Taxpayers' money should not be wasted in smear campaigns and in 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.

“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.”

Voices are being heard, too. A diverse list of people and organizations have signed on, including Oxfam Canada, 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/]

"This budget bill is just another step in a wider crack-down on dissenting voices," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director for Canada. "This government wants to pass laws—including one aimed at trade unions—that directly target voices it doesn’t like.”

"We see all around the world what happens when public debate is stifled and dissenting voices are intimidated," said Oxfam Canada executive director Robert Fox. "In Canada when some charities are targeted, all feel threatened and everyone loses out."

“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. We’re Canada’s largest and leading gay and lesbian media group and we’re proud to be involved. Charities have the right to say things some people don’t like,” said Gareth Kirkby, director of engagement for Pink Triangle Press (Xtra).

“Canadians deserve a government committed to a clean future and a safe climate for our children and grandchildren, not a government that is at the beck and call of big oil,” said Hannah McKinnon of the Climate Action Network. “We are speaking out because it is time for all Canadians to demand a government that works for people and not polluters.”

Launched on May 7, #BlackOutSpeakOut (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.

The #BlackOutSpeakOut campaign is a joint project of Sierra Club Canada, CAPE, CPAWS, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Greenpeace, Nature Canada, Pembina Institute, West Coast Environmental Law, and WWF Canada.


For more information contact:

P.S. – If you would like to make a contribution to the #BlackOutSpeakOutcampaign click here.You can Donate $10 to help defend and protect Canada's environmental protection laws by simply Texting SIERRA to 45678. To donate $20 do it twice! To donate $30, do it 3 times. It's easy!

John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
John on Twitter
More from the Bennett Blog


RELATED: #BlackOutSpeakOut Ottawa Teach-in May 30th

RELATED: "#BlackOutSpeakOut" campaign launched by environmental groups


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