There’s disturbing news in the budgets of both Ontario and the federal government. Both levels of government are using massive so-called budget bills to sneak through legislation that guts protection for our environment.
For instance, Ontario’s Budget Bill 55 changes the Endangered Species Act so that industrial wind turbine and solar companies will not longer have to apply for permits to kill, harass or destroy the habitat of species at risk.
Recovery strategies for species at risk – blueprints to help endangered species survive – can now be delayed by a year with no public notice and no reasons given.
The federal government’s omnibus Budget Bill C-38 replaces the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, allowing the federal government to crack down on charities, including environmental groups, which advocate for better laws and policies. It overrides National Energy Board decisions and rushes projects through a weaker environmental review process in order to “fast track” industrial development,.
And there’s more: reduced protection for fish and fish habitats, exempting pipelines and power lines from the Navigable Waters Act and reduced protection for species at risk.
Over 600 Parks Canada workers will be laid off – over 20% of the staff. Seismic testing will allow increased offshore drilling and publicly-owned grasslands – a critical habitat for many avian species at risk – will be leased out for field cropping.
Elizabeth May says: “In spite of the fact that most Canadians have no idea how seriously Bill C-38 will affect their lives, the Senate is about to begin hearings so that Conservative Senators can vote on it as soon as possible. This railroading version of democracy is tragic for Canada.”
These changes—hidden in a budget bill in the hopes that Canadians wouldn’t notice—are threatening the core values all Canadians hold dear: nature and democracy. Silence is not an option. To protest against this gutting of environmental protection, many environmental groups will darken their websites on June 4th.
Black Out Speak Out groups will darken websites nationwide to protest against the government’s efforts to silence Canadians. The campaign will invite organizations, businesses and citizens from across Canada to darken their websites on June 4, and speak out against these changes.
Participating environmental organizations include CPAWS, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Equiterre, Environmental Defence, Greenpeace, Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, and WWF Canada.
For more information, visit http://blackoutspeakout.ca/
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The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, founded in 1997, is an affiliate of Ontario Nature. It provides an educational forum dedicated to the study, promotion, appreciation and conservation of the flora and fauna within Prince Edward County. The public is welcome at the meetings held on the last Tuesday of the month from September to May, except December, at Bloomfield Town Hall. Guest speakers introduce a variety of nature related topics. All members are encouraged to participate at meetings by sharing their experiences and observations. Regularly scheduled field trips in the vicinity offer members the opportunity to experience various habitats. Membership in PECFN is open to all. Contact: Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, P.O. Box 477, Bloomfield, Ontario K0K 1G0 Or Cheryl Anderson 613-471-1096
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