rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Speak out for the environment and democracy on June 4

Canada would be a different place without our 80,000 registered charities dedicated to everything from health to economic policy to the environment. We'd be much poorer without the two million employees and millions of volunteers who devote their time to causes that strengthen our nation.

Recent efforts by the federal government and its backers in media and industry front groups like Ethical Oil to demonize and silence legitimate organizations ignore the important role charities play in Canada. That's why environmental and other organizations are joining with Canadians from all walks of life for Black Out Speak Out, launched on May 7 with ads in the Globe and Mail, La Presse, and Ottawa’s Hill Times and culminating in a website blackout June 4.

Canadians understand the value of charitable organizations. Close to 85 per cent of us over 15 years of age (22.2 million people) donate to charities every year. Often, it's to help people in other parts of the world. According to Charity Village, Canadians gave $20 million to the Canadian Red Cross, CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, UNICEF Canada, and World Vision within four days of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. For supporting worthy causes, Canadians are entitled to a small tax break.

Canadians also know that our spectacular natural environment is crucial to our national identity, health, and survival, and that we can't always count on governments and industry to look out for its interests. And so they give their time, money, and voices to organizations working on a range of conservation issues from habitat and species protection to clean energy and global warming. The David Suzuki Foundation relies on Canadians for more than 94 per cent of its funding.

Canadians also expect transparency and results, which is why our funding and spending information is public. With the help of many Canadians, and along with friends and allies, we've enjoyed many successes. We’ve increased demand and supply for sustainable seafood, fought for habitat protection for animals such as killer whales, and ensured that invaluable areas like the Great Bear Rainforest and the northern boreal forest get increased protection. Perhaps more importantly, we've facilitated opportunities for Canadians to engage in important discussions about conservation of the air, water, land, and biodiversity on which we all depend.

It's why we're astounded by the increasing efforts to stifle so many people and organizations that devote countless hours to the often thankless and less-than-lucrative tasks of ensuring that Canada remains a stellar example of an open and democratic country with strong social values and a clean and healthy environment.

If we are committed to these ideals then it follows we should also value freedom of speech and opportunities for a range of viewpoints on matters of national interest. It's fair to place limits on the extent and types of work organizations with charitable status can do. It's fair to ask questions about donations and what, if any, influence they may have on activities. But it is unacceptable to try to silence people with smear tactics designed to discredit them and deny their funding.

If our leaders want to pin all their hopes and our future on a twinned pipeline through Alberta and B.C. to ship raw tar sands bitumen to China, then Canadians at least deserve a proper conversation about it. We've seen recent signs of hope, with the Alberta government calling for a national energy strategy, for example, and with people in the media and elsewhere questioning the wisdom of employing an omnibus budget act to gut environmental laws and attack charitable organizations.

With continued suppression of those who speak out about the environment and women's and human rights, along with muzzling of government scientists and cuts to government scientific and environmental programs and departments, it's clear we're facing a growing campaign, in part backed by industrial interests, to silence opposition.

We expect and deserve better. That's why we're speaking out. Silence is not an option. We're asking all Canadians to join us to help preserve two core national values: nature and democracy. Let's keep Canada strong and free. Please visit the websites of your favourite environmental organizations on June 4 to add your voice.

Participating organizations include: David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Sierra Club of Canada, Pembina Institute, Nature Canada, Ecojustice, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington.

Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.