Frequently Asked Questions

What is Black Out Speak Out?

On June 4th, Canada's major environmental organizations, charities, unions, bloggers, and others will darken their websites in defence of nature and democracy. We darken our websites to raise awareness and as a symbolic act of solidarity between Canadians from all walks of life. But we will also speak out and demonstrate to decision makers that Canadians will not be silenced. On June 4th, a splash page on participating websites will post a link to a series of suggested actions for individuals to take.

The campaign kicked off on May 7 with full-page ads in the Globe and Mail, La Presse and Ottawa's Hill Times. It also includes a website, blackoutspeakout.ca or silenceonparle.ca. Black Out Speak Out is a shared effort of the following organizations: CAPE, CPAWS, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Equiterre, Environmental Defence, Greenpeace, Nature Canada, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, and WWF Canada.

Do you want us to make our website inaccessible on June 4?

No. While some will choose to shut down their site entirely, we realize that this is a barrier for other groups and we want to facilitate participation. So all of your web functions can remain intact. Pages will still be able to be accessed; links will still work. We're asking that on June 4, when people visit your homepage only, that a splash page comes up that explains why your homepage appears black and asks people to take action by clicking through to blackoutpseakout.ca. Our emphasis is encouraging people to take action on June 4.

Can someone visiting our site get rid of the splash page if they want?

Yes. If someone doesn't want to read the splash page or take any further action, they will be able to close the page by clicking an 'x' in the upper right hand corner.

What action will you be asking that people take?

We are being non-partisan in our suggested activities. Some of these include changing Facebook statuses linking to blackoutspeakout.ca and/or changing profile photos; sending emails and tweets to MPs urging they protect nature and democracy; darkening websites and blogs; and urging their friends, co-workers, classmates and families to join in.

We’re not an environmental organization. Why should we participate?

The budget bill itself has been roundly criticized from across the political spectrum for being an undemocratic way to make so many large changes. The environmental changes are particularly undemocratic and worrisome given the extent to which the government is going to please powerful oil interests; First Nations and many communities along proposed pipeline routes are similarly outraged.

We fear this is just another step in a wider crack-down on dissenting voices. For example, the budget bill also suddenly and unexpectedly will delete a backlog of immigration applications from people who have waited to come to Canada for years. A Private Member's Bill that has Cabinet support is making its way through the House that would require unions to publicly list all recipients of contracts above $5,000. A charity dealing with nuclear disarmament has recently been stripped of its charitable status. In the face of such actions, we think silence is not an option for any organization that believes in democratic debate.

How else can we participate?

We would love your help in encouraging other organizations, your members or staff, classmates and friends to participate. If you have e-mail newsletters, please promote it and encourage recipients to join in. Join and promote the Facebook group and use the #blackoutspeakout hashtag on Twitter. Or use your imagination. The more decentralized and organic promotion this campaign gets, the better we will do.

What are the top items of environmental concern in the 2012 budget bill (Bill C-38)?

Please download a list of the TOP 10 items of environmental concern in the 2012 budget bill (Bill C-38).

Speak out on June 4, 2012 in defence of two core Canadian values: nature and democracy.

Join a committed group of organizations representing millions of Canadians as we darken our websites in protest against efforts to silence your voice.

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