Websites go black in enviro protest 0
Former fisheries minister John Fraser (left) and scientist David Suzuki speak out in Vancouver against Bill C-38 Monday as part of a national day of action. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
Websites belonging to 530 non-profit groups, businesses, unions, First Nations and federal opposition parties went dark on Monday to protest the Conservative's omnibus Budget bill.
Some websites were entirely black and white, while others displayed only a message on a black background calling on Canadians to stand up for democracy and the environment. Others appeared as normal, except for the message on black added to a spot on the home page.
"We will not tolerate being silenced or shut out of this discussion," said environmentalist David Suzuki at a False Creek press conference to protest changes to the Fisheries Act and environmental reviews of industrial projects contained in the omnibus bill.
"We want a return to civil society where people will be able to come out and speak openly and freely, especially about the biggest development on the planet (the oilsands)."
Conservative cabinet ministers countered with press conferences of their own across the country to promote Bill C-38, seen by critics as fast-tracking projects such as the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.
Speaking in Surrey, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan said energy and resource development could generate $500 billion in new investment over the next decade.
"Canada must compete with other resource-rich countries around the world for these job-creating investment dollars," he said. "This is why we need to ensure timely, efficient and effective project reviews."
Former Conservative fisheries minister John Fraser, however, sided with environmentalists on the omnibus bill as it is "a diminishing of the power in the Fisheries Act . which should not be debated along with a Budget bill."
Paraphrasing Stephen Harper's own opposition to a Liberal omnibus bill in 2004, Fraser added, "I could agree with part of it, but I can't agree with all of it. And I've lost my democratic right to make a decision."