Black Out Speak Out puts Tories in damage control mode

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Organizers for Black Out Speak Out are calling their anti-Bill C38 campaign a big success.

On Monday, hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals across Canada and the United States darkened their websites in protest of the Conservative's omnibus budget bill that critics say weakens environmental regulations and oversight.

Darkened websites in Canada included the NDP, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and even author Margaret Atwood.

[ More: What is in Bill C-38? ]

The campaign has forced the Conservatives into damage control.

This week, the Tories will send 11 MPs across the country to counter the "exaggeration, distortion and outright falsehoods" of Bill C-38 critics.

Gillian McEachern, deputy campaign director of Environmental Defence, which is one of the organizations leading the web black out, says the government's response means their campaign is working.

"It isn't every day that a third of the Cabinet fans out to respond to a civil society campaign, so clearly this has gotten under their skin," she told Yahoo! Canada News.

"The signal of today's action — over 500 groups representing millions of Canadians — makes it clear that Canadians care about nature and democracy, and will join together to defend it. We hope that rather than just dispatching Ministers to spin to Canadians, government will listen to the people speaking out today and change course."

McEachern adds that her group will continue to pressure the government on Bill C-38 throughout the summer.

Meanwhile, Andrew MacDougall, spokesperson for Stephen Harper, says the Conservatives intend to proceed with the bill as is.

In an email exchange with Yahoo! Canada News, Monday morning, MacDougall said the travelling Tory ministers will be armed with this message:

The Harper Government is focused on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

Our natural resources industries, including energy, mining and minerals processing and forestry, account for more than 10 percent of our gross domestic product and provide close to 800,000 jobs in Canada.

In the next 10 years, more than 500 new projects representing over $500 billion in new investments will be proposed for Canada in the natural resources sector. The potential for job growth is enormous.

This is why our Government is acting in Economic Action Plan 2012 with our plan for Responsible Resource Development.

Responsible Resource Development will create good, skilled well-paying jobs in cities and communities across Canada by streamlining the review process for major economic projects.

The time is now for Canada's immense resources. Canada must compete with other resource-rich countries around the world for these job-creating investment dollars.  This is why we need to ensure timely, efficient and effective project reviews.