The first of a series of Voices’ videos on the silencing of dissent was launched yesterday. It features John Bennett, Program Director of Sierra Club Canada Foundation, one of Canada’s leading environmental charitable organizations. Bennett describes the attack launched by the Conservative-backed and pro-oil sands group “Ethical Oil”, which filed complaints against SCCF with a view to stripping its charitable status.
The video can be viewed here.
The SCCF was audited in 2011 and given a clean bill of health. It then targeted by three complaints from “Ethical Oil”, filed with the Canada Revenue Agency.
The SCCF is only one of several organizations under scrutiny initiated by “Ethical Oil”. Tides Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence have all received notice of filed complaints to the CRA. In 2012, David Suzuki had decried the fact that “every day there’s a disparaging revelation, a new accusation, pitting charities against federal leaders or special interest groups.” After these incidents, severe cuts to Environment Canada, and the downgrading of environmental protections at the federal level, Canadians may be overwhelmed by what seems like a mountain of evidence pointing to the deterioration of environmental protection and science in this country.
According to Bennett, “It’s about trying to eliminate the ability of environmental organizations to speak out on important issues.”
Voices-Voix is a Canadian coalition of 219 organizations, and has been systematically documenting the silencing by government of dissenting voices: tactics include surveillance of human rights defenders, attacks on independent watchdog agencies, defunding of environmental science and of progressive civil society organizations, and selective CRA audits of the charitable status of international development organizations and environmental defence groups.
Categories: Democracy & Dissent