A month after the federal government tabled its 2012 budget bill — Bill C-38 — opposition to the bill’s heavy-handed attack on Canada’s democratic values and rich natural legacy continues to build.

Since Ecojustice, in collaboration with 10 other leading environmental groups, launched the Black Out Speak Out campaign, more than 13,000 individuals and over 100 organizations have decided to speak out against Bill C-38. Canadian icon Margaret Atwood — one of Ecojustice’s honorary directors — is among those who are speaking up to say that silence not an option when nature and democracy are under attack.

Canadians refuse to be silenced as the federal government moves to dismantle the laws that protect our air, water and land, clearing the way for resource extraction that will pave over our forests and pollute our oceans.

Canadians are speaking up because the problems don’t stop there. The budget bill not only weakens the environmental review process, but looks to shut citizens out of hearings for major industrial projects, essentially stripping Canadians of their right to be heard when decisions that affect their lives are being made. Meanwhile, the bill provides $8 million in new funding to audit and possibly defund charities — including groups that advocate for better environmental laws.

Ecojustice is taking a stand because extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures. What we face is not just a battle for our natural legacy, but a fight for our democracy — for our right to be respected as a stakeholder in the future of this country. That’s why groups like the United Steelworkers, Oxfam Canada and Democracy Watch, as well as doctors, lawyers, teachers and artists are getting involved. We know that a country without open debate is a country in crisis.

Four ex-federal fisheries ministers — from across party lines — have gone on record opposing the budget bill’s proposed changes to the Fisheries Act.

Opposition MPs on Parliament Hill are breaking out filibuster tactics in an effort to ensure that the bill’s 400+ pages of legislative changes are given proper consideration instead of being passed en masse.

Appearing as witnesses in various committee hearings, Ecojustice and other groups are standing in front of federal politicians in Ottawa and imploring them to save the laws that protect our water, air and land.

We need you to raise your voice too. Whatever your background or political affiliation, now is the time to get involved. Join us and speak out for nature and democracy on June 4. Whether you darken your website or send a letter to your MP, our unified stand against the budget bill will mark the beginning of a shared effort by charities, businesses and individual Canadians to protect and promote what makes this country so great — our towering forests, rugged mountains, abundant lakes and rivers, and above all, our free and open society.

It’s time to speak out.