Federal cuts to Canadian Environmental Network reduce voice for Manitoba groups
Federal environment minister Peter Kent announced yesterday that the federal government is unilaterally ending its partnership agreement with the Canadian Environmental Network (RCEN). RCEN is a national umbrella organization representing 640 environmental groups across the country. It has affiliate networks in 11 provinces and territories including the Manitoba Eco-Network. As a result of yesterday’s announcement, lay-offs in RCEN’s Ottawa office have come into effect. Ramifications of the potential closure of the RCEN will be felt across the country, as environmental organizations in provinces like Manitoba will lose their voice at the national table.
“Our member groups in Manitoba are often small organizations, without a lot of funding and with huge volunteer commitment. They depend on the Canadian Environmental Network to stay connected on issues of national scope,” said Kristine Koster, executive director with the Manitoba Eco-Network. “Initiatives like the Rio + 20 consultations we are planning in collaboration with the RCEN next month would be impossible without their involvement.”
“The loss of RCEN will leave the federal government out of touch with of the full range of expertise that exists across Canada on environmental issues,” said Josh Brandon, RCEN national council member. “The RCEN has a democratic, peer-selection process for providing representative input on consultations. Without the RCEN, the federal government can pick and choose which voices it wants to hear. Groups outside Ottawa, and the perspectives of Manitobans, will be left out of the picture.”
The RCEN has served as a conduit for national organizing on environmental issues for 34 years. It is considered a model environmental network worldwide. Manitoba Eco-Network urges all Manitobans speak up for democracy and to contact their elected representatives to let them know they value the work the RCEN does in providing understanding and effective communication on environmental issues across Canada. Information on how get involved is available at: www.mbeconetwork.org.
Contacts: Josh Brandon, RCEN national council member and communications coordinator with Green Action Centre, 204-898-6460
Kristine Koster, executive director, Manitoba Eco-Network, 204-947-6511