VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Thousands of websites are dark today in protest of the federal government’s Bill C-38, the federal government’s budget implementation bill.

Many of the sites are from environmental groups, who believe the bill strips down Canada’s environmental regulations and protections.

Biologist Carin Bondar thinks the protest, called “Black out, Speak out,” will be quite effective, since many of the sites get thousands of hits every hour.

“We’re talking about World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club, David Suzuki Foundation, and Greenpeace Canada. So everybody that goes to these sites is basically going to see a blank screen. This is going to remind people that this is a pretty massive protest,” believes Bondar.

She adds these groups are unhappy with what she calls ‘a ridiculous tactic’ by Ottawa.

“The federal government is looking to crack down on environmental groups in terms of what they’re working on and their funding rather than simply looking at the work that they are doing and results that they’re get.”

Jim Boothroyd with the David Suzuki Foundation says the current bill is damaging to nature and democracy.

“[It's a] a full on assault on key environmental laws, the environmental review process, in ways that silences the voices who are opposed to the approval of major industry developments without careful democratic debate.”

He adds thousands of people are writing letters, e-mailing and tweeting politicians in Ottawa in support of this cause.

The Harper cabinet is hoping to get ahead of the cyber protest by putting on a Canada-wide full-court press to persuade voters that less is more in the area of environmental protection.

Ten cabinet ministers are fanning out across the country today from St. John’s to Surrey, selling basically the same theme — that the government’s re-branded resource development plan will create jobs and prosperity without devastating the environment.

The initiative is led by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, who opened the campaign with a morning speech in Gatineau, Quebec. He says the goal is to promote investment, business confidence and jobs while strengthening environmental standards.

Under the changes, Ottawa will limit the number, duration and scope of environmental reviews on major resource projects, such as the Northern Gateway pipeline that would take Alberta oil to the BC coast.