Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why Occupy Toronto?

I have been trying to get my head around the "Occupy" movement, particularly in Canada. It seems to me there are a lot of points of contention and pain in other countries, but wonder what we have to complain about in Canada that would move people to these extreme measures. I'm also not sure I completely "get" this movement since there are not specific demands or direction. On the other hand, I defend their right to peaceful assembly and protest.

I was in New York last week and walked past the Occupy Wall Street encampment. I was surprised at how small a geographic space it takes up (no bigger than Toronto's, albeit a lot more densely populated). I was also surprised at how organized they appeared to be, obviously quite self-contained in the space they are occupying.

Last night my fellow Slaw law blogger Omar Ha-Redeye appeared on TV Ontario's current affairs talk show The Agenda with Steve Paikin supporting the Occupy Toronto movement. It is a thought-provoking exchange and helped clarify things for me. Here's that discussion--

As I have been writing this, word comes via Twitter that the people at Occupy Toronto have been served eviction notices by the city. Everything is peaceful so far, but the city (and the world) will be watching.


Daniel Lee said...

Omar did a superb job. Has Steve Paikan gone down and spoken to the occupiers? I didn't see the show, but it seemed to me Steve was hoping Omar would become a spokesperson for the movement, which Omar deftly avoided, to get some clarity. It would seem to me speaking to the occupiers directly might help frame things up.

Connie Crosby said...

I only saw this part of the show, so didn't get a sense of it either.

I also watched a repeat airing of Goldhawk Live on Rogers (with a sub host) today with 3 representatives from the movement who answered similar questions. None of them were willing to become a spokesperson, either, since it is about multiplicity of voices.

LaurenceBrown said...

Thank you for sharing the interview video. Have a great day

Connie Crosby said...

Thanks, Laurence.

Alexa Clark went through the Occupy Toronto camp today and took some photos, and posted them with her thoughtful comments. Her company works out of the co-working space Camaraderie which is close to the park; Rachel Young shown in the photos is one of Camaraderie's founders:


Connie Crosby said...

Oy, I don't know why that didn't turn into a live link. Here it is, hopefully working:


Joanna said...

It amazes me that the media continues to parrot this "there's no clear issue" message.

It's not that the issue isn't clear, it's that it's a complicated problem. We protest an unfair system that propagates economic inequality and places corporate profit over any other concern.

Banks in Canada *did* get bailed out, they just did it in a sneaky way. And at the same time we are cutting social services left, right and center, and giving tax breaks to corporations so they can create jobs, except they aren't doing that, they're giving big bonuses to their CEO's.

It's a complicated problem. But it's not that we don't all agree on it. We might not all agree on what to do about it, but that's why these camps exist - to create a space to talk about it so we can figure out a solution.

Not OccupyToronto said...

Lawyer Susan Ursel has suggested that if she loses the case to keep the campers in the park she will be permitting them to stay in the front yard of her exclusive Teddington Park residence just a 5 minute walk from the Rosedale Golf and Country club. The address is 30 Roslin Avenue, north west of Yonge and Lawrence.

Jim Tarber said...

The situation in Canada may be considered by some to be better than elsewhere but it does not mean we don't have a growing problem to solve and to avoid getting worse. There's lots of info here from the Conference Board of Canada on how the problems are growing in Canada:
I've seen many other charts showing that income disparity is growing at a much faster rate in Canada than in the USA.

The Montreal Gazette quotes Armine Yalnizyan, a senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, "In Canada, income inequality is by some measures the worst it’s ever been in 90 years of recorded history, worse even than at its previous peak in the Roaring Twenties. The system is concentrating wealth in fewer and fewer hands. It’s not a sustainable trajectory.”

So-called leaders like Rob Ford and Stephen Harper stick their head in the sand and dismiss this, calling instead for things like lower corporate taxes and service cuts to pay for them.

Service cuts and higher profits come at the expense of salaried staff (read: layoffs to fund higher profit margins) and fewer residents of Canada taking home reasonable paycheques means fewer Canadians spending and deeper recessions and slower recoveries (or double-dips).

The fundamental problem of income disparity leads to a host of other economic and social problems that cannot be solved with economic plans from the 80s and 90s politicians' textbooks. Because they have raped the economies to fund higher corporate profits, so there is no foundation to rebuild on.

Jim Tarber said...

From the Government of Canada: The top 20% income earners make 9.1 *TIMES* the income of the bottom 20%. That is CANADA. It's 10.1 TIMES? in BC. Govt Charts Here