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Occupy, eh?
November 3, 2011 9:43 PM   Subscribe

While Occupy Wall Street has captured the attention of major American politicians, its counterpart in Canada has been mainly a municipal headache. Despite inequality north of the border rising at a comparable rate, and similar political sentiments, most Canadians also believe the movement is ineffective, though their hearts are in the right place. As the movement slows as winter weather sets in, cities are taking various measures to discourage the protests, hoping a combination of inconvenience and weather will disperse the encampments.

Occupy Vancouver: City officials have mostly taken a "watch and wait" approach, though the protest has dominated the municipal election campaign. Today a drug-induced cardiac arrest was reported, leading to an ultimatum from the fire chief requiring partial disassembly of the site by 10am Friday.
Occupy Victoria: City officials have turned off water and power at the site for "maintenance purposes."
Occupy Edmonton: City put up some irate bylaw signs, but turns out the bylaw doesn't apply, so the signs are coming back down.
Occupy Calgary: This group was split into two encampments, but one will be closing by Monday.
Occupy Quebec City: Fire officials have partially dismantled the site, but some tents remain despite requests to leave.
Occupy Montreal: Mayor says protesters are "cooperative" and there is "no need to evict them."
Occupy Toronto: Mayor Rob Ford has promised to "consider options to remove" the protest by next week.
Occupy Ottawa: A youtube video depicting protesters discussing alleged sexual violence was picked up by Breitbart and found its way onto Glenn Beck's radio show, leading to further attention by local media.
posted by mek (83 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a stereotype, but it's true. Canadians are way too polite.

In the U.S., protesters are greeted with pepper spray and rubber bullets. In Canada, officials politely ask them to leave. When they don't leave, officials remind them that it's cold and it's inconvenient. "Would you please stop protesting? It's a bit bothersome, a bit of a headache, eh?"

O Canada. We in the U.S. actually fought a revolution once before. Against the British, eh?
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:58 PM on November 3, 2011


Occupy Victoria: City officials have turned off water and power at the site for "maintenance purposes."

More accurately, the fountains in Centennial Square are turned off every winter; the camp was plugged into an outlet on the side of the CRD building. Having attended OSW events in Victoria, I have to say the movement is pretty damned ineffective. People smoking pot. Bongo drums. Flutes. Comical cardboard signs. If the movement really wanted to ruffle feathers, they would set up shop on the Legislature Lawn, which is also roped off at this time of year in order to prevent damage to the grass.

I think there is tremendous equality in Canada. We are all equally able to vote with our dollars. The true issue is equity, not equality. There is tremendous inequity in Canada.

20% of children live in poverty. The number goes up for single-parent households. A even bigger percentage of single-parent households headed by a female caregiver live in poverty. It's even higher for immigrant families. Much much higher for aboriginal and First Nations families? How is this possible in one of the richest countries in the world?

Sure it's great that Libya is free and everything, but every one of those bombs we dropped cost Canadian taxpayers $100,000. You wonder what could have been accomplished with that here on the home front.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:00 PM on November 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


In the U.S., protesters are greeted with pepper spray and rubber bullets. In Canada, officials politely ask them to leave.

Nah, we just have great PR.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:01 PM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


While the middle class is disappearing up here in the great white North, significantly widening the gap between the rich and the rest, our problems are significantly different from those of our neighbourinos to the South.

Our banking system, for starters, is much more reliable. The World Economic Forum rates the Canadian banking system as the safest and most efficient one in the world. [large pdf].

And the Canadian unemployment rate, while climbing, is not as high as the American rate.

Our concerns are different, so our strategies for demanding change should be different. I'm all for showing solidarity, but I'm extremely cynical about trying to use the Occupy Mobilization as a means of addressing our specific problems.

An anecdote: One of my politically engaged, radical friends and I were talking about Occupy Toronto, and we were both expressing our ambivalence. Her main complaint was that she couldn't really be of service to the movement, literally couldn't set up camp, because she has three jobs.
posted by emilycardigan at 10:06 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Despite inequality north of the border rising at a comparable rate, and similar political sentiments

Not everyone agrees…
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:07 PM on November 3, 2011


Just got back from Hong Kong, where the Occupy Wall Street protesters had set their tents and cooking area right under the HSBC building, so those going up in the escalator would be viewing them every time they looked through the see through floor. They also seemed to have a particular cause there: reversing a land use decision. There were at most 20 tents visible nd just a few protestors in view, though. It was a remarkably peaceful scene, as if people were attending summer camp under the bank.
posted by bearwife at 10:09 PM on November 3, 2011


Not everyone agrees…

Actually, I found Coyne's column pretty interesting... At least he did a little research and analysis. And, based on some Stats Can research I linked to in another thread, this is true:

Outside of recession years, median incomes have in fact grown steadily. In the long boom from 1993 to 2008, for example, median family income grew by 21.5 per cent after inflation.

What Coyne doesn't talk about is youth unemployment in British Columbia - it's at least 15%. BC has the highest unemployment rate in Canada west of New Brunswick.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:12 PM on November 3, 2011


Having attended OSW events in Victoria, I have to say the movement is pretty damned ineffective. People smoking pot. Bongo drums. Flutes. Comical cardboard signs.

Please tell me they don't have puppets and stilts.
posted by atrazine at 10:17 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


O Canada. We in the U.S. actually fought a revolution once before. Against the British, eh?
I'm going to just politely mention the War of 1812 and try not to derail the thread.

We are all equally able to vote with our dollars.
If voting is done with dollars, then those with more money get more votes. What's equal about that?
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:19 PM on November 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I would say it's more of a typical Victoria vibe. Laid back, far less edgy than Vancouver.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:20 PM on November 3, 2011


>We are all equally able to vote with our dollars.

If voting is done with dollars, then those with more money get more votes. What's equal about that?


Theoretically, we all have an equal opportunity to earn money; in practice, this is not true, which is why the concept of equity is so important.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:23 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


BC has the highest unemployment rate in Canada west of New Brunswick.

According to Stats Can data from Sept, BC's umemployment rate is 6.7% which is lower than Quebec at 7.3% and Ontario at 7.6% - and lower than the national average of 7.1%

Stats Can Data for Sept 2011
posted by helmutdog at 10:27 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had not seen this new data - good news, thanks!

It seems that BC enjoyed significant employment gains since I last paid attention:

Employment in British Columbia rose by 32,000, all in full-time work. This was the first notable employment gain since July 2010. The unemployment rate fell by 0.8 percentage points to 6.7% in September.

Last time I checked, BC's unemployment rate was something like 7.5%, which must have been higher than Quebec and Ontario at the time (probably during the summer).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:34 PM on November 3, 2011


Occupy Vancouver: City officials have mostly taken a "watch and wait" approach, though the protest has dominated the municipal election campaign.

I've never followed municipal politics in Vancouver before this year, and it's about time I started paying attention. I can tell you despite not being impressed with Occupy Vancouver, I was disappointed in PNA for jumping on Occupy Vancouver before they had even done anything disruptive. Between that and blaming unions for the budget deficit, there's no chance they're getting my vote.
posted by Hoopo at 10:35 PM on November 3, 2011


NPA rather.
posted by Hoopo at 10:37 PM on November 3, 2011


Having attended OSW events in Victoria, I have to say the movement is pretty damned ineffective. People smoking pot. Bongo drums. Flutes. Comical cardboard signs. If the movement really wanted to ruffle feathers, they would set up shop on the Legislature Lawn, which is also roped off at this time of year in order to prevent damage to the grass.

I'm actually really tired and irritated of these "YOU'RE NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH LOOK SOMEONE IS SMOKING WEED AND PLAYING A BONGO DUMB HIPPIES" arguments, because if people actually got "serious" and took it to active resistance like resisting unlawful, unconstitutional arrest while engaging in civil disobedience, or economic "violence" like a full on General Strike than suddenly they're too serious.

Or, heaven forbid, an actually violent insurrection or revolution.

If you're making these judgments about the OWS movement from surface, or what you can see just walking by on the street, or a few visits without attending or starting workshops, or what the news tells you - you're not seeing the entire story at all.

There are ongoing, offsite actions like teach-ins and boycotts being organized through the networking that has gone on specifically because of the Occupy Wall Street movement, because people have finally been able to network locally and meet new people face to face and then follow that up with real organization and effective action.

Every time I go down to the Seattle protests there's new faces, people who have never protested or become involved with anything in their life. People are waking up to the very real inequalities and very real conspiracies to commit large scale fraud and crime against citizens. I've seen moms and dads with their kids, I've seen pissed off grandmas waving signs, I've seen Tea Party members, Veterans, Labor and even a couple of off-duty cops actively engaging in discussions about what to do, or what we can do.

And I've also seen a lot of stinky hippie kids, homeless people and even junkies. But guess what!? They're the ones with the will, the time and the balls and/or ovaries to actually hold down a plaza or park for truly free public use, 24/7. They're the ones with nothing left to lose. And they're often the ones that need change and equality the most, and they have as much right to be there as you do.

Discarding everything else going on just because a small fraction of the people there are smoking pot or playing drums is foolish and ignorant.

It's elitism, and it's what people do when they make excuses to themselves about why they can't join - when the real solution is that we need you down there making your voice, ideas and opinions heard and balancing out the (sorry, hippie foks) often fluffy-minded ideas that have been proven not to work so well on national or global scales.

This is what real democracy looks like. It's messy. It takes a lot of work and time. It's not as simple or immediate as voting one of two nearly identical party platforms. It doesn't have instant gratification like microwave popcorn or a TV show with a tidy ending.
posted by loquacious at 10:42 PM on November 3, 2011 [33 favorites]


Heh, a reader commenting on a story in the Vancouver Sun described NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton like this:

In any case, she comes across as a old Socred windbag. Lurches from one opportunistic issue to another with a simplistic approach. Would have been perfect 40 years ago. Doesn't matter who endorses her.

posted by KokuRyu at 10:42 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was going to give you a hard time for skipping right over Winnipeg, mek, but the news doesn't seem quite as recent as the links above. Anyone know what's happening there?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:43 PM on November 3, 2011


loquacious, you need to come up to Victoria or Vancouver to get a first hand view of the situation on the ground. Then make an informed statement.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:44 PM on November 3, 2011


In the U.S., protesters are greeted with pepper spray and rubber bullets

In my day we had pepper spray for breakfast.
posted by Hoopo at 10:48 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Coyne cherrypicks shit and shows that he hasn't been listening to protesters.

The Occupy movement in Canada wants to bring issues like the class warfare the Harper government is waging on unionised workers by intervening in private labour disputes; the complete failure of the Canadian government to supply our First Nations reserves with basic infrastructure like clean drinking water and roads; the Conservative attacks on the Wheat Board; the subsidies for the oil industry and the failure to hold them to account for the environmental damage they are wreaking, etc. Those are just four off the top of my head, and barely exhaust the list of grievances I've heard people speak about.

It's true, due to a different financial set up we don't have the same problems as America. But we certainly have many serious problems worth protesting and worth putting pressure on Harper to do something about.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:50 PM on November 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Also - these spaces people are trying to build with "Occupying Everything" aren't just about protests or "ruffling feathers".

It's very much about how we really don't have the freedom to assemble - unless it's in pre-approved formats that usually only involve commerce. A coffee shop isn't a "free space". Neither is a movie theater, or a football game, or a church. Hell, raves were barely "free speech zones", even if you could actually hear anything besides bass.

Whenever people have actually tried to put to practice a Humanist concept like "freedom to assemble" on large scales - they've been broken up by the establishment.

It's not "free" if it requires a permit. It's not free speech if you have to be given permission to speak.

It's not just about protesting or maintaining a presence. It's about maintaining and building safe spaces to finally start honestly communicating with each other and freely associating to get important, good work done.

I didn't realize these things so clearly until I saw them in action. I, too, have been annoyed by the hippies, the anarchist black bloc and other extremist or fringe positions. I, too, have bee annoyed by mushy-speaking protesters that somehow end up in front of TV news cameras spouting off whatever random thoughts come to their minds.

But they're individuals, not the movement. They can't actually speak for me. Only I can speak for me.
posted by loquacious at 10:51 PM on November 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


I remember when the Liberals were first elected in BC, there was a huge occupation of the Legislature lawn for about a month. To borrow a line from Vonnegut "It had all the impact of a 6 foot wide banana creme pie dropped from a stepladder".

OWS has an impact because it's resonating with Americans. Any protest movement can only be effective if it can connect with the population at large. The issues Pseudo brings up above are important but they don't have the wider traction with Canadians that "WALL STREET STOLE ALL OUR FUCKING MONEY" does with Americans. More's the pity.
posted by Grimgrin at 10:53 PM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


loquacious, you need to come up to Victoria or Vancouver to get a first hand view of the situation on the ground. Then make an informed statement.

True, I haven't been there. But I'm doubtful that either of those cities can out-hippie or black-bloc Seattle. I know what problems and turn-offs you speak of really well. I've had run ins with everyone from card carrying Marxists to LaRouche-grade libertarian wingnuts weilding "Obama = Hitler" signs.

So I think I can fairly and reasonably accurately extrapolate what you're dealing with. I agree, it's extremely frustrating.
posted by loquacious at 10:54 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's frustrating, per se, it's just very Victoria. Like I said earlier in the thread, it's more laid-back here, and the Occupy camp is located in a public square that has never been embraced by locals as a gathering place. Indeed, it's usually served as a congregation place for homeless folks.

So if they were really serious, they would set up camp on the Legislature lawn (and mess up the grass). People have done it in the recent past.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:59 PM on November 3, 2011


Grim> One thing Occupy Toronto is trying to do is educate people on those very issues and get people talking about them. They're not doing a ton of media outreach, but I don't blame them, because media outreach is wildly over-rated in terms of effectiveness. But there's a lot more awareness about these issues amongst the people who have shown they are actually willing to do something about them, and there's a lot of alliance building going on between the participating organisations.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:59 PM on November 3, 2011


Loquacious, the Canadian Occupations take place in public space, parks and squares funded by our taxes. Things are different up here.

Pseudoephedrine, while I totally agree that these are worthy demands to make, if the issue can be boiled down to "fuck Harper" then I don't think that the Occupy Mobilizations are necessarily the best way to address the concerns.

Voter reform, making sure we're meeting the needs of Aboriginal communities, both on reservations and elsewhere, the Alberta oil situation... these are specific demands. Unlike the general malcontents of Occupy. I think allying too closely with the mobilizations wont serve us.
posted by emilycardigan at 10:59 PM on November 3, 2011


Emily> Fragmentation and atomisation don't help anyone. The Occupy movement provides a big tent (pardon the pun) to bring all of these issues together and discuss them, to build alliances between organisations and to advocate for them in solidarity. They're all interrelated, the response ought to be at least as coordinated as that.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:02 PM on November 3, 2011


If only Jack Layton were alive today, I am sure he could help focus and cement the OWS movement in Canada. Where the hell is the NDP in all of this?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:06 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have to say that at first - I was a little peeved with the OWS protesters in Vancouver for not having a more defined To Do list - but you know what? That's my issue - not the protesters. The very act of showing discontent as a group is important - if for no other reason to show some solidarity with other left leaning activists - to show that liberals still have a political voice and won't be cowed by years of beating down by Fox News and Tea Party screamers.

And Susan Anton is an idiot to even considering using force the OWS to move from the Art Gallery. They have been completely peaceful. Leave them the fuck alone. If they have to move the stupid corporate sponsored Santa Parade a couple of blocks over - so be it.
posted by helmutdog at 11:08 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Loquacious, the Canadian Occupations take place in public space, parks and squares funded by our taxes. Things are different up here.

And today, precisely because the location is public space, funded by our taxes, you have the local Vancouver fire department playing the heavy hand (as is their legal responsibility) of demanding that there be no open flame anywhere on the site, which will effectively remove any heat from the situation through the winter, which will make enduring the worst of the weather that much more of a struggle. If this were happening on some secluded beach, or deep in the woods, or up the back of some mountain, there'd be no such restrictions.

So we get back to the notion that true freedom is not something that can be granted by some government or power, but something that must be taken by individuals. Direct action as it were.

I look forward to seeing how this plays out.
posted by philip-random at 11:24 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having attended OSW events in Victoria, I have to say the movement is pretty damned ineffective. People smoking pot. Bongo drums. Flutes. Comical cardboard signs.

Please tell me they don't have puppets and stilts.


Uh, that's pretty much Broadway/Commercial SkyTrain station on any given evening.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:25 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


A little off topic, but I walked by the site of Victoria's occupy camp today. Two days ago it was mostly broken up because they are getting ready to decorate the big tree (right in the middle of where the protesters were camped out) for Christmas, as they do every year.

Today the square was mostly empty, save for a single man who was praying for the tree. Naked.

Can't say you see that very often downtown Victoria.
posted by addelburgh at 11:35 PM on November 3, 2011


My issue with the occupy Vancouver, is I'm not really sure what the art gallery did wrong. Display some bad art recently? Doesn't seem worth protesting it. I think the building is nice enough so probably not that either.
posted by fruit sandwich at 11:51 PM on November 3, 2011


So if they were really serious, they would set up camp on the Legislature lawn (and mess up the grass). People have done it in the recent past.

Stop telling us and go tell them.
posted by one_bean at 11:55 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I checked out the Occupy Vancouver site a few nights after it started. Comically, I had just got out of a movie theatre, was walking by at about 11:45, saw bikes, heard drums, smelled pot, and assumed Midnight Critical Mass had been revived, so headed in.

But really it seemed like a big jumbled mix of both KokuRyu's and loquacious' descriptions. Some of the people there do just seem to be 'hanging out' because its the place to be, but a lot of others were very anxious to have proper discussions, offer their take on what they hope to accomplish (although there was nothing close to a common motivation that I could discern).

Additionally, since then I've heard through my friend-grapevine of two separate people who were having roommate troubles at home. Both apparently said 'Screw You!' and rather than pay rent, moved their stuff out and went downtown to live in their tent. Not sure what to think of that.

In conclusion, I don't know what to make of this Occupy Movement ... but it seems neither do most of the participants.
posted by mannequito at 11:56 PM on November 3, 2011


Like Zuccotti Park, the VAG plaza is not city-owned land, so the city bylaws which ban tents and structures do not apply. For this reason it is often a site of protest, which the Art Gallery tolerates. (In addition to that, Vancouver and Victoria had some legal troubles with that particular bylaw as of late, due to a court ruling last year which permitted sleeping overnight in parks. The city can only ban tents on thoroughfares.) This is a good article on the subject. It's likely that tomorrow's action is the legal limit of what can be done by the city.

This is why the pressure on various Occupy sites is focused on fire and safety regulations: because those are laws which apply equally to private land.
posted by mek at 12:07 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uh, that's pretty much Broadway/Commercial SkyTrain station on any given evening.

That's not true. I can literally lean back while typing this comment and see that intersection. There's no stilts and puppets that I've ever seen. Comm'n'Broad is more like a cesspool of drug dealers being arrested, young professionals spilling pizza sauce on their expensive clothes, skid punks dangling takeout coffee cups on makeshift fishing rods, and usually at least one couple having a drunken public breakup.

The stilts, puppets and lanterns crowd congregate at Trout Lake 3 blocks south.
posted by mannequito at 12:13 AM on November 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


and usually at least one couple having a drunken public breakup.

On a related note, did you know it's actually a legal requirement that some drunk chick scream "FUCK YOU RAY!!!" within a three-block radius of Main and Hastings at least once in any given 24-hour period? It's a fact!
posted by moneyjane at 1:10 AM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


You know who else wanted to occupy Wall St?
posted by telstar at 1:26 AM on November 4, 2011


France kind of did this in 1968, and they are masters of letting protests get out of hand without really knowing in any clear way what they want, and they did actually get some shit changed! However, they did not manage to get the spirit of the sixties to take hold culturally, the same way Simone de Beauvoir did not convince them that the sexes were actually equal, or the way Bob Marley convinced them to wear dreadlocks but not take the time out of their "busy" vacation-filled schedules to understand the lyrics and learn to love everyone, including the people who don't look like them.

So, you know. There's that to look forward to.
posted by Mooseli at 3:16 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've twice visited occupy LSX on the steps of St Paul's in London, but if I were back home in Vancouver I likely would have visited the VAG. There's been fascinating developments here including a total about-face from the church which is now roughly aligning with OWS and proposing steps to start a meaningful long-term public discussion about poverty and inequality. A major industrial union just passed a strike vote and will be walking at the end of the month. There is a protest planned about student tuition hikes this week. All of these actions are announced and co-ordinated on the steps of the great cathedral; all around artwork, posters, and articles cover the nearby columns and archways. There is an urgency and a presence that stirs the soul here, and I feel like the occupation provides something vitally missing to all those in the city who might be sympathetic to the various causes -- a nexus and a gathering place. Which is globally linked to hundreds of similar spaces around the globe. There are networks being built and knowledge being learned and shared in a way I personallyhave never seen before. It is kind of amazing, isn't it, that every one of us has an occupy camp nearby where we can go to discuss and learn about these issues, participate if we like, even shape the movement.

Vancouver is a different place. It lacks the urgency of the big busy cities. But don't dismiss the movement based on what you see in the smaller cities; it is much bigger and deeper than that.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:27 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have to say, I find the support of some elements of the Church of England for the Occupy protests to be very heartening. It's nice to see Christians defending the weak and seeking social justice for a change - I've always rather liked the Social Gospel (I'm quite fond of Christianity and the Social Crisis, for example).
posted by lucien_reeve at 3:31 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's been a lot of heartening and warm church folks at OWS stuff, too. Unitarians and Quakers and stuff, which I suppose isn't capital-C "Church" to some folks. Getting Union and Veteran folks involved has been great, too. Teachers and professors, too.

Now if we can just get the police and military to see that we need them to peacefully join us and that it's good for them, too, well... we'll be on to something really good.

Seriously, I've never seen such broad cross-spectrums of humanity and demographics in one place ever in my life. That's worth something just by itself.
posted by loquacious at 3:54 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My photo set from the Occupy Toronto march to Nathan Phillips Square, Oct 22. There was a good dedicated bunch of people on-message, and then about again as many people there for the lulz, and then about as many people again with cameras. The cops were well behaved, even cheerful. It's ten degrees cooler now. And next month it'll be frigid. So, yeah, yurts or not I'm thinking it's going to simmer down for the winter but roar back in April because the problems aren't going away. And Fucking Rob Ford just doesn't know when to leave well enough alone; he'll keep picking at the scab every week or so.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:36 AM on November 4, 2011


> Not everyone agrees…

I liked Maclean's a lot more when it was a boring Time knockoff I read at my grandparents' place instead of a Reform Party propaganda rag.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:07 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I liked Maclean's a lot more when it was a boring Time knockoff I read at my grandparents' place instead of a Reform Party propaganda rag.

I actually wrote "You are a terrible publication that is bad for the public discourse in this country, and I hope you go out of business" on one of those stupid mailers they send and mailed it back to them. I know it won't make any sort of real difference, but it burned $0.50 in postage fees for them, and it made me feel better.
posted by Shepherd at 5:54 AM on November 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


I had the pleasure of educating my eldest niece about OWS on Saturday as we drove to the National Arts Centre for a concert with my mother. We passed Confederation Square, where the Occupy Ottawa protest is taking place. My niece asked what the tents were all about, and I attempted to explain what the protesters were doing there and why they were protesting. My mother provided the "ugh, dirty hippies, don't they have a job" counterpoint, but we parlayed that into a discussion of why the protest was important and why, yes, some people don't have jobs and can occupy the park 24/7. Then we talked about the cold, and what the protesters will do then. Then she asked if kids protested too.

Damn, I'm proud of my niece.
posted by LN at 6:17 AM on November 4, 2011


You know, I am getting tired of Canadian letters to Mefi that seem to exploit things like Americans not knowing Andrew Coyne is a right wing dick, or that MacLeans is the right wing dick magazine of note.
posted by mobunited at 6:25 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah, General Winter. I wonder if many civic centers will let them continue on inside (aha-ha).
posted by LD Feral at 6:28 AM on November 4, 2011


You know, I am getting tired of Canadian letters to Mefi that seem to exploit things like Americans not knowing Andrew Coyne is a right wing dick

Andrew Coyne is, at most, a center-right Red Tory dick. Understand that the cited column ends with him saying that the real problem is that the Canadian government is not giving poor people enough money, and it needs to be giving them tens of billions of dollars of more money and programs and support. That is in no way "right wing."

(Maclean's is, granted, mostly a junk rag readable only for a few of its columnists and a usually-decent arts section when Mark Steyn isn't babbling in it.)
posted by mightygodking at 7:09 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was going to give you a hard time for skipping right over Winnipeg, mek, but the news doesn't seem quite as recent as the links above. Anyone know what's happening there?

My impression is that no body cares much one way or another as long as there isn't any shootings or stabbery.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:33 AM on November 4, 2011


Wait wait wait. The video on Occupy Ottawa linked on the post, is that shit for real? C'mon guys, you have to be fucking kidding me. Is that the utopia you're trying to sell me?
posted by falameufilho at 7:40 AM on November 4, 2011


I'm near Edmonton. I find the protests encouraging and fascinating, but the one here really seems to be focused around a small group of people that are able and willing to camp out for days in a park. That's all well and good, but Alberta actually has a fairly low unemployment rate. For the movement to be successful here it's going to have to figure out how to appeal to working people, because hell, around here we don't have the time or will to sleep in a park. Organizing around homelessness, foreclosures, joblessness, and other issues like that won't get the same broad appeal here that you'd find in other places.

They're trying to set up for winter camping now, but honestly, I'm not sure what the point is. Solidarity is one thing, but I don't think that this particular action is going to have any resonance here. It needs to be spearheaded by people that understand working Albertans, and know how to appeal to them. Something the left has failed to do in these parts for the better part of forty years.


END RANT!
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:57 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


>>Theoretically, we all have an equal opportunity to earn money; in practice, this is not true, which is why the concept of equity is so important.

"Voting with our dollars" is a fallacious idea. The destructive behavior of most corporations is not directly exposed to consumer buying habits. How, for instance, are we supposed to boycott Halliburton?
posted by JHarris at 9:06 AM on November 4, 2011


I've said it before, I'll no doubt say it again.

The only positive purpose that I can see so far in the OWS movement (and it's damned positive and purposeful) is to keep the issue of big biz/big gov corruption and cynicism in plain sight -- the insatiably hungry and reptilian one percent vs the rest of us.

And so far, I gotta say it's working.

The degree to which the pot smokin, drum bangin, stilt walkin hippie types can draw the spotlight and be pointed at and laughed off (and conversely, the black-hooded types can be spotted and feared) is the degree to which this thing will fail. That's why I've got to say I like that winter is approaching in these northern climes. What we're about to see, I think, is a riff on the grasshopper and the ants thing. A few weeks of bitter rain, snow, sleet, wind COLD and I suspect we'll lose all the grasshoppers and at the same time get a clearer focus on how many ants there are.

Interesting times.
posted by philip-random at 9:08 AM on November 4, 2011


"Voting with our dollars" is a fallacious idea. The destructive behavior of most corporations is not directly exposed to consumer buying habits. How, for instance, are we supposed to boycott Halliburton?

Well, my comment was intended to be ironic.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:59 AM on November 4, 2011


I'm going to be quasi off topic here but: I had no idea there was anyone even Occupying Edmonton. Granted I haven't been downtown in a while, but still it clearly hasn't had a big impact.
posted by selenized at 2:14 PM on November 4, 2011


Over a dozen links to news stories about an anti-corporate movement, and not one of them from a non-corporate source.

Which came first, the dismissive tone, or the choice of links?
posted by regicide is good for you at 3:10 PM on November 4, 2011


I gotta say, I feel much safer heading over to a show at the Jack Singer or dinner at Teatro knowing the Occupy Calgary folks are camped at Olympic Plaza. The city gets its CPTED eyes and ears without spending a penny for it. I hope they stay there.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:25 PM on November 4, 2011


Over a dozen links to news stories about an anti-corporate movement, and not one of them from a non-corporate source.

Got any non-corporate sources you would like to point us at?
posted by KokuRyu at 3:49 PM on November 4, 2011


Ah, General Winter.

In Vancouver, Field Marshal Downpour arrived weeks ago, and will continue to besiege the camp for the next six months. One of the main logistical challenges has been setting up wooden pallets underneath each tent and along the walkways so that Major Mud can't bring all activity to a halt. Bombardier* Snow might show up once or twice this winter, but in Vancouver he's a trivial threat. As for Captain Cold, our only hope is the Flash.

* This is a real rank in the Canadian Forces, equivalent to Corporal. Our army is the best army

I wonder if many civic centers will let them continue on inside (aha-ha).

Don't laugh. It would be helpful if neighbors would be willing to let Occupy Vancouver use some indoor spaces, e.g. moving the Media tent to a Media room. Only diehards are going to stand outside all winter, so the more opportunity there is for people to carry on talking about OV under a roof the more reasonable OV is going to be.

The degree to which the pot smokin, drum bangin, stilt walkin hippie types can draw the spotlight and be pointed at and laughed off (and conversely, the black-hooded types can be spotted and feared) is the degree to which this thing will fail.

I agree. Have you considered speaking up to make your reasonable voice heard? The organizers know that normal people have jobs and families, and want to make it easy for someone to drop in once in a blue moon and be heard.

Occupy Vancouver is ruled by a direct-democratic General Assembly which meets at 7pm every day at the Art Gallery outdoors at the bottom of the steps. It's open to all Vancouverites. If you want to hang out and watch, you can do that. If you want to indicate your approval/disapproval of what is being said, they use hand signals so that everyone can do that simultaneously.** If you as a member of the general public have a proposal you'd like to make, they will put you in the queue.* (ask someone to show you where to stand, etc.) They've recently changed the procedure for long proposals (typed, more than one paragraph) requiring that they be put on display at the info tent 24 hours prior so that they can be read in advance, something like that. (I'm unsure -- you'd have to ask)

**hands raised and waggling for silent applause, thumbs down for strong disapproval. OV signals are slightly different from OWS hand signals. Hand signals may sound silly, but OV's hand signals keep the Assembly moving.

Only the most broad-based proposals are going to achieve the required 90%+ consensus required to pass, but anyone can try. If you make a deliberately hostile proposal you're likely to receive thumbs-down, but if your idea is halfway sensible it will be discussed and may receive friendly amendments.

I'm minimally involved, but I'm proud of having co-sponsored a proposal which passed (co-sponsored along with a man named Yann who I had not previously met). The media was claiming that Occupy Vancouver was responsible for Occupy the Vatican's planned attack to disrupt Catholic Church services, with rumors that other downtown churches would be targetted. On Saturday, we proposed to the GA that*** "Because our meetings are open to the public it should be unnecessary to state, as a matter of fact, that the General Assembly has never approved disruptive attacks on any religious services or on nonreligious groups. However, the GA reaffirms that we have not and will never approve of disruptive attacks on any religious services." Immediate 100% approval. After two First Nations Elders and several others present spoke to discuss their experiences with Occupy the Vatican leader Kevin Annett, the motion was ammended to include explicit condemnation of Occupy the Vatican.

It's easy. a General Assembly is worth attending once if only out of curiosity. It's a messy attempt at a new way of meeting democratically.

***We did this orally, and this is how I remember our proposal -- the minutes should be similar. Yann wanted to add an apology to the Catholic Church, an idea which did not have my support and which did not receive consensus in the GA (rightly, I think, as we had done nothing requiring an apology). To achieve consensus, I'd been careful to word the proposal in an unobjectionable way, and I recommend that you do the same if you've got an idea.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:38 PM on November 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


A little off topic, but I walked by the site of Victoria's occupy camp today. Two days ago it was mostly broken up because they are getting ready to decorate the big tree (right in the middle of where the protesters were camped out) for Christmas, as they do every year.

Today the square was mostly empty, save for a single man who was praying for the tree. Naked.

Can't say you see that very often downtown Victoria.


Actually, the Occupy Victoria camp in Centennial Square is still going strong. All that happened was that city staff asked campers to vacate the area at the base of the Sequoia fir at the Douglas Street side of the camp. However, the paved parts of the square itself (down towards the fountains, the McPherson Playhouse and Government Street are still full of tents.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:46 PM on November 4, 2011


Got any non-corporate sources you would like to point us at?

This would be one, right in your back yard too.

http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2011/11/01/Occupy-Coverage/
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 8:37 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I agree the Vancouver Sun was dismissive of the Occupy folks, but that paper has always had a right-wing hard-on.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:11 PM on November 4, 2011


I haven't read the Sun regularly in 20 years or so; but then again, Vancouver has always been poorly served by English language newspapers. The Tyee can be a great resource for BC news, and a lot of their contributors are ex Southam news people who were downsized or chased away by the rising tide of right wing bilge in the last 20 years. World class city indeed.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:07 PM on November 4, 2011


Frances Bula is pretty awesome. She was also fired by the Sun.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:27 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


regicide, I'll admit I'm kind of embarassed I didn't link any Tyee or Mainlander in the main post, since I read them daily. However, I was trying to cover the municipalities' response, which I find interesting in its consistency, rather than the Occupy movement itself, which I think is already well served by many metafilter threads. Municipalities talk to the MSM pretty much exclusively. I didn't feel the need to defend Occupy any more than MeFi already has and risk "editorializing," and I think a really good conversation came out of that choice.

All that said, I tried my best to dodge the actively inflammatory corporate stories (which was very difficult).

If anyone has any great national Canada politics blogs they know of, I'd love to add them to my regular reading list.
posted by mek at 1:49 AM on November 5, 2011


a General Assembly is worth attending once if only out of curiosity. It's a messy attempt at a new way of meeting democratically.

I can't second this enough. They're fascinating, frustrating, inspirational and ridiculous, sometimes all at once.

Seriously, if there are Occupy GAs happening in your town and you haven't stopped by to watch at least one, you're making a mistake.
posted by mediareport at 6:34 AM on November 5, 2011


They're fascinating, frustrating, inspirational and ridiculous, sometimes all at once.

Yeah, but I wouldn't so readily put fascinating and inspirational in the same sentence as frustrating and ridiculous. I haven't been to any of OWS stuff (yet) but I have done my time in a few variants of the General Assembly concept.

To me, the key issue is the size of the group. Keep the numbers down and they sort of work. But it very quickly (say anything past about three dozen heads) becomes far more a study in frustration than inspiration.

Because it ain't real discussion. It's too unwieldy for the right kind of give and take. It's just a kind of ongoing elaboration of exactly what's wrong with trying to get that many people in the same space and give them all "equal voice". It's not natural.

What works far better to me is breaking the big group into much smaller clusters (half dozen heads at the most) and working up from there. It's got it's own complexities (committees feeding sub-committees etc) but handled with care (ie: never letting any group or sub-group get too big), it's amazing how effectively it "gives voice".

Needless to say, this is a long and complex topic.
posted by philip-random at 10:47 AM on November 5, 2011


Occupy Vancouver death confirmed. "Police say a woman in her 20s was found unresponsive inside a tent at the encampment at about 4:30 p.m. PT Saturday. She was taken to hospital by ambulance, where she later died. Her name has not been released."
posted by mek at 7:59 PM on November 5, 2011


.


heroin. how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.
posted by philip-random at 9:05 PM on November 5, 2011


Mayor plans to shut down Occupy after woman dies at camp.

"The statistic is that there were 125 overdoses that resulted in death last year in the Downtown Eastside, and I'm wondering how many of those were... big news, yet somehow these problems showing up at Occupy Vancouver are a media circus," [said Kagis the on-site medic]. Kagis says medics on site attended to the woman within seconds of her discovery and that all appropriate protocols were followed.
posted by mek at 10:21 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The statistic is that there were 125 overdoses that resulted in death last year in the Downtown Eastside

That's why the mayor has ordered everyone out of the Downtown East Side and into affordable housing provided by...
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:29 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shutdown of Occupy Victoria imminent. Victoria’s mayor said Saturday the city is planning an imminent shutdown of the Occupy encampment in Centennial Square, saying it’s reached an unsafe level that is no longer serving its intended goal.

“I think we’re coming to a place where more and more, much like Vancouver, we’re getting concerned about the safety issues,” Dean Fortin said.
posted by mek at 2:49 AM on November 6, 2011


Shutdown of Occupy Victoria imminent.

I was surprised to read this morning that people marched on the Royal and TD bank branches at the intersection of Fort and Douglas, and undoubtedly this led to the more hardline stance by Victoria city council.

It's an interesting contrast between the mayors of Vancouver and Victoria. Over the past 3 years, Robertson has basically lurched from crisis to crisis (Olympic Village, Stanley Cup riots, Occupy Vancouver), and stands a real chance of not being re-elected. Fortin in Victoria has generally engaged different parts of the community with great success, and isn't facing any kind of meaningful challenger in the elections, and cracking down on the Centennial square camp will probably help earn him more votes.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:59 AM on November 6, 2011


Kagis says medics on site attended to the woman within seconds of her discovery and that all appropriate protocols were followed.

Why wasn't there appropriate harm reduction in place before she was found, especially as there was a non-fatal overdose a couple of days previously? Was the encampment's stated "discouragement" of drug and alcohol use to blame for her using in her tent away from other people, who might have resuscitated her after she nodded out?
posted by docgonzo at 7:44 PM on November 6, 2011


She was also fired by the Sun.

Pretty sure FB took a buy-out to freelance and develop her blog, no?

(Not to be stating anything to defend the Sun.)
posted by docgonzo at 7:45 PM on November 6, 2011


Was the encampment's stated "discouragement" of drug and alcohol use to blame for her using in her tent away from other people, who might have resuscitated her after she nodded out?

What do you propose? Waking up everyone sleeping in a tent every hour to make sure they're not deceased?
posted by mek at 7:54 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure FB took a buy-out to freelance and develop her blog, no?

I think she was laid off. I seem to recall there being a bit of a fuss when she left the Van Sun.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:43 PM on November 6, 2011


...the Canadian Occupations take place in public space, parks and squares funded by our taxes.

Actually, Occupy Edmonton is occupying a corporate-owned property.
posted by asnider at 4:58 PM on November 7, 2011


Meanwhile, in the UK Plastic bullets available to police for Wednesday's student protests: Scotland Yard says officers are free to use baton rounds in extreme cases but critics say tactic is 'appalling and un-British'
posted by KokuRyu at 9:34 PM on November 7, 2011


The Tyee's obituary for Ashlie Gough, the woman who died at Occupy Vancouver.
posted by twirlip at 5:07 PM on November 9, 2011


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