What to do with the Occupy camps. How about - let them be!
by Larry Powell
by Larry Powell
A peaceful campIt's hardly surprising.
The mood of Canada's elites is becoming increasingly ugly as the "Occupy" movement continues to "hang in there" for a lot longer than they likely expected.
It is, after all, what elites do. They simply cannot tolerate those who challenge the very system that keeps them in power.
Cops are already being ordered to start knocking some heads in some Canadian cities, as well as south of the border.
Neither is it surprising that some news media are misrepresenting what the movement is all about.
A recent editorial in the Dauphin Herald, for example, dismissed the protesters as "whiners," whose support is dwindling. (In fact, the movement has persisted and spread to many parts of the world.)
The editorial also proclaimed, "It was the squandering of tax dollars (by governments) which originally created the movement!"
The newspaper obviously got the Occupiers mixed up with their polar opposites, U.S. "Tea-Partiers," and Republicans, who are unbending in their support of tax cuts for the rich and cuts to health care and other government services which might help ordinary people!
While I have yet to hear a single Occupier defend government "squandering," it was actually the growing gap between the super rich and the rest of us, which motivated them. This is all made worse by the criminal actions of bankers and rich corporations (who still, to this day, run around Scott-free, while countless Occupiers have been jailed for exercising their democratic rights to freedom of speech and assembly!) Meanwhile, those "banksters" and other "upstanding paragons of corporate virtue," like British Petroleum, are given free-reign to exploit our resources and pollute our planet (all, tax-free, of course)!
Many Canadians seem to be under the impression that things are better here than in the 'States - that banks are better regulated, for example. That is true - partly.
But the belief that our big banks have been "soldiering on" without the help of our hard-earned dollars, is also a myth. According to one very capable, investigative columnist, the Harper Government quietly issued those banks a bailout amounting to $75 billion in 2008. Michel Chossudovsky heads the Montreal-based Centre for Research on Globalization. Chossudovsky claims that, taken on a per-capita basis, that is on par with the infamous bailouts the US government made of its own crooked and failed financial institutions a few years ago.
(Here, our own, "vigilant" corporate media seemed to have missed that story.)
Keep in mind these same banks, all five, invest billions in the Alberta tar sands, helping to destroy our natural world and climate, at the same time.
What is puzzling is how indignant some people are that homeless people are actually moving into the camps. Imagine that! A basic tenet of the "Occupy" movement is that we need a more even distribution of wealth. Why, then would they turn away those who are suffering the most from this imbalance?
I recently had the privilege of visiting the "Occupy Winnipeg" site, twice in October. Yes, there were homeless there, sitting around the bonfire, drinking the industrial-strength coffee, and sampling the occasional, meagre bit of food. (Which renders as doubly ludicrous, suggestions that they are there "just to have fun.") To me, their presence just proved that the movement is inclusive and hardly prepared to turn away our poorest, who perhaps themselves best exemplify the inequity with which our wealth is distributed.
It should also be noted that, on the first day of "Occupy Winnipeg" there were also working people, environmentalists, representatives of First Nations, the embattled Wheat Board, and so on.
One union representative there told me he believed Harper was out to crush the labour movement. He cited recent examples of how the government moved to bring ruthless ends to strikes in both the public and private sectors this year. Its back-to-work decrees, in both cases, came down with unprecedented haste. For postal workers, they imposed a lesser settlement than even the employer would have granted! For Air Canada flight attendants, the government locked in entry-level wages which are below the poverty line, while doing nothing to prevent obscene bonuses for corporate executives.
Was that labour rep wrong? I don't think so.
One of the speakers told the gathering on opening day, Harper had broken an election promise and abruptly ended funding to the Canadian Environmental Network. That has thrown the future of this group into disarray and uncertainty. The Network has been co-ordinating the activities of various Eco-groups across the country and helping governments implement enlightened legislation to safeguard our air, water and soil, for decades.
Does this strengthen the argument that, under Stephen Harper, Canada's policies are becoming the most hostile toward the environment of any nation in the world?
To suggest that this movement has been controlled by whiners and reduced to squatter camps is to do a great disservice to thousands of sincere, caring people, determined to build a better world.(All photos by PinP.)