Archive | Occupy RSS for this section

Performing Occupy Toronto

Performing Occupy Toronto,  Written by Rosamund Small Directed by Llyandra Jones

On the one-year anniversary. Where it all began. Witness a historical and relevant theatrical experiment.

October 15th marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of Occupy Toronto. In conjunction with this historic event, Docket Theatre presents Performing Occupy Toronto, a verbatim theatre piece based on the Occupy Toronto movement. Docket first premiered Rosamund Small’s original play at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse in June 2012, and is proud to remount this FREE site-specific production in the location where the occupation took place – St James Park.

An hour before the show, come experience Docket’s park-wide, multi-disciplinary carnival of expression! Over 30 young artists from different backgrounds (including spoken word, dance, music, visual art, busking, etc) will share pieces inspired by political and social issues in Toronto over the past year. Artists will explore how Occupy’s call to action has influenced Torontonians over the past year and what the future holds.

Performing Occupy Toronto is a script taken word-for- word from real life interviews at the Occupy Toronto Protest in 2011. It charts the beginning of the occupation at St. James Park, the conflict within the movement, and the eventual eviction. Small’s composition weaves together the events of the occupation with impartiality, respect and humanity, creating a story full of wit, emotional insight and political charge.

Through the evening events, artists will explore how Occupy’s call to action has evolved over the past year

Media Wrench Vault Series: Eviction/the Art of War

When the police evicted the people from the camp at St James in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, they brought eviction notices for all the tents. Union members from all over came to show solidarity. Upon receiving the notices, the camp went into full swing, calling out for support and preparing themselves for the hardest part of the 40 day Occupy in Toronto. Many came out to show their support, and momentum was at its fullest when… Nothing happened. The momentum from the support shown made the Toronto Police decide to use the reaction as a tactical opportunity. Every day they would post notices on the tents declaring they would be removed that at midnight, and everyone would rally against the coming opposition. Five days into this (part of the) psychological operation, they posted one final note, and took advantage of the exhaustion the next morning to evict Occupy Toronto in a move straight out of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

Induce them to adopt specific formations

Test them to find out where they are sufficient and where they are lacking.

When you do battle, even if you are winning, if you continue for a long time it will dull your forces and blunt your edge; if you besiege a citadel, your strength will be exhausted. If you keep your armies out in the field for a long time, your supplies will be insufficient.

Learn what you can from this classic tactic.

Anonymous OTP post via pastebin: Declaration of Unity

We found this piece on Pastebin through a tweet. There are many differences between the Tea Party and the Occupy movements, but what they can all agree upon is that the financial system is dysfunctional, the corporations buy the politicians through donation and what is known as ‘crony capitalism’. It would be great if the two groups could put aside their differences for a moment to agree on this:
Posted by Kris Harrison
Author Unknown

“The left and right have been resolved. We are going to focus on ignoring the mainstream media, because the job they’ve done has been appalling. Instead we will focus on verified and accurate information from independent sources. When in doubt, ask each other. We all have some very hard truths we are going to have to recognize, as we have been being lied to for a very, very long time. We will stand together, as American citizens, regardless of politics, religion, race or creed. A melting pot. That’s what America’s always been best at. It’s time we got that back.

We will have no violence, no bickering and no fighting. We will be peaceful, polite and obey the law, beyond the exciting new ones outlawing the first amendment. We will not rest and we will not stop until the US government once again respects the will of its citizens. We want our country and our planet back.

What can you do? Stop believing your media for a start. Question everything. Listen to each other regardless of your politics. There are dire signs and warnings we all need to be aware of. Share your ideas and stop letting them divide us along stupid party lines. You don’t have to agree on everything, nor will you. But that’s ok. If you don’t agree on a topic, move on to something else. Politely. As we progress we will find more and more issues we agree on, slowly field candidates for office and put pressure on our elected representatives to remind them that they work for *us*, not the other way around. Organize a massive bi-partisan write in campaign. March outside the homes and offices of these people until they finally realize that we will no longer tolerate their greed and lies. Everyone deserves a voice, but we must make sure what’s said is true and accurate. Do not let them divide you any longer. We are all Americans.

Therefor, we, citizens of America, conservatives, liberals, democrats and republicans are proud to stand together. We hereby announce the Occupy Tea Party. We cordially invite all members of both movements to participate, along with any individual concerned about retaining their freedom and the sovergnity of the Bill of Rights. However, we would ask that they do so politely and while conducting themselves with honor, tolerance and integrity. We are not socialists, we are not anarchists, we are not racists, we’re not hippies or rednecks. We are concerned citizens who have had enough of the government we put in power ignoring our voices.

The people, united, will never be defeated. There is no problem this country has that we can not solve, provided we work together.

Expect us.”

Editorial – Jared: Occupy the Good Fight…

In the past couple of weeks and especially going into the month of May, a summer of discontent amongst Canadians is beginning to emerge.  When the narrative of the 99% against the 1% went global at the beginning of Occupy, more momentum for activism has brought many issues of social injustice, the environment and financial disparity into the light bringing together many groups to help strengthen the multitude of messages to help our fellow citizens fight for their rights.  The opposition from the 1% to individuals who have taken the initiative to stand up and speak out about these issues is quite clear; Put up or Shut up.

The current government has done nearly everything to keep its political power strong both on the Hill and locally to infiltrate the well-being of everyday Canadians at every turn.  More people are beginning to wake up to the plight of public officials who continue to defy the rule of law and accountability in favor of profits and the furthering of a destructive global agenda .  As our freedoms and rights become further eroded, we, the people, stand to lose much more than we ever thought.  Perhaps one day it might be illegal to speak out, perhaps one day what we do online is not private and perhaps, worst of all, we will continue to see the persistent deterioration of our liberties to the point where we will not be able to recognize our own country.  Many believe that it’s happening right now and that it might be already too late.

I encourage all Canadians to wake up and figure out who is in this fight and help them bring justice to those who have made their illegal business and political practices to the fore and let them know that the people won’t stand for it.  In recent times, there have been forces at play to make sure that these messages not come out, to prevent the gathering of those who take part in peaceful direct-action and, also, to be constantly watching our private communications to make any opposition to the status quo more destructive than what those in power are doing to us in reality.  Occupy is a vessel for awareness and discussion but there are many other groups who have been around for a long time who have been working for much longer to fight the good fight.  We are even seeing organized labor as a major player in rallying against those in government who continue to make life difficult for working-class people time and time again.

With so much at stake, it is up to all of us who are in the position to help the people stand up to keep pushing in their struggle against the 1% and make their voices heard.  Everyone has a part to play in trying to fix the biggest attack on our civil liberties to date.  It’s unconscionable that those in power were even allowed to carry out their attacks on the working poor, the disabled and minority groups alike for a future that benefits fewer people.  The 1% want us in debt, take lower wages, criminalize political dissent, and attacked for even bringing up any notion of rallying support for just causes.  The environment, accountability in government, and the protection of our privacy are the most crucial issues that we as the people have to fight for despite the fact we’ve lost so much of each already; we need to take our freedoms and our country back.  It shouldn’t be up to corporations and their perceived personhood to dictate the agenda of our government and public officials  in the interest of profit and false notions of austerity to weather ‘crises’.

As those of us who are already active meander through our struggles, we must bring more bodies, more voices and more peaceful direct-action every day, each month until change comes.  We must be loud, creative and persistent to show those in power that we will not lay down as our freedom slip through our fingers.  We must challenge the very institutions that perpetuate the hypocrisy that is taking place in our government and we must stand up for all those whose voices cannot be heard.  Giving up is not an option, it’s what gives the 1% the most power.

– Jared D. Khan (Twitter – @OccupyNerds)

Editorial: Kris – What does it mean when Toronto Police arrest 3 people for erecting a tent in a public space.

Toronto Police look ashamed as they carry out their orders. Occupiers in Toronto yell “The whole world is watching” as Police enforce Toronto By-law #608, which includes the rule that none shall camp in city parks. The Charter of Rights does not apply under a government that firstly does not agree with it and secondly under a policing model that does not include correct and reasonable oversight. The Toronto SIU has frighteningly low numbers and as long as the police here have little oversight, the corporate lobbyists will continue to decide policy instead of the public. Hopefully one day this first piece of the puzzle will fit, and all social justice hinges thereupon. The most memorable quote from this piece is “You don’t have to follow a corrupt order.” The bottom line is this: we live in a country where a group of individuals cannot enter a public park away from residential areas for the purpose of building community and screening movies, without being subject to hundreds of police, and some are rather rude.

The tent itself was symbolic. Our city is owned by corporations. The city itself is a corporation. Our notions of “Public Property” are not naturally intuitive. The police are constantly trying to increase their budget by deploying far more force than they need. The Prime Minister views Canada as a “benign dictatorship”, as he prorogues parlaiment, lies about the cost of our military expendatures, and budgets at all levels of government are seeing cuts to the social programs our most vulnerable and voice-less people need the most. What does this spell for our children? Well, I hope they like plastic everything, because the direction we’re taking as a society might be irreparable.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO_zLT8kXEE]

Happy Birthday, Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Police Brutality in Toronto – March 30th 2012

We know it has been a couple weeks by now, but there are a lot of social justice movements currently mobilizing in Toronto and we got busy. That being said we felt it imperative to create a historical and accurate record of the atrocious event that occurred on March 30th, 2012. We have compiled a few interviews on the subject, and gathered some of the video evidence that will be used in court against officers Roehl Ong and Henderson who are currently suspended with pay pending an SIU investigation. The SIU, or Special Investigations Unit, is currently processing the case, and is requesting any information or witness statements here. The SIU’s website notably also has no investigation relating to the man who was knocked unconscious for over 10 hours according to eye-witness accounts.

Here are some stats on the Toronto Police and by association, the SIU’s performance, if you take the time to understand these numbers, you might start to see a pattern of some bad cops slipping through their net. Only 381 Toronto Police Services cases have been investigated since the inception of the Ontario SIU in 2005. TPS, the Toronto Police Service, has interestingly enough stopped posting their annual statistics as you can see here. There is a trend towards non-information in our government. The census now gathers less information than it did 10 years ago, having switched from a ‘longform‘ census to a much less specific one. The trend spells disaster for anyone who is in a marginalized part of society, and shows a lacking in judgement firstly, but more importantly: it shows the government is not concerned with making Canada a safe and prosperous place for all.

The people who experienced firsthand the effects of having non-conformers in a society that devalues anyone who goes against the grain in a tangible manner did so through their meeting with constables Roehl Ong and Henderson. These two rogue officers took it upon themselves to serve an unsigned eviction notice printed from a regular printer to the Occupy Toronto encampment, you can hear one intimidating one civilian journalist, before punching another in the face repeatedly, and by witness accounts the officer in question battered this middle-ages trans-gendered woman while using his handcuffs as improvised brass knuckles. The most sensitive video evidence is currently under review by the SIU, however Mediawrench.org has compiled interviews and footage from the day of the attacks. We have chosen to release this information on the 30th birthday of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

MediaWrench.org Presents Occupy Talks: Oil

MediaWrench.org is pleased to present the next evening in the Occupy Talks series which took place at the Bloor Street United Church at 300 Bloor St. W in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on the evening of the 20th of March, 2012. The church provided a setting that was both strangely focusing, while also excellently ironic, and the first order of business that evening was to do a very small “smudge” ceremony (to clear the air of bad spirits). Once this was finished, the smell of burnt sage and other traditional native medicines set the stage for an evening of insight.

“Tar sands extraction is one of the largest civil and environmental rights issues of this generation. The Harper regime, in alliance with the Alberta government and the largest oil companies in the world, have ignored First Nations rights, broken global agreements and decimated hundreds of kilometers of land in Northern Alberta. Pipelines are expanding the impact to Southern Ontario, where tar sands refining is already happening in Sarnia, aka Chemical Valley. As well, Canada has supported companies and governments employing brutal military regimes to facilitate mining and oil & gas projects abroad. We ask the question, how is this ‘ethical’?” 

– Occupy Talks

The following embedded videos feature esteemed community organizers and intellectuals Eriel Deranger, Ron Plain, Isaac Asume Osuoka and Syed Hussan. The panel was moderated by Anna Zalik, and the talks open with a song requested by the organizers: Mr. Businessman, by Mama D.

Anna Zalik – Anna teaches in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University and has researched oil industry strategy since 2000, with a focus on Nigeria, Mexico and Canada. She has been involved in activism on social justice issues since the 1980s and has published critiques of extractive industry activity in a range of sites.

Diem Lafortune (Mama D) – Lafortune does not take life lying down. She’s a fighter, a champion, an activist and a believer in guardian angels. She’s also a singer/songwriter whose varied life experience – from cab driver, to actor, photographer, near politician and constitutional appellate lawyer – has provided a rich source for her powerful music. Her website can be found here.

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger – Eriel is a Dene Indigenous activist and member of the Athbasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) of Northern Alberta, ground zero for tar sands extraction. Eriel is currently working for ACFN as a campaign and communication coordinator to challenge current and proposed projects by Shell Canada in Alberta’s Tar Sands. Shell is one of the largest operators in the tar sands and has contributed greatly to the erosion of Dene lands, culture and health. Eriel is a longtime Indigenous rights activist, fighting for environmental justice and has worked with many organizations including the International Indian Treaty Council, TakingItGlobal, Canadian Heritage, the United Nations, Indigenous Environmental Network, the Ruckus Society and IP3. She has extensive experience and a deep knowledge of International Indigenous rights, obtained through the International Training Centre for Indigenous People in Illuslisat, Greenland as well as through her work as a researcher for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. Eriel is currently working with many allies to create awareness about the catastrophic climate and human rights impacts of the tar sands and demands full recognition of Indigenous rights from all levels of government and industry operating in Indigenous territories.

Ron Plain – “I am not an environmentalist, I am Aanishinaabe. My reverence for Mother Earth is not a conscious decision, rather it is a genetic predetermination.” Currently, Ron is campaigning to raise awareness about tar sands refining in his community, Aamjiwnaang, located near Sarnia, Ontario, which has been termed the most polluted place on earth by the National Geographic Society. Ron has been an activist for many years, his campaigns began with human rights and discrimination protests in the late 70’s and early 80’s, spanning Turtle Island from Burnt Church to Portland, Oregon. Ron has established himself as a leader in social justice movements with a focus on Aboriginal inherent and treaty rights as they pertain to the holistic views of our environment. Ron has been featured in 11 documentaries, numerous print media, Men’s Health, National Geographic and Chatelaine and network television, CNN, MSNBC and APTN to name a few for his work and his community, Aamjiwnaang.

Isaac Asume Osuoka – Asume is currently enrolled at York University in the doctoral Faculty of Environmental Studies Program. Asume has worked for over a decade to support communities in the Nigeria and other countries in the Gulf of Guinea region organizing programs that encourage change in policy and practice of oil corporations, governments and international finance institutions. He had served as Coordinator of Oilwatch Africa (1997-2006), Directror of Social Action, and also coordinator of the Gulf of Guinea Citizens Network (GGCN). Asume has participated in several international conferences on environment, energy and mining and has been a panellist at the United Nations. He has also represented communities in committees set up by the Nigerian Presidency to address the crisis in the Niger delta.

Syed Hussan – Syed is a writer and activist based in Toronto. Hussan is part of migrant justice, environmental justice, anti-imperialist and Indigenous sovereignty movements. His writings regularly appear in alternative media outlets. Hussan has worked to highlight the links between tar sands extraction and the US military-industrial complex.

‘Like’ Occupy Talks on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-Talks/276821545707071?ref=ts

Editorial – Unions (and Social Justice Networks) vs Occupy

Since I began to occupy, and certainly in the days afterwards, one of the things I contemplate is whether or not unions are a good thing. Of course, they have been a driving force in women’s equality and workers rights, but on the other hand when the garbage workers’ union strikes, no one wants to smell that! As a young man coming into the world, I have been trying to educate myself in the processes that cause society to be as it is now. While occupying St James park for forty days and forty nights, some things came to mind such as “Why is it that more people are not here? Surely more people care about their city, their community, their fellow humans on this planet enough to want to be a part of something that seems (to me) the start of an intellectual golden age.”

And then it hit me, sometime after the City Hall budget meeting where some protesters were arrested, pepper sprayed, and beaten; After the main group of protesters who represented various activism groups had mainly left the stage of Nathan Phillips Square. The realization, in short, was that many groups have been established to research and deal with social issues, and one of those groups is the United Steelworkers Union. Another example of those present was Stop The Cuts, and I’m sure others were present. That realization blended perfectly with my notion that Occupy was so scattered in ideology that many would not be able to understand the messages without a focus.

To progress to the next level of efficacy, Occupy will need to learn from these existing groups to find the resources, monetary and personnel. We have much to learn in general from these groups who have spent their lifetimes fighting for social justice and equality. I think, then, that it is a great thing that Occupy has become the ‘People’s Mic’ for these kinds of organizations. Unions and other groups are strongly focused on some of the kinds of things that Occupy has mentioned, but there is always that fear I have heard expressed many many times over: ‘They’re co-opting us, using us as pawns’. And this fear is, in my mind, only partially justified.

There is a certain, ‘by any means necessary’ mentality that I can understand to be justified in situations where social control and inequality are concerned. I get that. But at the same time there have been some actions that were carried out in the name of Occupy, without the approval of Occupy, nor with great research behind it either. I am referring to the day at St. James park when just before an action, boxloads of ‘Robin Hood Tax’ T-shirts were handed out. I am personally against simply taxing the banks a bit more, as a prior bank teller, I remember that when times get tough, the bank charges more fees, and never charges fees to the ‘best’ clients, and so indirectly the Robin Hood Tax only taxes people with less than enough money to be in the ‘best’ pile, where all the fees come from investments and not transactions. Actions like this need to be presented as coming from the actual source.

It is one thing to support Occupy, and bolster their numbers at key times, it is quite another to literally put your message on Occupiers’ torsos. For me, that is the deciding line. When you have a message, carry it yourself, and let Occupy assist in popularizing it, but do not write it on T-shirts to be handed out by the Occupy Logistics Committee. At the time they were handed out, anyone living in the park would have taken one just because they needed clothing. Its a little like a starving child being given a can of cola then having photographers capture the moment for use as an advertisement.

Moving past that day, USW has been carrying their flags and messages themselves, and Occupy has been there to help. This is in no way offensive to me. A lot of people do not know about USW being one of the founders of the NDP, and USW is also one of the first international unions that arose as a response to international corporations and corporatism. I am glad that the USW has found a respectable way to integrate with the movement, and I anticipate other groups finding a voice through the ‘People’s Mic’. The bottom line, is that Occupy can be the glue that can forge a political force to be reckoned with out of manifold causes and unions that are losing strength due to mainstream pressure on two fronts: one is the fact that ‘activism’ is becoming a dirty word, and the second is the systematic union busting tactics supported by the Harper Government.

Unions in themselves can be great for facilitating communication between employers and workers. On the other hand, not all workers can get into the unions. I worked for the company that was eventually bought by Metro, shipping produce to stores all across Toronto. I kept my productivity at the top of the chart every week, never missed work, and had no problems with anyone. I did this for a couple years. I was a temp. I could have continued to work there for years and would have never been offered a position in the union. I paid union dues but received no benefits. I hope this paints a picture of the possibilities. The issue is not that unions are bad, but rather for unions to be justified; they need to include every worker in their organization, and not just the ‘lifers’. As long as unions create a 2-tier system of pay and benefits, the general population is going to continue to slip away from believing their existence is justified. Some claim that unions pay makes other problems for the companies, creating a landscape where many companies cannot compete in Canada. The issue here is likely tied to outrageous CEO payscales: It is my opinion that no one should ever be paid more than 60k per year, but this is not the issue: the issue is inclusivity.

As long as unions continue to work only for themselves and not for their fellow workers who are not in the union, unions are unjustified in the amounts they receive. Their surplus is shown by the philanthropic work they do despite the minimum wage being so low and the average union workers’ wage being so far beyond that of a worker doing the same job with the same qualifications that cannot get into the union. If there is extra money it should not be taken from the employer in the first place.

I see great potential in unions. In Germany as well as in Japan, since Jimmy Carter’s administration went overseas to re-establish these countries post-WWII, there are unions that actually own the company, that actually elect their own boards of directors. These employees actually earn stock in the company along with wages. Co-determination is the future of the global labour movement I feel. Companies following this model see better productivity than most others following the conventional Top-down/Boss-Employee model. The side-benefit is that everyone begins to vote in the political elections because they become accustomed to the process. The key is that if unions remember to fight for the rights of those not in their unions, then unions will suddenly see public support skyrocket.

Occupy’s most recent action, the BMO flash mob dance, was a success. I hope to see more great direct in-your-face actions like this, especially when you consider both groups are represented, and both have added their own flair to it. MediaWrench was there, and the video below is chronologically correct, leaving very little out. I hope you enjoy it. And more importantly, I hope Occupy continues to integrate with other social justice groups from all around the world, to amplify the message that “S*** is F***** up” – as the sign in the OWS Lego set proclaims.

by Kris Harrison & Jared Khan

Fair Play and the CRTC

If you live in Canada you’ve likely heard of the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).  The CRTC controls the litigation of what gets put on television, radio, internet, as well as litigating the sale and distribution of telecommunications services in Canada.  Now let’s break things down a bit.

There are currently 10 members that comprise the CRTC.  They include a chairman, vice-chairman and 8 commissioners.  The Chairman of the CRTC is Korad Von Finckenstein.  Mr. Finckenstein has worked for the likes of The Department of Justice,  he was the chief legal advisor to Simon Reisman during the negotiations that led to the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement .  He was also head of the competition bureau and in 2007 appointed chair of the CRTC.

Most members in the CRTC have had some affiliation with telecommunications and Radio-Television throughout their careers.  A lot of these members have worked for and still with  telecommunications companies such as Bell, Rogers and Telus.  Bell, Rogers and Telus are often referred to as “The Big Three”, they are the three largest telecom distributors in Canada.  The current way the CRTC is managed is a conflict of interest and has constituted consumers in Canada being gouged for years with monthly subscriptions to entertainment, and communications in this country.  The average annual cost of cellphone service in Canada is the highest in the world.

In 2008 the CRTC opened new entrants to the spectrum auction allowing competition in the market place.  A spectrum is required for any cell phone service provider to be able to support service.  In order to be able to bid on a spectrum a service provider must be invited to bid on the auction by the CRTC.  This requirement has allowed “The Big Three” to bank spectrums over the years, without them being used.  This in turn drives down competition and drives up revenue at the expense of the consumer.   Bell and Rogers over the past 3 years have also purchased various Radio and Television companies around Canada.  Buying most mass media outlets in this country, they have now moved on to buying retail companies, as well as entertainment centres and teams including their recent majority acquisition of Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment.

Putting all of this into relativity essentially means that “The Big Three” own all channels of their respective markets and are also the litigating body behind their companies and everything they can or can’t do.  This in turn creates a monopolization in the market place, which is a violation of fair-play in our democracy.   It would be like a single person owning a chain of grocery stores.  They would also own the distribution company for the stores as well as producing all the products for the grocery store.  This grocery store owner would be in charge of the regulations of all three companies and those respective industries as well.  The monopolization of such large industries, conglomerating them together and being in charge of all the provisional standards has lead to corruption and making consumers pay more than they should.

In an open democracy privatization is required.  Major corporations should not be allowed to control every avenue of what they own and they shouldn’t be allowed to own everything either.  In 2012 the 700 MHz and 2500 MHz spectrums will be placed for auction by the CRTC.  I truly hope that the CRTC makes a step forward by opening this auction to private companies other than “The Big Three”,  making the playing field a little more fair and  potentially allowing even more competition in wireless telecommunications.

– Yoshi

Media Wrench presents: Occupy Talks: What Gravy Train? Austerity, Finance, and the Polarization of Wealth

MediaWrench went down to Occupy Talks to present it for you, and we had a really great time doing it!

Peaking at about 75-100 people of all ages, the turnout blew my mind.  The organization and focus of the event only shows the positive directionality of the Occupy Movement in North America, especially here at home, in Toronto, Canada. The crowd’s thorough mix shows that this was an issue that was completely relevant and perfectly timed considering the austerity measures we are facing across the board. I’ve always said that the most important next step for this intellectual, and what some would call spiritual, revolution will be to bring in the people who have dedicated their lives to knowing the finer points of the problems that we all know are in our hearts and ever-growing. The maturation of the Occupy Movement is moving at a pace most cannot deny is truly impressive.

Our guest speakers focused appropriately enough on the systematic denial of workers’ benefits through union busting, the systematic status quo of the business narrative, and the need to focus on long term goals, whilst celebrating the singular victories within sight. This talk takes place, literally, the day after Mayor Rob Ford’s budget was rejected piece-by-piece due to trying to fix the problems of our community by taking more money from the poorest of society and children. Very little of what Mayor Ford had originally intended to cut from the budget actually survived the process of the budget meeting. And the visibly ‘subversive’ council member who had talked sense into his fellow city hall colleagues, Councillor Josh Colle, saw the necessity and urgency to step back and rethink the logic of Toronto’s bizarre proposed taxes – such as the $2 per head child-tax for children using small wading pools across Toronto. This is a major victory for all reasonably hopeful citizens! The political system affects you.  We can all, more or less, admit for the first time in a long while that we have undeniably affected the system in a tangible manner. The lesson is this: the politicians who are in power now may not agree with the logic of fostering and nurturing our population. Rather than simply catering to the business narrative and the credit scores decided outside our country; sooner or later, the opponents of these politicians are going to acknowledge and bolster the public outcry.  They will naturally and organically replace those leaders who are out of touch with the populace they are hired to serve, once and for all.

OccupyTalks01182012

 Speakers List:

Linda McQuaig is an acclaimed Canadian journalist and best-selling author. She currently writes an op-ed column for the Toronto Star and has written eight books on politics and economics, including It’s the Crude, Dude and most recently, The Trouble With Billionaires.

Jim Stanford is one of Canada’s best-known economists. He is the founder of the Progressive Economics Forum and writes a regular column for the Globe and Mail. He has written seven books, including his latest, Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism.

Nathan Okonta is a community activist and researcher, studying the links between schools and prisons. He is a former member of the Metro Network for Social Justice and is currently a member of the Network for Pan-African Solidarity Toronto, and the Tabono Institute.

Sam Gindin is a respected academic and intellectual. Until recently, he was a professor of Political Economy at York University. He regularly publishes in academic journals and has written numerous books. His latest is In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives.

Lana Brite and Occupy Talks have set up the next generation of forum.  These conversations draw such a crowd simply by utilizing a professional and deeply intellectual approach to activism. The conversation we could not show you, between guests and speakers through the Q&A, was handled with grace. It was a true credit to the Occupy Movement itself here in Canada and also aligned perfectly with the respect for a studied mind that I believe was at the core of Occupy Toronto in its infant stages back in St. James Park. The key to success lies not in brute force, but rather, in expertly applied pressure.

Written by Kris Harrison

Contributions for this piece: Kris Harrison, Jared Khan & Roberto Horta