Prompted by my curiosity about the global movement known as Occupy Wall Street, on Saturday I headed out to the Occupons Montréal / Occupy Montréal protests, which mirrored similar events springing up in Toronto, Vancouver, Berlin and elsewhere on the same day. I witnessed masses of people at Montréal's Victoria Square, home of a number of financial institutions. Inspired by what I saw, I wasn't sure when I left if the protesters would be pushed out of the space they had created for themselves.
It's now three nights later, and the protesters are still there. What's more, they were paid a visit by a number of public figures, including environmentalist David Suzuki, who gave this rousing, on-the-spot interview with Why? Simply Because and Jobbook:In the interview, Suzuki points out that money and profits are being prioritized over human lives and our children's futures, something that he has previously termed "intergenerational crimes":
It seems like money is everything that determines what our priorities are now. And the economy is just a means to something else, surely. The economy by itself is nothing, we use the economy for something else. Do we want justice? Do we want greater equity? Do we want greater environmental protection?
Suzuki has previously expressed that he's cautious about whether these global protests will lead anywhere. Nevertheless, he finds that all these people -- especially the young -- who want to take action as something "exciting," since Canada's current system does not reflect a democracy:
They've got to get back out there and reclaim democracy. Right now we don't have a democracy. [..] They've got to talk about the obscene difference in the one per cent of the population that are making huge amounts of money, wanting to avoid taxes or any responsibility to create jobs. Let's take back those priorities and say this is not acceptable.
According to reports, well over 1,000 people attended the first day, with almost 200 campers staying in tents pitched near a statue of Queen Victoria. The statue was decorated with the same mask seen elsewhere in other protests worldwide, along with a sign saying "Zeitgeist" and Quebec's Patriots' Flag.
Interestingly, Daniel Tencer at HuffPo Canada writes that
Suzuki is not the first prominent person to use the Occupy protests as a sounding board for ideas that may have seemed too radical, or too inflammatory, just weeks ago, before the protests sprung up and gained considerable support among the public.
But is this really that radical to demand that our economy and society operate within just and sustainable limits?
What's more, it's now clear that these ideas are not out on the fringe, but are in fact quite widespread -- a direct reaction to the inequality, exploitation and environmental degradation that is perpetuated by a corporate agenda placing profit above all else. So it's deliriously inspiring to see ordinary people, regardless of age, race and creed come together to demand for something that will actually work. Regardless of whether these protests go anywhere, I'm proud to see people of this generation finally take the stage.
Livestreaming of Occupy events here.
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