Recently, I heard a Grade 6 student explain that he and his friends had walked out of school to protest against a government measure that they believed had resulted in their teachers' rights being taken away. The principal was not impressed. I think we should be very impressed. What are our children in Canada seeing in the streets of our cities and towns? Idle No More, Occupy, protests in Ontario and Quebec by teachers and students -- and remember the G-20 protests in Toronto in 2010? While some of us looked the other way, the children are still watching.
Bill C-309 states that anyone who commits an illegal act while wearing a mask at a protest can face 10 years in prison. While we are grateful for such a bill, it isn't good enough. If someone carries a loaded gun while committing a crime, it can be assumed he is willing to use it; I'd argue that any person wearing a mask or disguise at any controversial protest is up to no good, and can be assumed to be contemplating illegal behaviour.
Though "Occupy the Legislature" may not have had the same ring, our policy decisions offer mechanisms that will either perpetuate or diminish the income divide in the years to come. With any luck, pending budget announcements will occupy our mutual scrutiny with the same fury that the protests have.
If you take the many media portrayals of the Occupy camps at face value, you might believe that they are (were) filthy dens of iniquity: disorganized, dangerous, unruly, smelly. While not an overnighter, I became a regular. Whenever I left Occupy, I was a nicer guy than when I had arrived.
After its initial success, it's time for Occupy to think big. It won't be easy. Everyone thinks their cause is the most important. But the attempt to build this unity would have to be couched in language that encourages open dialogue and willingness to focus on root causes and not just symptoms.
The Occupy Movement seems to rise in popularity and attendance not when they decide to do something but rather when an external force lashes out at them. Once the threat passes, numbers dwindle down again. The support for Occupy is entirely reactionary. Is this any true way to incite global change?
More protesters began arriving just before noon. A police officer put the number at 1,200, but to me it seemed more like 400. The tents had already begun folding like houses of cards, mostly at the hands of city workers.
Turning St. James Park into an Alamo for its cause risked Occupy Toronto's ability to carry on after defeat. The potential power Occupy Toronto has isn't in clinging to an arbitrarily chosen plot of land. It is in the ability to harness the power of those who came out and to build a movement that has an impact on the world.