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'Occupy' movement mushrooms in Canada

By JOSEPH CHRYSDALE   |   Oct. 16, 2011 at 3:10 AM   |   Comments

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TORONTO, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A tent city was pitched by protesters in Toronto Saturday as Canadians by the thousands joined the "Occupy" demonstrations against income and wealth disparity.

Police estimated at least 3,000 people gathered Saturday in the financial district of Canada's equivalent of New York's Wall Street, where the Occupy Wall Street protests began Sept. 17.

Many chanted the New York slogan: "We are the 99 percent," referring to the gap between rich and poor, although various placards showed support for other social issues.

Similar rallies were held in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and the Alberta cities of Edmonton and Calgary.

The underlying theme was based on the New York protesters' allegations that the richest 1 percent of the population holds 35.6 percent of the country's wealth.

"We're screwed," said a Toronto middle-aged protester named Mike who didn't want his last named used.

"Nobody knows when their job's gonna be cut and here are these corporate bastards taking in millions a year," he told UPI. "I'm working my butt off just to make the bills -- how am I supposed to get ahead?"

The Toronto rally was peaceful, although police reported two arrests of people found carrying hammers.

Such was not the case in Rome, where demonstrators torched a car and riot police were deployed Saturday.

Radio France Internationale said more than 950 cities in 82 countries saw economic protests during the weekend.

In Toronto, police maintained a low profile. Spokeswoman Constable Wendy Drummond told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, the force had prepared a "variety of contingency plans," but wouldn't elaborate further.

Toronto police are still under legal scrutiny over their response to rioting in June during the Group of 20 summit in which a police car was torched. Similar concerns were in place in Vancouver, where riots broke out in June when the Vancouver Canucks failed to win the Stanley Cup championship.

In Alberta, Edmonton protester Val MacDonald told Postmedia News the United States' policy of "unfettered capitalism" was the source of global woes that affected her family.

"I don't think it's wrong for an everyday person to expect a modest home," she said.

At a demonstration in Kelowna, British Columbia, Daniel Jessone told Global TV her anti-U.S. sentiments were sidelined.

"I don't care if it's a copycat or not," she said. "It's the same cause and the same reason so we should be occupying."

In Calgary, Alberta, hundreds of people rallied in the main shopping area with placards reading "Corporate politics eats people" and "People before profits," the QMI agency reported.

By Sunday, there were no statements issued by municipal, provincial or federal governments about the protests.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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