Occupy Canada spreads to 15 cities

Oct. 14, 2011 at 12:11 PM
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TORONTO, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The Occupy Canada movement has spread to 15 cities where activists plan rallies Saturday, organizers said.

The Canadian rallies, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, are scheduled across Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Occupy Canada rallies are scheduled in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and other cities.

Armine Yalnizyan, a senior economist for the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, told CBC News the Occupy movement could bring significant changes if it receives enough support from citizens as well as business and government leaders.

"This is an awakening. The Occupy movement, if it succeeds, is like a kind of second chance to have that conversation we didn't have" [amid the recession in 2008], Yalnizyan said.

"Civil rights [protesters] and feminists changed societal thinking. If this movement turns into a real movement, it will change our thinking about the relationship between the rich and the rest of us."

She said the richest 1 percent of the Canadian population received a third of income gains in the decade before the recession.

Duff Conacher, a founding director of Democracy Watch, an Ottawa-based non-profit citizen advocacy organization, agreed the Occupy Canada movement could bring change.

"Peaceful demonstrations where lots of people come out and express their concerns are always a good thing in a democracy, but they're better if the demonstrators have specific demands that they want action on," Conacher told CBC News.

"It is easy to be an activist. It's not very easy to be an 'effectivist' and actually effect change. You have to do your research, find out problems and the actual solutions and activate that in strategic ways. Specific demands are more likely to corner decision makers and policymakers and force a response: 'Yes or no. Are you going to do this?'"

Among other things, Democracy Watch suggested activists seek creation of civilian watchdog agencies to oversee corporate activity, expanded protection for corporate whistle-blowers, tougher penalties for corporate lawbreaking and a requirement that corporations legally represent not only shareholders' interests but also those of employees, customers and society as a whole.

The Occupy Wall Street protest began Sept. 17 with a small group of activists and has grown to thousands of people throughout the United States, including white-collar workers, labor unions, veterans and spiritual leaders.

The protesters say they're demonstrating against the richest 1 percent of the population, who hold 35.6 percent of the country's wealth. They say Wall Street greed has contributed to the global economic crisis, causing social and economic pain to all but the wealthiest people.

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