Occupy Vancouver highlights inequality, council candidate Tim Louis says
Tim Louis knows where he’s headed on Saturday (October 15).
Like many, the Vancouver lawyer and politician is heeding the call for people across the world to rise up on that day in protest against capitalist excesses.
A former city councillor who is attempting to stage a comeback in the November 19 municipal election, Louis hopes other civic politicians will show up as well at the grounds of the Vancouver Art Gallery. That’s ground zero for the local version of the Occupy Wall Street protests that started in New York’s financial district on September 17.
“If we’re truly committed to social change, then we should be there,” Louis told the Straight in a phone interview.
Louis noted he’s a strong supporter of the movement. “It is a breath of fresh air,” he said. “It is succeeding where a number of other movements have not been successful in bringing to light the enormous and growing wealth inequality in society.”
One website indicated as of October 12 that some 662 cities in 79 countries will see people pouring out into streets, squares, and plazas this Saturday to demand change.
A “working statement” released by organizers of the Occupy Vancouver event addresses a wide range of issues. “We challenge corporate greed, corruption, and the collusion between corporate power and government,” the statement reads. “We oppose systemic inequality, militarization, environmental destruction, and the erosion of civil liberties and human rights.”
In September, Anne Golden, president and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada, said in a news release that the growing inequality in Canada “raises a moral question about fairness”. That was when the think tank released a report stating that income inequality has been rising faster in this country compared to the U.S. since the mid 1990s.
In its December 2010 study The Rise of Canada’s Richest 1%, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives showed that Canada’s wealthiest one percent, who number 246,000 and whose average annual income is $405,000, took 32 percent of the growth in incomes between 1997 to 2007.
University of Victoria sociologist William Carroll has studied social movements and capitalism. In a phone interview, Carroll told the Straight: “You can’t really have a democracy in a society that is divided into classes in which you have these extreme inequalities. The kind of democracy that neoliberal capitalism produces is, as I say, a very weak form, and I think people are responding to that.”
Mayor Gregor Robertson, chair of the Vancouver police board, didn’t grant an interview before deadline. The Straight wanted to ask him if he had any instructions on how police should handle Occupy Vancouver protesters who will be camping out at the art gallery.