Occupy Wall Street coming to Vancouver

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      The 60,000-strong Vancouver and District Labour Council is taking notice of independent organizing efforts for a local version of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement in New York City.

      When the Straight reached Joey Hartman on October 4, the first female president of the VDLC, she had just wrapped up a phone call with two fellow executives of Canada’s second-largest labour council about the October 15 Occupy Vancouver event.

      Hartman noted that while it’s still too early to say how the VDLC will be involved, she plans to attend a meeting called by organizers for Saturday (October 8) at the W2 Media Café (111 West Hastings Street).

      “We don’t have a Wall Street but we do have a Howe Street,” Hartman said by phone. “I think that people in Vancouver and other parts of Canada are equally frustrated with the direction that the world has been taking, and that it’s important for us to speak out against it.”

      The Occupy Wall Street phenomenon, which has sparked global interest, has largely caught by surprise established political parties and groups, including organized labour.

      According to Mark Leier, an expert on popular movements, the crucial question now is whether or not the “rebel energy” unleashed by the Occupy protests can combine with the “institutional power” of political parties and labour unions to reach out to more people.

      “That will require a major rethinking on the part of some of the labour and political leaders who often don’t like this kind of unrest because they can’t control and shape it in their own directions,” Leier, chair of SFU’s history department, told the Straight in a phone interview. “But if they are sincere about the kinds of political change that we think is necessary, then they will find ways to work with that.”

      Although there’s a lot of web chatter about a revolution sweeping across the globe, Min Reyes, one of the core organizers of Occupy Vancouver, speaks in modest terms.

      “We’re expecting a somewhat large gathering of people at the Vancouver Art Gallery to just come out and actually join in our…public debate on issues that matter to all of us,” Reyes told the Straight in a phone interview.

      A visual artist, Reyes noted that the October 15 event will largely be shaped by people who are going to attend the meeting on Saturday.

      “Overall if you are looking at it globally, along with all these other movements, what we’re trying to achieve is one goal and that is humanity before profit,” Reyes said.

      Kimball Cariou of the Communist Party of Canada said that he doesn’t get the sense that the situation in this country is as desperate as in the U.S., although he noted that could change.

      “If the economic situation was to seriously deteriorate the way it looked like a few years ago—2008, 2009—then I would think all bets would be off,” Cariou told the Straight by phone. “At the moment, I think people in Canada have more of an expectation of their electoral options than they do in the United States.”




      Oct 5, 2011 at 3:57pm

      30 years ago, one parent worked less hours than they do now. Families had more savings, and WAY less debt. These days, families make the same (or less) as they did back then, BUT we work longer hours, AND have both parents working. Its like our hours have been more than doubled, with zero wage increase in the last 30 years. Fair? I think not. I dont think there is anything wrong with being rich, as long as they pay their fair share. Corporations tho are the problem. And even more so, "The Fed" has enslaved us in debt, and is pushing everyone who is not part of the elite into poverty. When the middle class is struggling, the economy is doomed. "Capitalism" is not working. Why should the 99% be slaves to the 1%. Step 1: End The Fed. Step 2: regulate corporations to prevent the abuses they have become accustomed to. Step 3: Increase minimum wage to a "livable wage" everywhere.

      Gentleman Jack

      Oct 5, 2011 at 4:02pm

      Read them the riot act.
      They are an unlawful assembly designed to terrorize and to intimidate an identified group--they call them the "1%", that is, those who are superior to them. The beautiful; the rich; the powerful.

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      Ray I

      Oct 5, 2011 at 4:06pm

      They don't get it. This is not about Big Labour if it is to have any real legitimacy. It has to be by and about individuals and democratic institutions. Unions are FAR from democratic or about people!

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      Oct 5, 2011 at 4:11pm

      Time for a run on the banks.

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      Gentleman Jack

      Oct 5, 2011 at 4:22pm

      "Why should the 99% be slaves to the 1%"

      Why should the 1% be slaves to the 99%?
      That's what the occupations want---to enslave the 1% for the purpose of taking their possessions, as slaves own nothing in their own right; master can take their things at will.

      Remember the sacred word: EGO.


      Oct 5, 2011 at 4:36pm

      Keep organized labour and the NDP the heck out of this. This is grassroots protest not a photo-op for the status quo.

      Point of Order

      Oct 5, 2011 at 4:39pm

      @Gentleman Jack. You sir are no gentleman, a gentleman sees disgraceful conduct where it is, and stands against injustice. You sir are just another snivling coward, who is blinded by his on sense of self worth and cares nothing for his fellow man. The 1% can bloodywell live like the other 99%. Is that to much to ask?

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      Oct 5, 2011 at 4:43pm

      Shouldn't that read 'Gentleman Jerk'?

      eat the rich

      Oct 5, 2011 at 4:50pm

      'nuff said


      Oct 5, 2011 at 4:54pm

      Gentleman Jack needs to read the definition of the word "democracy" because as long as we live by it the 1% and corporations answer to us. We are just taking some time out to remind them of this since they seem to think that money buys them more of a say. We say no, it does not.