Saturday, October 22, 2011

Night 7 - Occupy Montreal & a Council of Canadians

Hope in Resistance
Tonight I went down to the registration & public forum for the Council of Canadians conference that is being hosted at Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain hotel downtown. If you support the Occupy Protests (world movement started by #OccupyWallstreet), then you should really be at this conference. It is called "Hope in Resistance" and is addressing a number of concerns that are all connected. This is a different group of individuals that are not part of the group of protesters who are down at Square Victoria but do identify themselves as being part of the "Occupy Movement". This conference attracted people from all walks of life, but I would actually say there was a much higher percentage of people in attendance that I would guesstimate to have been born between the 1940's through to the 1960's. Many are highly educated people, including social workers, teachers, engineers and others.

Tonight's speakers really addressed the connection between the state of the environment & how this is tied into economics, the increasing gap between the rich & the poor, the increase in unemployment in Canada as well as abroad, disappearing resources, Indigenous rights, et cetera. Yes it does sound like they are covering all major issues, but if you don't see the connection then you need to do more research.

There is a live stream for tomorrow's conferences which you can see here:

 Last minute registration is welcome between 8am & 9am. Tomorrow's conferences will cover the following subjects:

From the Streets to the Legislature
A discussion between NDP and Qu├ębec Solidaire politicians on how they will work together and a broader conversation with civil society representatives on how social movements will work with progressive politicians in Quebec and the rest of Canada. Can progressive politicians be accountable to civil society? What can we do to counter the austerity agenda?

Trade, Security, Civil Liberties
Globalization, Security & Human Life: Unacceptable trade-offs inside the North American perimeter. Since the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, we have been asked to think of security as an economic problem for Canada. We are told by business lobby groups and successive federal governments that the threat of terrorism, both real & perceived, interferes with global trade & investment flows, therefore people should sacrifice their civil liberties, privacy and in extreme cases their human rights so business as usual can carry on. In Canada these changes to security, immigration and refugee policy, including increased surveillance, and travel restrictions have happened in the context of trilateral and now bilateral trade discussions with the United States, most recently under the banner of "perimeter security and economic competitiveness." Hear from experts about the effect that the globalization of security (or the securing of trade flows) has had on human lives and real-life economic opportunities for people living in Canada.

Communities Acting to Protect Our Water

In a country where 60 per cent of the GDP is directly dependent on water, community struggles against the corporate takeover of local water supplies have posed a powerful challenge to the dominant model of unlimited and reckless economic growth. Learn about the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug battle against gold mining, the fight to stop hydraulic fracturing in Quebec, and the campaign to make the Great Lakes a commons. Find out, through these inspiring stories, how the pursuit of water justice has challenged colonialism, capitalism, and the environmental injustice.

Austerity in Health Care

The 2014 health care accord will be negotiated during a time of deep cuts to social spending. Instead of finding ways to make health care spending more efficient, the federal government blames the weak economy as a reason not to improve medicare. Canadians must insist that health care cuts are cuts we cannot afford. Unfortunately the people who rely on the health care system the most are often the voices most silenced. How can we use the 2014 health care accord negotiations to ensure that we build Canadian values of equality into our medicare system? What toll will austerity measures have on people's health across Canada? And how will austerity measures affect the social determinants of health?

The Council of Canadians has launched an exciting new multimedia education project - available at - called "system Change not Climate Change". This slogan is central to a growing and vibrant global movement for climate justice. Come and join the discussion and learn more about the project, which features more then 20 videos of people speaking about key climate justice issues and real solutions to the climate crisis. Hear from two speakers featured in the project engaged in climate justice struggles, including one who is fighting shale gas development in Quebec, and another working to stop a proposed massive highway project in British Columbia.

How do we work together on all the issues discussed in the previous panels?
The Indignez-vous and Occupy movements resist corporate control and the austerity agenda in the streets. The September 26th tar sands action of mass civil disobedience on Parliament Hill was only the beginning. With governments at all levels embracing the ill-conceived austerity agenda, how do we work together to press for a society that puts people and nature first? Key progressive leaders from Canada, Quebec, and First Nations, civil society, labour and youth will issue a Call to Action and share ideas on building a new progressive alliance.

Occupy Montreal: Night 7

I really have to be honest and say I am having really mixed feelings about the participants who are camped down at Occupy Montreal. I still don't like alot of the symbology being used, I believe it sends the wrong message, for example the Zeitgeist sign (I don't support Zeitgeist) and I don't think the Guy Fox is appropriate, but that's just my personal feelings. Personally I think it's better to pick symbology that is less controversial between occupy participants. I believe the symbology being used should be recognizable to a larger audience conveying a message that everyone can agree with. I am also worried by the image being sent by the drinking, openly smoking pot and mess that the pro-active volunteers are struggling to keep on top of (since not everyone is being self responsible; I watched several individuals litter, while other good samaritans were cleaning up garbage at the exact same time).

Right now I personally feel the signals being sent by the occupiers of Square Victoria are mixed messages, which I don't think is their intention. I think this has more to do with there being so many diverse individuals down there. I am also concerned with the significant amount of conspiracy, paranoia, anti-authority, anti-government, anti-police types of messages which I feel are being conveyed by a large percentage of the group who are representing Occupy Montreal. But I must emphasis that I do fundamentally support what the world occupy movements are conveying, and I really do want to portray Occupy Montreal in the best possible light, but I also have to be honest here.

If we treat our government, our politicians, the police, & the corporations as our enemy, then we are creating a war that no one can come out ahead of because as long as we are not recognizing that humanity is made up of brothers & sisters, then we will never ever find the solutions. Yes we need to stand up for our rights, we need to speak up and speak out. But if we are pointing fingers at everyone around us we are not going to move forward. What we need is for the government & corporations to be accountable for their crimes against the environment and humanity. Drawing attention to specific harmful actions of the 1% is appropriate. But not all of the 1% are bad, many of them are highly generous people who have given alot to humanity and the environment, this is why there are things like the Nobel Prize award, but for sure the "Mother Theresa's" amongst the 1% is not the norm, otherwise we wouldn't have the world in the state it is.

There are no easy answers, we just need to do our best to be good people in our every day lives and to do what we can as we can to create positive changes where we have the opportunity to do so.

But it must be kept in mind that those who are camping down there are only a small percentage of the people who are in support of Occupy Montreal and would represent the 99%. It is admirable the convictions & persurverience of those camped there to try to make a statement to Montreal's citzens. As everyone keeps saying, since there is no official leaders of any of the Occupy movements, no one person can speak on behalf of the whole, they can only speak for themselves. I am speaking for myself.

There are still Good People & Generosity

Despite what I just said, on the flip side, there are alot of good people down there for the right reasons. There is alot of generosity both between occupants and from the supporters who do not choose to get heavily involved. Despite any bad apples, there are many who are clear headed & well researched individuals with the right intentions. However, it must be said that I am struggling to see how they can be productive & constructive force so far because no one is able to agree on what the agenda/plan of action should be, how to approach it and in what presentation.

I am not able to go down there during the day so far, but I know from talking to reliable sources the day time portion is very positive and in contrast with the evening & night. There are alot of positive people who are not camped there that participated in the marches who go down on a regular basis in the day time. However, I am so far only going down at night so I see another side to things.

Security Teams

Right now those who are occupying Square Victoria are in an argument about what to name the groups of people who are now volunteering their time to patrol the area and watch for signs of potential trouble. Personally, I feel that just call a spade a spade, seriously, they have formed their own policing system, which is a response to recent events.

The movement itself is peaceful, but there has been several cases of violence in the last few days, which has more to do with the street people then anything else. Night time is getting increasingly sketchy there, the later it is, the less safe it is on account of the street life congregating there. I am concerned for the safety of those camping there. I noticed that the "Enfants & Families" tents have left, which is not a good sign. There are also some other concerning incidents which I don't know enough about to really feel it's my right to talk about. I also have concerns of safety about the use of open candles besides a very tightly populated tent city that could easily go up in flames.

What it emphasises to me however is that they need alot more positive, clear headed, rational and knowledgeable people to join the camp out in order to balance the situation out. Either that, or the positive constructive people who are down there should maybe consider banding together to start working on their own plans of action towards creating positive change. Especially the winter being so close.

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