Occupy Canada

Occupy Canada
Occupy Canada
Part of the Occupy movement
Protesters in Victoria Square in Montreal
Occupy Montreal on October 15, 2011
Date October 15, 2011 (2011-10-15)ongoing
(39 days)
Location Canada
Status Ongoing as part of the global Occupy movement.
Causes Wealth inequality, Plutocracy, Corporate influence of government, Corporatocracy, inter alia.
Arrests: 17[1]
Injuries: 1[4]
Deaths: 1

Occupy Canada are a collective of peaceful protests and demonstrations that are part of the larger Occupy Together movement which first manifested in the financial district of New York City with Occupy Wall Street, and subsequently spread to over 900 cities around the world.[5][6]


The larger movement

Occupy Toronto sign in St James Park

The collective protests are primarily against social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the corrupting influence of corporate money and lobbyists on government and democracy.[5][6]

Characterized by leaderless, horizontally-organized, participatory democratic action, and nonviolent civil disobedience, the grassroots democratic movement hopes to effect societal change to put the public good over corporate profits.[6]

According to Armine Yalnizyan, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

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 [in 2008 amid the recession]. ... 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. ... Occupy Wall Street is partly about Wall Street, and Bay Street, and taxes – But it's mostly about getting governments to serve the interests of the other 99%.

Armine Yalnizyan, senior economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives[5]

The Occupy movement grew from an idea publicized on an email list[7] and online blog [8] July 13, 2011, by Vancouver-based non-profit Canadian group Adbusters, which had been inspired by the Arab Spring protests, such as the one in Egypt's Tahrir Square, that toppled many long-established governments in the Middle East.[5] They promoted the protest with full page ad in Adbusters #97: Post Anarchism, featuring an iconic poster of a graceful ballerina balanced atop the charging Wall Street bull, with the hashtag #OCCUPYWALLSTREET; their call to action was the spark that started the larger Occupy movement. Two young New York bloggers provided the movement's defining slogan, "We are the 99%".[9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America

Adbusters, on launching the occupation of New York City's financial district on September 17, 2011[5]

The movement calls on U.S. President Barack Obama to set up a presidential commission "tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington."[5]

Canadian participation in the Global Day of Action

Occupy Toronto on October 15, 2011

For the Occupy movement's first Global Day of Action on October 15, 2011, rallies took place in 951 cities in 82 different countries around the world.[1][5][6][16]

Occupy Canada rallies for the Global Day of Action took place in at least 20 Canadian cities, including:[1][3][5][6]

Occupy Toronto

In Toronto, around 3,000 people convened at the Financial District, which is based in the intersection of Bay Street and King Street.[1] The peaceful protest continued on to St. James Park with approximately 1,500 people. Around 100 people set up camping tents there and websites associated with the protest indicated that they expected to remain there for a week.[1]

Occupy Montreal

On October 15, 2011, the global Occupy movement arrived in Montreal on its first Global Day of Action. Over 1,000 Montrealers participated at Victoria Square, a public square directly between the Montreal World Trade Centre and the Montreal Exchange, where financial derivatives are traded.[2]

Occupy Montreal during the Global Day of Action

The event began at 9:30, with hundreds of people arriving in the morning. By 11 a.m., the area was packed with people dancing, and tents occupied a significant portion of the green space. By late afternoon, the crowd had increased to over 1,000 people, who marched up Beaver Hall Hill and down Saint Catherine Street. 85 tents were set up at Victoria Square[2][3]

Over the next five days, the occupation continued to expand and grow more complex each day. By October 20, 2011, the number of tents in Victoria Square had nearly doubled to 168, with no room to squeeze anymore in, and participants had two generators, six rented chemical toilets, canned and dried food, recycling and compost bins, and a savings fund to take the occupation through the cold winter.[17]

Occupy Vancouver

Occupy Vancouver on October 15, 2011

In Vancouver, where the idea for the Occupy movement was first promoted, around 4,000 people participated in producing the highest turnout in Canada. The well-organized event in a square at the city's art gallery included a food tent set up for those planning to stay for the long haul.[1][3] Tents were set up with the City of Vancouver insisting only that they not be staked into the ground, and daily general assemblies were scheduled, with the permission and support of the Vancouver Art Gallery.[citation needed]

Although public officials had not intervened to shut down the Occupy Vancouver protests, two incidents put these protests at risk of being forced to shut down. On November 3, 2011, a man at the protest nearly died of a drug overdose.[18] During the response to this overdose, the Vancouver Fire Department issued orders for fire code violations such as propane cylinders inside of tents and insufficient spacing between the tents.

On November 5, 2011, a woman in her 20s was found dead in one of the tents due to a drug overdose.[19] These events have resulted in the mayor suggesting that the city may be forced to take down the tents, if a peaceful solution cannot be reached. The mayor has repeatedly said that the people, however, may remain.[citation needed]

On November 7, 2011, city notices asking protesters to pack up their tents “immediately” were posted at the site. Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services crew were blocked from putting out a fire that some described as a sacred First Nations fire. Protesters formed a protective circle around the fire and police officers moved in to pull them apart which resulted in clashes between protestors and police.[20][21]

On November 15, 2011, Police, firefighters and city workers moved in and started removing several tents and tarps which were fire hazards. The City of Vancouver applied for an injunction order to remove the entire camp, but the judge adjourned the hearing to allow protesters to prepare their legal response. [22]

On November 18, 2011, Justice Anne MacKenzie granted the city's request to clear out the Occupy tent city by Monday afternoon, including an order for enforcement by police. Protesters will have until 2 p.m. on November 21, 2011, to remove their tents and other structures.[23]

On November 21, 2011, protestors cleared out the Art Gallery zone and occupied a new slice of land at Robson Square, just outside provincial court facilities.[24] Justice Anne MacKenzie ordered an end to Occupy Vancouver's new tent city by 5 p.m. November 22, 2011. [25]

Occupy Ottawa

Occupy Ottawa protest at Cartier Square

The movement's presence in Ottawa began on Saturday October 15, 2011 with around 500 people participating at Confederation Park. A march on Sussex Drive was held the second day, passing by the U.S. embassy. Around 75 people camped in tents, with the group planning to occupy the downtown park indefinitely. Many participants, prepared for the long haul, described Occupy Ottawa as a movement of presence, rather than just a protest.[3][26]

On November 23, 2011, police evicted protesters from the park, ending the chapter of the protests in the city.[27]

Occupy Edmonton

On October 15, 2011, over 1,000 people participated in an Occupy march in Edmonton, with over two dozen people spending the first night in a park in the downtown core. A tent city, complete with food, art, and medic tents, was set up with consent of the owner of the property.[3][28]

Occupy Kingston

On October 15, 2011, over 150 people occupied Confederation Basin, across from City Hall on Ontario St. A large yurt-like structure, built using the bandstand metal frame and tarps, contains 8-9 tents, and is divided into living and working areas. The City of Kingston has no plans for evicting the protesters.[3][29][30]

Occupy Victoria

On October 15, 2011, over 1,000 people marched through downtown Victoria, and a large 800-person rally took place at Centennial Square on the B.C. Legislature grounds.[16][31]

The Occupy Victoria demonstrations included an event downtown organized by the recently founded People’s Assembly of Victoria and a similar demonstration organized by We Are Change Victoria that involved around 300 people on the B.C. legislature grounds.[16][31]

A tent city of at least 17 tents and 30 occupants was set up at Centennial Square, with plans to remain until the social and economic problems that prompted the Occupy movement are addressed.[16][31]

Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin initial praised the Occupy Victoria movement and its international counterparts as "citizen participation and one of the emerging issues of our times," saying that "people have an urgent need to be involved in the events and process that shape their lives."[31] Fortin later retracted his support for the protestors stating "I think we’re coming to a place where more and more, much like Vancouver, we’re getting concerned about the safety issues".[32]

On November 5, 2011, demonstrators held a flash occupation at the intersection of Fort Street and Douglas Street, the centre of Victoria's financial district, to commemorate Bank Transfer Day. Two RBC and TD Canada Trust branches at this intersection temporarily shut down and locked their doors "due to protesting". Protestors cited legal, ethical and environmental violations committed by RBC and TD Canada Trust as the reasons for their occupation.

On November 6, 2011, Kate Friars, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture, issued a letter to all occupants to vacant Centennial Square by noon on Monday, November 7, 2011.

On November 7, 2011, approximately 80 people chanted, cheered, linked arms and surrounded the main tent just before noon as they faced a deadline by the city to move their temporary structures. A few police officers stood and watched but no tickets were issued. Fortin stated the city would not make a move until his staff obtains a B.C. Supreme Court order. Fortin said he and his staff will wait and see whether the Victoria protestors will remove their tents voluntarily by the end of the week before filing for the court injunction.[33][34]

On November 9, 2011, protesters were given until 4 pm, Thursday, November 10, 2011, to file a response with B.C. Supreme Court to respond to the city's eviction notice. B.C. Premier Christy Clark said "I think almost anyone would say it's time for them to go and they should go peacefully and they should go as soon as possible"[35]

On November 16, 2011, protesters and city crews began packing up tents voluntarily as they expect the city will be granted a court injunction to remove the camp on the morning of November 17.[36]

On November 18, 2011, Justice Terence A. Schultes ruled that the square must be vacated by 7 a.m. on Saturday, November 19, 2011. However, the judge refused to provide an immediate enforcement order, saying the demonstrators had shown "a praiseworthy degree of responsiveness to the concerns of the city".[37]

On November 22, 2011, Victoria Police cleared out the Occupy encampment at Centennial Square of all protesters and tents and arrested one woman who refused to leave. [38]

Occupy Nova Scotia

Occupy Nova Scotia camp at Halifax's Grand Parade

An Occupy Nova Scotia camp began in Halifax on October 15 at the Grand Parade between Halifax City Hall and St. Paul's Church beside the Halifax Cenotaph in Downtown Halifax. A demonstration of about 300 people began the site with about 25 tents including a medical tent, art supplies, a food and entertainment tent hosting discussion groups, art creation as well as a daily General Assembly. The first major activity were performance contributions to Halifax's Nocturne nighttime arts festival.[39] The gathering grew to 30 tents by October 20, despite a heavy rain storm on October 19 that destroyed several tents and caused local flooding.[40] On October 25, Mayor of Halifax Peter Kelly asked the Occupiers to move from the Grand Parade to the Halifax Common so the area can be prepared for the Dignity Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies usually held in the square. Occupy protestors said they would seek a compromise.[41] On October 30, Occupy Nova Scotia participants agreed to clear the Grand Parade on November 6 and move to Victoria Park until November 12, when they would return to the Grand Parade.[42] During the day of November 11, police entered Victoria Park, served an eviction notice according to a local bylaw, removed the tents, and arrested 14 people.[43] On November 12, three more arrests were made when hundreds of protestors filled the Grand Parade, calling for the city's mayor to resign.[44] Several police cruisers had been stationed outside the parks to prevent people from pitching tents.[45]

Occupy Regina

On October 15, 2011 protestors rallied and set up camp in Victoria Park. In the following weeks, approximately 30 tents and 60 occupants have been keeping a nighttime vigil. On October 19, power was shut off and on November 7th the occupiers' portable toilet was removed by the city.[46] Due to these two events, and the verbal warnings being received by the city of Regina to leave, a rally was held at city hall on November 9th. About 60 people gathered at noon hour and a short time later went inside, and requested to meet with the mayor. The request was denied, so they occupied the front lobby of city hall until the building closed, and left peacefully.[47]

On the morning of November 10th, each tent was served a formal eviction notice by the city of Regina. They were ordered to vacate the premises and remove their tents by 8:00am, November 12, 2011.[48] Some protestors remained in the park, and police issued nine summonses on November 14 and 15. On the morning of November 16, police removed all the tents and contents, including an Apple iPod, which police said protestors can claim at a later date.[49][50] The police did not encounter any resistance as the camp was already abandoned.[51] Those served tickets and are expected to appear in court on December 14, and could face a maximum fine of $2000.[52]

On 20 November, 2011 Occupy protestors met in Victoria Park where they marched into the Cornwall Centre mall and did a flash mob action with playing cards. They used the human microphone system to read out a short statement regarding the corrupt economic system "the deck is stacked." [53]

Occupy Windsor

Occupy Windsor had 25 residents as of November 11, 2011. The residents include a panhandler who is serving as a security person, and a former city council member.[54]

Occupy participation in other Canadian cities

Estimates of the number of Occupy movement participants in other Canadian cities on the Global Day of Action included:

  • Calgary: over 400 people at Bankers Hall downtown, and a camp was set up at St. Patrick's Island, west of the zoo.[3]
  • Winnipeg: over 400 people downtown, and dozens of people camped in Memorial Park.[3]
  • Saskatoon: 200 people took part in a rally at Friendship Park, and dozens camped.[3] The protest later relocated to Gabriel Dumont Park until the city evicted the protestors on November 14, 2011.[55]
  • Charlottetown: 125 people outside Province House, the P.E.I. legislature.[3]
  • London: 100 people demonstrated in Victoria Park and some have set up camp in Victoria Park and outside nearby St. Paul's Cathedral Church.[3] London Ontario's mayor Joe Fontana became the first mayor to move on the occupiers in Canada. In early morning November 9, 2011, municipal police entered Victoria Park in large number and dismantled tents. No arrests were made in the initial event. Victoria Park continues to be monitored by the police as occupiers gather at the park while their tents have been confiscated.
  • St. John's: Some 50 people protested in wet weather near the waterfront.[3]
  • Moncton: over 300 people showed up at city hall on the Saturday October 15th global rally. Still there are about 30 occupiers living in tents at the Aberdeen Cultural Centre. Every saturday a general assembly takes place at city hall where different groups join to help advance the cause and to show solidarity to Occupy Wall-Street.

Calls for specific Canadian measures

Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch, a non-profit citizen advocacy organisation based in Ottawa, suggested the Occupy Canada movement should push for 15 key measures endorsed by 140 Canadian citizen groups over the past decade, including:[5]

  • The creation of civilian watchdog agencies to oversee corporate activity in each economic sector
  • Increased financial and legal penalties for corporate illegality
  • Expanded protection for whistleblower employees
  • A requirement that corporations must legally represent not only the interests of shareholders, but also those of their employees, customers, society, and the environment

See also

Occupy articles

Canadian protests

Other Protests

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Related articles


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  52. ^ Maciag, Samantha (November 15, 2011). "Regina Occupiers ticketed". News Talk 650 CKOM (Rawlco Radio). http://www.ckom.com/story/regina-occupiers-ticketed/31822. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  53. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra9w42MAQps&feature=youtu.be
  54. ^ “An inside look at Occupy Windsor”, CBC News, November 11, 2011
  55. ^ Warren, Jeremy (November 14, 2011). "Occupy Saskatoon protesters evicted from Gabriel Dumont Park". The StarPhoenix (Postmedia Network). http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/Occupy+Saskatoon+protesters+evicted+from+Gabriel+Dumont+Park/5708218/story.html. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 

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