Thursday, 13 October 2011

Occupy Toronto

  I just got home tonight from the organizational meeting of the Occupy Toronto group in time to see myself on national television which is a strange feeling. I thought that I would compare my impressions with an online article from the Toronto Sun, the local tabloid.
A ragtag group of would-be revolutionaries gathered in a downtown parkette Thursday night to organize committees and solicit donations for Saturday’s planned Occupy Toronto demonstration.
Around 250 people — the majority of them in their 20s— assembled in a circle around several organizers of the upcoming protest against capitalism and big business — a Toronto-based rendering of the Occupy Wall Street protests that first took root in New York’s financial district in mid-September.
The group gathered in the Bloor St. W and St. George St. area, just east of the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

  The article did get the size of the group about right, the crowds had around 200 people but the rest of the comments by my estimation were off since the demographics were evenly distributed over ages from 20 to 65, probably most of them had at least an undergraduate degree and they tended to skew towards the higher end of the socioeconomic scale. Ragtag is not a word that I would use because they seemed to have pretty good organizational skills and the participants knew how to pursue goals. After an hour of procedural wrangling, things moved along rapidly with reports from the various subcommittees such as logistics, food, media, legal and medical given and training sessions for various aspects of the occupation announced.

One of three news vans
  There was wall to wall news coverage and five representatives of the constabulary.

News crews everwhere

  At this point, my personal feeling is that the demonstrations on Saturday will not be as active as in the States since Canada is not in the same economic and social situation as America. The wealth inequality is not anywhere near the US (ratio of CEO salaries to workers’ wages here is 22:1 and 475:1 south of the border), the banks did not need to be bailed out, there was no housing bubble and economy went into a short, shallow recession. Also the cost of post secondary education is relatively low compared to America and student debt is subsequently manageable for most people. This does not mean that things could not be improved but I think the strong impetus for change is not present.

One of the younger members

Three of the volunteer facilitators

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