South of the border, it’s being compared to the Arab Spring that swept across the Middle East earlier this year, toppling dictatorships that up to then were seen as entrenched with an iron fist.
What started in the U.S. as a call for action by a Canadian-founded, not-for-profit, anti-consumerist organization called Adbusters, is sweeping across America like wildfire in light of the tough economic times.
And now Canadians are following their American cousins’ lead.
Occupy Wall Street, the name given to the group that started the grassroots protest in New York City in August, has now spawned similar protests in 45 U.S. states. The only difference: the name of the city after the word “occupy.”
Canadian groups are organizing similar protests, all in the name of the little people. A Kelowna protest has been scheduled for Kerry Park downtown on Oct. 15. And the overriding message from all these protests seems simple enough — the protesters are asking government, what about me?
Claiming to represent the 99 per cent of the population who are not rich, who are either just making ends meet with their paycheques, or who have lost their jobs and can’t find another, or who have to decide between rent and food, the movement appears to have lots of potential supporters.
And it is bringing them together, a demand help from the politicians—politicians of all all stripes.
But as with any leaderless, grassroots protest with undefined targets, the disparate points of views are wide-ranging and the potential to have it fall apart is always there.
Middle class workers may be joining with the homeless, the unemployed may be joining with those who have jobs, people whose politics fall on the left may be marching with those on the right but does everyone really feel the same way? Do they all have one thing in common?
Sure, they are unhappy. But are they, as the 1970s movie Network put it, mad as hell and not going to take it any more?
This is not North America’s Arab Spring? It’s another chance to protest and. as we have seen of late— especially in B.C.— the attraction of protest is a strong one.
Unlike the Middle East, where people protested for democracy, Americans, and now Canadians, are protesting against economics.
It seems to me like another opportunity for anyone with a beef to join a crowd, shout, yell and try to stick it to the “Man.”
Alistair Waters is the Capital News’ assistant editor.