Today I got a chance to finally go down to the site of the Take Over Canada, protest that was happening in Victoria Park. There were tents set up, portable toilettes and an air of quiet resistance. I noticed a lack of reporters and police presence, in fact I saw none of either of them. The only real interest that was being shown was by some passing citizens, a few tourists and people like me who came down to show our support for the protest and donate to their cause.
The question always arises why does there have to be violence when a group decides to protest their governments actions, or policies and walking about and through the area I think I understand the reason. No police, no violence = no press, no attention and no change. These people are well organised they have a place for donations set up where you can bring donations of just about everything from cash to clothing and even food. There is nothing that these people do not need and with the colder weather coming on and the Mayor, (Mayor Tremblay) refusing to hook them up with electricity, the protesters are going to need a lot of just about everything, if this protest is to survive a Montreal winter.
There is a make shift type hospital set up to deal with minor injuries right there on the site and from the looks of things, it would appear that is manned at all times. I saw sofas outside and inside of tents and signs of protest all over about a wide range of things, but the main theme seemed to be that the earth and therefore the world was not for sale. They were trying to expose the government’s refusal to help the poor and how it caters to the one percent of the worlds richest people and ignores the 99% of the rest of the world’s population, ignoring our needs.
There was a kitchen set up where a person could get something to eat bought through donations, or brought in as a donation. They only asked that you do your own dishes and keep the whole protest area neat and clean. To this end there was a stall set up where dishes could be washed and in the album below you will see it along with a young man doing some dishes. The tone was quiet no noise, no chanting just people sitting in groups discussing things. I did notice a schedule of events, times and places of same posted next to a drawing of the area in what seemed to be the main area of the encampment. There was a lot of signs and a lot of literature at hand on tables, but no one was handing them out, or round to let you know that you could touch anything, let alone take anything. I could sense that this group was in for the long haul, but in its absolute committment to keeping things orderly and peaceful may have shot itself in the foot. The government has taken the approach of do nothing to draw attention to this action and let us see if the winter that is fast approaching will move them for us. All levels of government are hoping that the freezing cold of a Canadian winter will soon remove the protesters in Montreal’s Victoria Square Park and from all other occupations of this sort in Canada from the square and all occupied areas, doing their dirty work for them. With no noise there is no story and the message although important as it ever was, grows stale and repetitive. I feel they are going to have to get a little more noisy if they wish to hold onto their support and really make a difference. I am not advocating that they get violent, I am just saying that you are not occupying something, or some place if the government is allowing you to do it and you are following government guidelines to be allowed to stay where you are.
I understand that this group wanted to occupy another park and applied to the Mayor to do it. Come on ladies and gentlemen that is not the way. March over to the park and begin squatting, that is a take over. The people need to make this protest come alive again. The spirit and eagerness that was there in the beginning of this protests seems to be missing and the message that this group is trying to convey seems to be so widespread, with so many different factions, points and issues, that one misses them all, like the forest for the trees. As I wandered through the site no one approached trying to educate me, or to get me to sign a petition, or hand me literature and so other than taking some pictures of the tents, the site and the surrounding area, I came away just as uninformed as when I arrived and for the average person that means they know only what was said in the main stream government pro media.
I think that the people of the protest have forgotten that to be successful in a fight and that is what a protest is no matter how non violent, that the protesters must keep the pressure on the government, make the purpose of the protest clear and never lose an opportunity to keep the public aware of its fight and well-informed. I did not see this on my visit to the site. What I did see was a group of well-meaning people, some not quite sure what they were protesting for camping out in a park. They were sitting around talking and looking very cold. It seemed to me that this group was relying on the publicity of world attention to get their message out there and assuming that everyone knows what they are all about. The government by the lack of police presence and counter rhetoric has already dismissed them and is feeling pretty safe that this can be waited out. They have not dignified this protest with even a minimal fight.
I left there thinking that I knew they were there for a good reason and a just cause, but after looking at all of the signs I was not exactly sure anymore what that reason was. I thought to myself that these people will need the harshness of the winter to get back the attention that their initial march which led to the eventual occupation of the park got them. As I said in an earlier post, “To get that many people to do this and to be part of the bigger protest all over the world has made this a successful protest already”, but if it is to be taken seriously by this government and affect real change in this country then it must do more to educate people, encourage participation, gather it’s grass-roots support and grow. It must reach out and grow in membership, it must get louder, it must stop being safe, come out of its shell and start screaming “Stop, We Want You To Stop” You can not make an omelette if you are afraid to break a few eggs. In other words you can have a non violent protest and still make noise, still make waves and still be open to civil disobedience. What we have so far is a government sanctioned sit in, that is following the governments rules and regulations and is being quiet and not making a scene and not applying any pressure on the government to change its ways.
I hope things change for these protesters and that the organisers seek more involvement from the public and try to do some of the things that I have suggested, like passing out information leaflets, getting a petition going, engaging people passing through their site in conversation in both official languages, informing passers through their site of their objectives and what is motivating them to do this thing. If they do this I feel strongly that they will see a spike in the coverage of their protest, a more serious attitude from all levels of the Canadian government and a better informed general public ready to support them in all the ways that are required if they are to succeed in affecting change.
- Occupying Wall Streets All Over The World / A Protest For Equality For All (archemdis.wordpress.com)
- Occupy London is a nursery for the mind | Madeleine Bunting (guardian.co.uk)
- Occupy campers prepare for winter under city pressures (cbc.ca)
- Locals stop efforts vs. Occupy protesters (politico.com)
- Occupy protesters prepare for Iowa winter (thegazette.com)
- Protesters Temporarily Shut Down Windsor-Detroit Bridge (huffingtonpost.ca)
- TD bank exec sees ‘good side’ to Occupy movement (ctv.ca)
- Occupy Canada protests persist as work week begins (cbc.ca)
These are some of the pictures I took of the protest site to illustrate just how many different things the protesters are trying to bring to our attention worldwide and at home. I believe that they are trying to show that this is not about one country, or one dictator doing wrong to their people, but this is a well organised strategy by the major governmental players in the world, the banks, big business and the richest 1% of the world’s population to dominate the world and continue not to share with the 99% of the world’s population any of the wealth, benefits, or grant them a say in how the economic, environmental, or social policies of the world are put into place. I think that these protesters have the right idea, but the Gandhi era is gone. Gone are the governments of yesterday that stood up for the oppressed little guy, so the self-sacrificing quiet peaceful protest of a Gandhi falls on deaf ears in today’s world with men and women in charge of the countries like Canada who would take up the fight and apply pressure to the offending country, now responsible for the oppression and suffering around the world. It isn’t that these people who are protesting are not right, it is just that the media is just another big business and the protesters are expecting the heads of these multibillion dollar operations to shoot themselves in the head by exposing their duplicity and complicity in these wrong doings, when all these news agencies care about is making a profit. this is just not going to happen as evidenced by the lack of coverage and then the type of coverage that was given this protest. If you can look at these pictures in this album and not do anything and not feel anything then you are a part of the problem and not a part of the solution in my personal opinion.