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Occupiers need focus

In recent weeks, liberal-minded people from across the continent have flocked to America's - and now Canada's - financial capitals to demand, well, something.

In recent weeks, liberal-minded people from across the continent have flocked to America's - and now Canada's - financial capitals to demand, well, something.

It's not entirely clear what the protesters of the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Canada movements want, only to point out the obscene financial disparity in both countries and the astonishing greed of the wealthiest.

After the 2008 financial crisis, it's hard to disagree with the sentiment, but unless the protest becomes more focused, it may not make any difference.

Political movements tend to succeed when they demand a specific legislative change. On one hand, this ragtag group in Zuccotti Park and their Canadian counterparts are far from doing this, instead voicing a plethora of conflicting demands intended, broadly speaking, to address income disparity.

On the other hand, it is the group's diversity that is its strength. Nevertheless, the activists might be smart to choose a single target, and we say that target should be election finance.

In the United States, especially, lawmakers are handicapped by a system that allows big companies and even whole industries to bankroll political campaigns to the tune of millions of dollars.

Beholden to donors, officials habitually gut legislation that would benefit ordinary people in favour of laws that help the wealthy few - witness their attempt to reign in reckless investment practices after the 2008 crisis.

This is less true in Canada, where unions and corporations can't make donations, but at the provincial level - in British Columbia, anyway - the system is still a free-forall. Vancouver protesters should focus their ire there.

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