In September people took to Lower Manhattan in protest against bank bailouts, corporate greed, and the influence of Wall Street in the United States government. Since then, the protests have spread to more than 80 countries around the world. Among Canadian cities protesting was Ottawa, which held its first General Assembly on Saturday, October 15.
The movement has been widely criticized in mainstream media as somewhat disorganized and unclear. The common theme among Occupy Wall Street protests is frustration at the amount of influence corporations have within government, and the financial oppression that is happening around the world as a result.
The first General Assembly demonstrated how democracy could be used in everyday life. Those who attended the event were able to join a democratic process of decision-making. Concerned citizens asked questions, made proposals, and discussed friendly amendments. Everyone's vote counted, regardless of his or her riding.
A protester stated that the reason Brigette Depape stood with a "Stop Harper" sign during the government's throne speech was because she realized that Parliament was not the place where things get done. Depape, who was in attendance, approached the microphone. Part of her "Stop Harper" message, she said, was to state that democracy is not something that happens once every four years, but every day in our decision-making.
"This is really exciting to see how democracy can work, when we make it work," Depape said.
German-born French diplomat Stephane Hessel, author of the explosive best seller Time for Outrage, urges young people to reject the power of money and markets by defending the social values of modern democracy. This is the main focus for Occupy Wall Street protests happening around the world.
"And against injustice, our anger remains intact. Indeed, the threat persists," Hessel writes. "We therefore maintain our call for a rebellion--peaceful and resolute--against the instruments of mass media that offer our young people a worldview defined by the temptations of mass consumption, a disdain for the weak, a contempt for culture, historical amnesia, and the relentless competition of all against all."
The General Assembly reached consensus on locating the assembly at Confederation Park, in particular because the 117 protesters who were arrested at the Tar Sands protest earlier in the month could not legally return to Parliament Hill.
On Wednesday October 19, the Occupy Ottawa protest march passed outside the Sheraton Hotel at O'Connor and Albert, drawing attention to the policy panel event on Canada-U.S. political and economic integration. Key speakers at that event included the Vice President of the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute.
Citizens are invited to visit the Confederation Park occupation tent anytime. Assemblies happen daily at 6:30 in the evening, and meetings are held at 10:00 in the morning.
"The basic motive of the Resistance was indignation. We, veterans of the French Resistance and the combat forces that freed our country, call on you, our younger generations, to revive and carry forward the meritage and ideals of the Resistance. Here is our message: It's time to take over! It's time to get angry! Politicians, economists, intellectuals, do not surrender! The true fabric of our society remains strong. Let us not be defeated by the tyranny of the world financial markets that threaten peace and democracy everywhere."