Democracy Lives In The Heart Of ‘Occupy Toronto’

By Mark Taliano and Tori Crispo

Every once in a while, real democracy breaks out.  It was conspicuously absent during the most recent provincial election, but it raised its head on Saturday, October 15, for the debut of “Occupy Toronto.”

Even dogs came out against fat cats on Bay Street in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Mark Taliano and Tori Crispo

Three thousand protesters from every demographic peacefully assembled at King and Bay Streets in the middle of the towering financial district, and then marched along Jarvis Street to St. James Park, where some will be camping into the month of December.

Some might suggest that there is no clear leadership, and no clear message.  But the message lies in the well-researched signs, and the leadership is horizontal, rather than hierarchical.  Everyone has an equal voice.An underlying theme is “Corporate Greed”, which has many faces. The prism through which many see it looks something like this: Every corporation depends on taxpayers for its survival but the corporations take the profits, while the public is invariably burdened with the risks. It’s not a fair deal, and a redistribution of wealth and power is in order.

As an example, during the recent financial crisis in Canada, the risks were transferred to and insured by the public domain. According to CMHC, $340 billion of public funds were needed for this bailout. Mainstream corporate media conveniently suggests that there wasn’t a bailout of the financial district, but there was, though it took on a different face than the U.S version.

The telecommunications industry also depends on the public domain. Taxpayers fund the military, and it is the military which does the lion’s share of the Research and Development for private corporations.  Mobile phones, G.P.S devices etc. are all military/taxpayer funded inventions.

Other bailouts are more transparent (i.e the auto industry), but almost every corporation enjoys publicly-funded subsidies.

A significant problem is that these publicly dependent corporations, which have accrued enormous legal powers, are greedily devouring their base:  the middle class in Canada is quickly disappearing, and society is being re-structured along third world lines, with a very small minority of rich governing a huge mass of poor (thus the protesters referring to themselves as the “99 %”.) In a strong democracy, public policy drives corporations, not the other way around.

Canadian unions, a hallmark of democracy, are being dismantled, and income disparities are growing rapidly.  Sixty-one people in Canada own two times more than the “bottom half”. These are not vacuous slogans; the information on protest signs is well documented.

The myth of “scarcity”, convenient for corporate and political propaganda, is also false.  If the public domain gains its rightful place, money and power will be redistributed so that public institutions (i.e hospitals) can fence out corporations and regain their health and competence, for the benefit of all, including the rich.

Redistribution also means re-negotiating trade agreements such as NAFTA, which currently disfavours about 70% of the population (this according to a New York Times article published AFTER the deal was ratified.).

It also means that our country’s harvests should not be discarded in the oceans and elsewhere so that we get a better price for remaining products.  Too many people are literally starving worldwide for such capitalist excesses.

It behooves us to restructure this self-devouring economic model, and support Occupy Toronto. Our democracy demands it.

Mark Taliano and Tori Crispo are residents of Niagara and contributors of commentaries to Niagara At Large.

(We invite our readers to share your views on contents of this post below. Please remember that Niagara At Large only accepts comments from real people who are willing to share their real first and last names to them. Visit Niagara At Large regularly at http://www.niagaraatlarge.com.)

10 responses to “Democracy Lives In The Heart Of ‘Occupy Toronto’

  1. Maybe you could start by boycotting the corporations of which you speak. Do without their products. Stop using the computer you purchased from a globalized company.

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  2. The corporations need to be reined in, and the public sector needs to be strengthened; otherwise, democracy will continue to fight a losing battle, to the detriment of you and me.

    An example of corporate inroads and the cost:If P3 hospitals and commercialized healthcare continue to make inroads into Canada, we will be affected detrimentally. Any number of valid studies by Americans or Canadians will demonstrate that commercialized healthcare is extraordinarily inefficient compared to the public model. Our public voice will also be diminished in such an arrangement.

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  3. Down here in Fort Erie we need health care period. The public model has failed us. Commercialized health care would serve us better than the crumbs that are being thrown to us right now.

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  4. Hey Nick – As the publisher of this site, I normally don’t wade in to the comments below the posts but I can’t leave your last comment alone around unravelling virtually everything Tommy Douglas dedicated his years in politics to – and when you are talking about private or “commercialized health care,” as you put it, that is the slope you are advocating we in the province and country slip down. Most of my friends and relatives live in and are citizens of the United States and what most of them say whenever the topic of health care comes up is that we don’t get “crumbs” here, however many problems in the system we are wrestling with. If you don’t think that is true and you like private health more, you live close to the border. Why don’t you just pack up and move to New York State or Pennsylvania or New Jersey and enjoy the private health care opportunities there. My friends there can tell you all kinds of stories about people who’ve had to use the mortgage on their homes and all their other life savings to pay for a life-threatening medical crisis in their families. But apparently that is better than what you call “the crumbs” we get here. Doug Draper, Niagara At Large.

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  5. Fort Erie deserves a fully-funded public hospital. There’s plenty of money for it (including the money that was donated from fund-raising over the years). Some politicians would have us believe that there isn’t enough money to justify a Fort Erie hospital, but that ties in with the convenient “scarcity” myth; the money is there if the government priorities are aligned with public welfare versus corporate welfare.

    By the way, the Rich’s factory in Fort Erie benefited from a large infusion of public monies. I hope they’re being good corporate citizens (somewhat of an oxymoron these days).

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  6. Doug, why should I have to move? I am all for public health care. We should all thank Tommy Douglas. My problem with public health care is that I’m not getting my fair share. Given the choice of pay more or die I think I would opt for the first option.
    I have always been involved with community service and I find Rich’s to be an excellent example of being a good corporate citizen.

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  7. That’s great Nick that you are all for public health care. Then why not help some of us fight for it rather than say you’d go to ‘commercial’ or private health care?
    You say you’re not getting your fair share, and who is?
    I just spent the better part of 11 hours in an emergency room with my 88-year-old father in Welland on the Thanksgiving weekend because of the number of cases going through there. He was an honest small business person for more than 50 years in this region and paid his taxes for health care, and suffered through a wait like that.
    So we are all paying a price for problems here. You seem to want to go commercial, which is why I suggested you should go south for your health care. I don’t know why you seem to be offended by that if you prefer their private systems. You suggest that private or commercialized care in the United States is superior to what we have here. If I’ve misinterpreted your comments in some way, then why dump on people who are fighting to preserve and restore our system of universal public health care here? I don’t get it. Doug Draper

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  8. I am fighting to get our share of public health care. The entire southern tier is getting screwed and people are dying. You will never convince a dying person or their family to agree that commercial hospitals are worse than no hospital at all. What I am saying is that I am in favour of our public health care system when it gives the entire “public” health care. When they leave us no alternative are we just supposed to roll over and die or seek help elsewhere?

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  9. I don’t have a problem with regulating the private sector but strengthening the public sector? Being ruled by public servants and bureaucrats is equally distasteful as being ripped off by corporate fat cats.

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  10. You want to trust your life to Karl Peladeau? Me neither. Public versus private? Government is in bed with the private sector. Our public universities were starved for funds, so they let in the big corporations, which now determine what kind of research gets done. Our hospitals were starved for funds, so they let in the insurance companies, and now risk management rules, rather than quality of care. We get what we pay for, and we apparently would rather have fighter jets than healthcare. We’re not willing to challenge the bullshit our political masters shovel out, or the pretense that their control of “the economy” is a fairytale. We have what we deserve — a mess that’s getting worse every day.

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