TD bank exec sees 'good side' to Occupy movement
The head of Canada's second largest bank says the lack of solutions offered by the Occupy Wall Street movement -- a point that has drawn widespread criticism -- may be actually one of its greatest strengths.
"The good side of Occupy Wall Street is that they're saying, ‘This isn't working for me. There's something going wrong here and we don't like it,'" Ed Clark, the CEO of TD Bank, said Sunday.
So far, protesters have avoided what Clark sees as "the biggest risk," which is latching on to a solution prematurely.
"In my view, the problem is that people move too fast from defining the problem to defining the solution when we haven't really got a consensus around what is really the nature of the problem we have to deal with," Clark told CTV's Power Play from Toronto.
While he worries the movement might eventually be "taken over" by "more radical groups," the protests have until now been "a positive force in saying, ‘Let's be clear, something's not working here.'"
Other Canadian financial leaders, including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, have also lent cautious words of support to the protesters.
Clark's comments come as weeks-old Occupy demonstrations in a number of cities across Canada, the U.S. and Europe face mounting pressure to relocate or pack up their encampments.
Protesters who have set up on Wall Street in New York are weathering the first snow storm of the season, while those living at the foot of St. Paul's Cathedral in London are facing legal action to relocate them elsewhere. Meanwhile in Oakland, an Iraq war veteran suffered a fractured skull and brain swelling after police cracked down on protesters.
North of the border, protesters who have set up in Halifax's Grand Parade Square have been asked to leave by Nov. 6. Their decision is expected Monday. And Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has said he would like to see tents come down outside Vancouver's main art gallery.
More than a month after the movement began, activists in less temperate climates in the U.S. and Canada have pledged to continue their public demonstration through the winter months in an effort to draw attention to economic inequality and corporate greed.
The activist have pointed to rising salaries of CEOs, particularly in the banking and finance sector, as an example of growing economic inequality.
Clark, whose salary rose 9 per cent last year and whose bank has been recording record profits, said the issue of high pay for executives is hard to fix.
"We live in a market economy," which means that paying executives less than the market rate will make it hard to attract the cream of the crop, he said.
"Personally what I've always said is… what you do with your pay matters. You can solve this problem on how you behave personally in terms of charitable donations and things like that, and try to reconcile that dilemma."