Wall Street occupation inspires Canadian protesters
Inspired by protesters along Wall Street and in other U.S. cities, hundreds are expected to occupy Toronto's Bay Street in two weeks to air their various grievances against the financial system and its wealthiest companies.
The protest near Wall Street in New York is entering its third week, and doesn't appear to be slowing down. In fact, a police crackdown has only emboldened protesters and some are now expecting the "occupation" to continue into the winter.
The organizers of Occupy Toronto plan to descend on King and Bay Streets on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 15 to set a base of operation to prepare for a march on that Monday. Organizers hope the occupation will last into the following week.
It's not clear how or if the goals of the Occupy Toronto organizers differ from their American counterparts. In the U.S., the main complaints have been bank bailouts, the lack of financial oversight that led to recession, foreclosures and high unemployment.
Canada bailed out its auto industry but not its banks, and many of the problems that have plagued the American financial system do not have easy parallels north of the border.
But the U.S. protests suggest Occupy Toronto could have a greater reach than its core demonstrators, which includes veterans of the G20 in summer 2010.
Recently, some unions have begun demonstrating with the Wall Street protest, which suggests the movement could receive some well organized and heavily financed support.
Some commentators have compared the protests to a left-wing version of the initial stages of the Tea Party movement. However, one of the main criticisms of the New York movement is that it is leaderless and has dozens of different answers for "why are you here and what do you want?"
The Occupy Toronto Market Exchange held its first meeting on Sept. 29. The group had about 2,400 "likes" on Facebook as of Friday evening, with more than 600 people planning on "attending" the action.
A video clip posted to YouTube on Friday encourages protesters to "occupy" the intersection at King Street West and York Street on Oct. 15, "as part of a global movement."
On the west coast, protesters are organizing a similar demonstration on the same day in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. By Friday evening, more than 800 people said they planned to attend that protest, according to Facebook.
Both events are apparently scheduled to last until Dec. 31.
Spurred on by the success of similar protests, demonstrators across Canada have been trying to mobilize via social media.
Protesters in Edmonton intend to hold a brainstorming meeting on Oct. 6 ahead of an "Occupy Edmonton" protest, according to a Facebook event.
Cities such as Calgary, Saskatoon, Montreal, Winnipeg and Regina also have Facebook pages but it's unclear whether protesters have arranged any meetings yet.
Demonstrators from all of the above cities have also been posting messages to Twitter, using the hashtag "#Occupy" followed by the city's name.