Coming Soon to Canada: The Occupy Wall Street Movement

It’s been called a growing mob, a bunch of troublemakers and a collection of unemployed lazy people with nothing to do. But one thing the Occupy Wall Street Movement can’t be called — is unpopular.

In fact it’s gained so much notoriety, that the movement to protest corruption in banks is coming to Canada.

The group says they represent the bottom 99% of America. They claim to be the ones most affected in the recent economic downturn by no fault of their own.  They lay the blame squarely at the bankers and financial institutions of the world for driving a deep divide between America’s rich and poor.

But is that the case in Canada?

I agree that greedy banks and lax governments forced the world into an economic downturn. An anything-goes atmosphere is to blame for the financial implosion that occurred in 2008, leading to the worst global recession in six decades. Laid back lending rules and complicated investment products that bankers called “sophisticated” is the root of most of the problems.

But is Canada to blame for any of this?

Our Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says he understands the “legitimate frustration” of Occupy Wall Street protesters in the U.S. But he points to our progressive tax system as proof that Canada is nothing like its American cousins, and the protestor’s efforts are useless here.

I have no issues with people protesting, it’s our democratic right to raise our voice when we feel we have been taken advantage of or overlooked.

The global financial crisis in now into its third year and people are irritated with their situations.  The unemployed are sick of hearing about CEO’s who were given millions in severance packages to step down from their positions and some are fed up with banks continuing to post record profits, despite the rest of the world spiraling out of control. I can see why people are angry.

But the root of the problem goes back decades and the repercussion of the protests spreading could have long term affects that will divide the world into two classes. The super rich and the poor.

That’s the sad reality.

The deep seeded resentment of the protestors comes from years of people feeling under paid, under valued and mistreated. In the work place, in the neighborhoods they live in and in the way they’re represented in society. The middle class has always bowed to the pressure of the rich.

Now a huge portion of the middle class in the U.S. and Canada is in record debt, unemployed and living in homes they can no longer afford.

The American (or Canadian) dream has become a real life nightmare for some.

Many of the protestors are men and women who before the crisis would never dream of joining a movement like Occupy Wall Street. Fast-forward four years and those people are now on the front lines of these demonstrations. Some on Wall Street may even be demonstrating in front of buildings they once worked in.

The middle class is what keeps the economic engine running in North America, up until last year 70% of Canadians were considered middle class.  Truthfully, without them North America is finished.

Canada is not directly to blame for the financial crisis but all the problems that exist in the U.S are here as well, high unemployment, record number of debt and rising costs.

The protest oddly starts on Saturday when no one is working on Bay Street, but the message is not misplaced.  This is a wake up call to bankers and government officials that Canadians are just as irritated as the rest of the world and something has got to change to get people back to work and out of debt.

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