The Occupy people, part of a nebulous freethinking, unstructured no-label, we-are-not–a-group movement (if it can be called that), have received far too much media attention since the first rumblings came from Wall Street way. Now that the Toronto Occupiers have been evicted from St. James Park little need be said about any achievement. Perhaps the only reason for me to dwell on these people is that many, especially in Toronto’s alternate media, see Kalle Lasn of Adbusters as the Wizard of Oz, the fellow behind the curtain influencing the left leaning to stand up for anything that they believe in. And as Kalle is constantly identified as the “Estonian-born” Lasn in the mainstream media, one presumes that the Adbuster God wants to be known that way.
It is a shame that ancestral roots or birthplace must be identified in a place as diverse as Canada. Then again, here in Toronto, especially on the EE website, much is made about the earnestness and importance of being Estonian (Canadian). But one thinks that the leader of a guerrilla pseudo-anarchist movement need not trot out his Estonianness, but rather emphasize that of being Canadian, having received all of the advantages of a democratic tolerant society, and being crafty enough to use them to advantage. Not for common gain, but for getting attention.
I visited St. James Park, which once was a verdant, well-manicured oasis in the heart of the city out of curiosity both during the occupation and on the day the campers were evicted last week. No coherence, no sense of unity among the so-called 99 per cent was noticeable – it was truly a hodge-podge of demands ranging from the rational to the truly bizarre. The fact that unions became involved was risible – they, of all the so-called unfortunate 99%ers have it best, with job security, the right to strike, and benefits that many only dream about. Unions can cripple mass transportation, halt the educational process and set students back, hamper government services and do much, much more, solely for their members gain rather than for the benefit of the weal.
And of course many of the youthful participants, growing up in a land of plenty, simply have not lived long enough to understand what life is about. Wednesday of last week, when the orderly eviction as ordered by the courts was taking place, I was not the only person observing that was gobsmacked by the shiny SUVs piling up to help Johnny Rebel and Brittany Protester bundle up their Eddie Bauer sleeping bags and tents, caring parents taking their socially conscious yet precious offspring back to safe suburbia with pride, before they might be arrested.
What they left behind was a mess. The numbers of police officers required – especially the bicycle officers pulling time and a half on night shift on Wednesday last – was staggering. Who pays for the overtime? The taxpayer, part of the 99%. City forestry officials warned that the mature trees in the park were threatened, because the soil above their roots had been compacted by the protesters. All the grass will most likely have to be replaced with new sod, as it is unlikely that at this time of year any seeding efforts will be successful. As we know, it takes one unionized sodder to unroll a meter’s worth of fresh turf under the supervision of many more… And, pray tell, who pays for that? The taxpayer. From an already beleaguered city kitty. Finally, what about the local business owners, certainly part of the 99%, who saw a decrease of some 30% in income as a direct result of the smelly and noisy occupation? Who will compensate them?
To give Lasn some credit, he was quoted in a Canadian Press report published November 27th in the Toronto Star as saying his adopted home country (my italics) didn’t execute his vision the way he had hoped. But take only the word occupy. Lasn was born in an occupied country, his parents left Estonia because of an ideology that espoused equality. And Estonia suffered under communist rule for more than half a century while Lasn formed his ideological stance in comfort on Canada’s West Coast. Comrade Lasn and his entitled fellow travellers trampled not only on public land but also on public rights while protesting against financial inequality. Freedom of expression, so dear to many, means nothing if it is used to wreak havoc and place extra strains on the public purse.
One wonders: what will the occupiers do next? Will Lasn et al develop a coherent and intelligible message, be open to dialogue, without further alienating the majority? Lasn was quoted in the CP report that “in Canada, somehow we did lose the high ground.” Also, Lasn opined that the media chose not to see the “movement of young people (Lasn calls them the new left) fighting for a different kind of future, which is so beautiful and valid.” Instead, it was described as “a pesky irritation” concluded Lasn. Not so. It was an illegal occupation, proven so by the Ontario Supreme Court-ordered eviction, which denied others the right to peaceably move freely in a city where they pay taxes and work for an income. Shades of totalitarianism, from the new left…
The lack of focus by the disenchanted (why?) yet pampered scions of the suburban elite doomed the Occupy movement in major Toronto cities. A bandwagon that affects the majority rather than a 1% minority, as claimed, has no moral claim to demanding any rights beyond those found in Canada’s Charter. And even those they had no legal claim to, as proven and upheld by the law.
Now what for the new left?