Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HRM Council Supported Occupy NS Eviction

The timing of the eviction of the OccupyNS protesters is not the issue, the fact that HRM Council supported the eviction is the issue. This was done in camera, and it indicates the true feelings of the members of Council who felt safe voting this action wile out of the public eye. Mayor Peter Kelly could not have enabled this action without the support of Council.

That it was done on Remembrance Day only emphasizes how out of touch the Council is, and emphasizes the callous and shallow approach of this Council. It is no surprise that once public opinion against this action became apparent that the mea cuplas started to appear. Some apologizing for the timing of the event, not for the eviction itself, others for playing a part in the event at all. Silence from the rest.

I went down to Victoria Square when the word went out that the evictions were happening, not a Councillor in sight. This was very telling to me. Where there was goodwill and a spirit of cooperation before, I now witnessed a scene of polarization, dismay, and betrayal. It was one of the most disheartening things I have ever witnessed here in Halifax.

There are many who applaud the evictions, and they rightly site some valid concerns, such as health and safety, and yes, the look of things. The discomfort elicited in these things beg for a considered examination of the problems these protests represent: lack of affordable housing, barriers to income, corporate manipulation of government, loss of voice for whole sectors of society. It matters what happens in Halifax, it matters in the global picture for the Occupy movement.

The members, and interested citizens for the Occupy movement are your sons and daughters, your sisters and brothers, your mothers and fathers. It is about the next generation, it is not about today. Politicians, corporate heads, police officers and so forth,  have children participating, students are engaged, all kinds of interests and concerns are represented. For our council to turn it's back on this event is not, in my opinion, redeemable. The issues are clear and the choices were made and there are many consequences that will follow.

The Occupy movement is not the sole purview of any government, party, union or business. It represents people, and it represents a cooperative approach to resolving social concerns, and it requires working with government, political parties, unions and business to change the status quo. If any one interest dominates the movement, the voice of People is lost.

I submit to you that the police operate to uphold the law and at the direction of government. To focus solely on the police action is to not focus on the governmental directives and this is a tactical error in our social debates. To not hold our elected representatives to account is a grave error and a disservice to the Occupy movement.