UPDATED TO REFLECT CURRENT INFORMATION
We live in a society which all too often rewards greed over honest work. This has led to a culture of fear and intimidation, where many people feel intensely pressured to toe the line or lose what they have.
We are very often told that as Canadians we are lucky. Our country has been least affected by the global economic crisis… so far. We still live in the best country in the world. And it’s true, we are lucky compared to some. At least, some of us are.
We allow ourselves to be lulled by this even as a sense of uneasiness grows. Some part of us knows all is not well. Even as the newspapers tell us we have nothing to complain about they report how a major energy corporation intentionally drove Alberta’s energy prices to highest in the country and cost Alberta residents millions. And how the punishment was extremely light.
You’d think this would be front page news, wouldn’t you? What did you see on the front page of the Calgary Herald on Tuesday November 8?
Occupy Calgary Showdown. A photo of a scruffy looking guy with full suitcases and a sheepish expression leaving St Patrick’s Island.
Alberta residents just got ripped off for millions by a corporation which controls 16 per cent of Alberta’s commercial power and are facing an extremely light penalty for it. But Matt McKellar and his fellow protesters get the front page. Oh those silly protesters.
The media rants and raves about the so far unverifiable $40,000 figure for damages supposedly caused by the demonstrators in Olympic Plaza, (go look, there is no damage, and if there is, we have several landscapers who have offered to replace the sod free of charge) yet it doesn’t even tell you that Stephen Harper did in fact bail out Canadian banks to the tune of $69 billion between 2008 and 2010.
That’s a pretty big, faraway figure isn’t it? If you divide that between 34 million Canadians that means the average person paid $2000. What could you do with 2 grand of your own hard earned money?
This same prime minister has cut veteran pension funding. The people who fought and risked their lives for the peace and freedom of the Canadian people have been told by that same country that it will not support them. Harper recently announced approval a $22 million budget for a war of 1812 reenactment. Does that look to anyone else like taking money from the living to give to the dead?
Sure, everything’s fine.
What does it mean to working Canadians who struggle to do good things for our society to see such evidence of callous disregard for our efforts by our own government?
Those of us who work the hardest, who care passionately enough about the work we do to pursue it despite low wages and unfavorable conditions, are often the most vulnerable to bullying by our employers. Especially at times of economic recession when jobs are scarce, many feel afraid to speak up against injustices within the workplace. Or even outside of it.
We have heard of several corporations which instructed their employees that any involvement with Occupy Calgary would result in immediate termination. We have at least one alleged example of a person being fired simply for having participated.
This would put the lie to the portrayed image of the protesters being a bunch of jobless bums. At least one of us used to have a job. This writer also has one and so do several others, unless things like this are allowed to go on.
Though the company in question states the termination letter was a fake and many have pointed out that the company is a reputable one, abuses of this sort do occur often between invividual human beings when one is in authority over the other.
The sad thing is that such abuses occur out of fear. Such is the sickness in our society. Perhaps even members of our local media are too intimidated to show us what is really going on without using misdirection tactics to distract from the dangers around us.
It is just this injustice that we seek to cast light on in the hope that people will find the courage to speak out against it. Not only the individual injustice of one lost job, but the all pervasive and deeply rooted injustice we all participate in when we shut our eyes and mouths to the truth.
Marcus Arsenault wasn’t afraid, but too many are.