One of the more common concerns of the worldwide Occupy movement is the way money influences government. We in Canada believe we live in a democracy. While it is true that we have a small influence in choosing our federal, provincial and municipal governments through our vote, the truth is that we actually have very little influence over what these governments do.
We elect our representatives and hope that they will make ethical use of their power. But having handed them the reins we are forced to sit in the back seat and be carried to a destination none of us would have agreed to had the facts been available at the outset. We rarely have adequate information about where they are taking us.
Government policy is directly influenced by those who can afford to pay to be heard. This means that in action the will of the people is not represented.
One excellent local example is our recent post examining the expenditures of the 14 aldermen vs their actual needed budget.
In his blog post suggesting creating limits on campaign funding, Mayor Nenshi says, “Friends,we need to make major changes to the way we fund our city elections. In thelast ten years, we’ve had our fair share of million-dollar-campaigns that often squeeze out the good ideas and good candidates that have less money behind them. And if money is what it takes to have your voice heard over your opponents, our democracy has a serious problem. “
We in Occupy could not agree more.
It did not escape our notice that Diane Colley-Urquhart’s excesses were second highest on that list. As the most vocal anti-Occupy alderman we wonder if she feels just a little threatened by our message. After all, were we to succeed in raising the public voice against such excesses, she might not even be able to hold on to her job.
Meanwhile Nenshi has stated that he intends to continue to respect the Charter rights of the Calgarian citizens choosing to participate.
In addition to Colley-Urquhart’s suggestions to violate the Charter rights of Canadians, she now also wants to change the bylaws in order to muzzle future protests. Her tactics must not be tolerated. Below is the latest in her series of attempts to silence this protest which directly challenges the power of people like herself.
It is very interesting to note her reaction in light of the fact that, according to her bio, “In 2005, Diane was again honoured with the Alberta Centennial Medal for her work in diversity and human rights initiatives.” She presents herself as an award winning leader in human rights initiatives and yet she is fully prepared to run right over those same rights due to the minor inconvenience of a continuous occupation of a tiny corner of a park normally overrun with drug dealers.
If her proposed plan to “correct any legislative deficiencies in our bylaws with respect to regulating activities in public spaces, ” and “that there will be a timely and efficient process in place to ensure that future protest activities will be managed consistently.” runs counter to the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadian citizens they will necessarily be illegal laws. I feel that we have little to worry about with respect to her power to end this protest.
I feel her frustration and rage against this protest is a very good sign that it is necessary, and that in causing her to show her hand in this way, we are successful in exposing the corruption rampant even in our municipal government.
2011 November 7th URGENT NOTICE OF MOTION
RE: Takeover of Public Places by Protest Groups
WHEREAS the “Occupy Calgary” group has been present in Olympic Plaza and St. Patrick’s Island for approximately one month, and has taken over these park spaces 24 hours a day, and
WHEREAS the loosely organized group has erected tents in the park space and does not intend on leaving, and
WHEREAS the continued takeover is inconsistent with intended use of public parks space and interferes with public access, the use of parks space, and the maintenance of the parks, and
WHEREAS the continued takeover is violating municipal bylaws, interfering with the general public’s peaceful enjoyment of the park facilities, and causing damage to public infrastructure, and
WHEREAS the protestors have had more than adequate time to make their concerns known,
WHEREAS the majority of Calgarians wanted this matter dealt with promptly, and
WHEREAS there have been many mixed messages from City Administration on what actions can be taken with respect to the takeover of the park space and how it can be brought to a timely resolution, and
WHEREAS there have been concerns raised on many fronts with respect to the effectiveness or enforceability of the City’s Bylaws to regulate these public spaces;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Administration bring forward a report and recommendations directly to Council as soon as possible on the actions taken in this matter with respect to:
a) The agencies involved,
b) Their authority or mandate to act on this matter,
c) What resources were mobilized to react to the situation,
d) The costs of these actions,
e) A plan to review our legislation and authority to regulate such matters,
f) A plan to correct any legislative deficiencies in our bylaws with respect to regulating activities in public spaces, and
g) Assurances that there will be a timely and efficient process in place to ensure that future protest activities will be managed consistently.