27 November 2011

Twenty-six: Deflection

There has been a fascinating difference between how the Occupy movement was received in Canada versus the US. The occupations themselves seem to have ended the same, although more violently in some parts of the US, but the beginning of the occupations provoked quite different reactions.

In the US, everyone to the left of Fox News seems to have heralded this understandable reaction to the excesses of the banking sector in particular and big business in general, along with their disproportionate influence on politics. It took the Democratic Party quite a long time to embrace them with somewhat open arms.

In Canada, a whole other approach. Deflection. The Governor of the Bank of Canada expressing his understanding of the frustration that people can feel, but this is really about supporting the US movement, because they have something real to be upset about. Things just aren't that bad in Canada. This approach later repeated by other high level individuals, cabinet ministers, etc.

Oh really? I will give you that our banks were not as deregulated as their US counterparts, and that we have a somewhat less porous social safety net, what with medicare and all. If our banks did not teeter on the brink during the worst of the banking crisis, it is because they have been gouging us for a long time, so they are very solvent and stable. Is political power more widely distributed here than there? Wealth? Not particularly, but pointing southward worked.

Canadians didn't (and don't — it isn't over) take the movement as seriously and were more dismissive, less upset by the expulsions from public spaces. We sit here in our smug superiority pointing south to the real disparities and not seeing those at home.

A clever strategy on the part of our own ruling class, but no more respectful of the majority than the bare shows of force in some of the evictions in the US.

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