With legitimate civil discourse having evaporated some time ago, the Occupy movement in Canada would seem to be on its last tent pegs. The camps are coming down, and with them will fall the outward symbol of Occupy’s ultimately doomed-to-fail protest.
City officials in London, Ont., were the first to send in police to remove Occupy campers set up in a park there. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, meantime, had lawyers in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday in a bid to get an injunction to end the controversial three-week-old Occupy squat taking place on the grounds of the art gallery.
The judge granted the city a partial injunction, which forces occupiers to abide by any demands made by the city fire marshal. That will certainly mean some tents will come down. But the removal of all those being used for overnight accommodations is inevitable.
Just as it is in Victoria and most other Canadian cities where Occupy has set up shop. Listen to the voices of even the most progressive-minded of mayors, such as Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi, and you can hear the sound of patience running thin. Mr. Nenshi has all but guaranteed that the Occupy camp at the Olympic Plaza will soon be shut down.
Mayor Rob Ford has effectively issued the same warning in Toronto. Even in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is strongly hinting that the most famous Occupy site of them all, the one at Zuccotti Park, will soon be closed.
It’s almost like a universal memo has gone out: It’s time to act.
Many will see this development as a sad thing, and in some ways it is. But the noble sentiments that brought Occupy to the fore, the ones that had many of us nodding silently in agreement, have long since been forgotten. A leaderless movement that initially attracted a disparate collection of well-meaning activists along with just plain folk was ultimately hijacked by a hoi polloi with questionable ambitions.
Encampments morphed into outdoor homeless shelters, with all the attendant social problems they attract. In places like Vancouver, there would soon be drug overdoses (and one death) to deal with as well as assaults on police and fire personnel by hooded thugs in Doc Martens claiming to be modern-day freedom fighters. In Victoria, one occupier dumped a bucket of urine on the head of a city official.
Meantime, the rabble that rose each morning from their tents headed off to attend meetings intended to build the infrastructure of some kind of fairy-tale parallel society. Before our eyes, an anarchist collective was drafting a set of demands; the terms, apparently, of any kind of surrender.
Among them: an independent investigation into the events of 9/11, the establishment of two police forces (one to prove your guilt, another to prove your innocence), the legalization of most drugs, a redrafting of parts of the Constitution and the release of all non-violent prisoners.
When you asked occupiers what it was they were fighting for, the discussion would often turn to the quaint notion of devolving our democratic system as we know it into a more utopian version in which we all shared equally. Who wouldn’t want that? Except for the general havoc and chaos the devolvement part might produce.
With each passing day, support for the Occupy movement among the 99 per cent it was supposed to be fighting for has dissipated more. When occupiers in Vancouver disrupted a mayoralty campaign debate and threatened another riot if they didn’t get their way, you could almost hear the air going out of the movement. Not just in Vancouver, everywhere.
The earnest souls involved in the cause at the outset, who, although young and idealistic, thought something good could be built on the foundation of this movement, were either pushed to the sidelines or sought sanctuary there. Increasingly, early supporters have been awakening to the hopelessness of the situation.
The idea that the Arab Spring could produce a Tahrir moment for the rest of us was always pretty remote, even if the idea was rooted in the right cause. The odds were always against a leaderless, non-hierarchical movement producing something as grandiose as a new model of democracy.
Now the Occupy movement is dying. And not a lot of people seem to care.