Here’s a piece I’ve been meaning to write for at least two weeks. I thought perhaps the Occupy movement would have passed on before I got the chance to commit some of my thoughts to web-paper, but luckily the movement has surprised me by instead growing in strength and reach. This weekend, supporting protests will start in Toronto and Montreal (the two cities in which I reside) and add to that the coaxing of someone with whom I was fighting on Twitter and suddenly, the desire to write emerges.
The aforementioned Twitter fight was generally centred on some comments I’d made about the intent of the Occupy Toronto protest. Assuming, as I might, that the protest would take on a similar tone to the one in New York, I opined that potential occupiers might want to consider the status of Canada’s banks and its banking regulations before making themselves look foolish in the streets.
Thanks to the Bank Act of 1991 (enacted under the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney, which ain’t easy for me to admit) Canadian banks were not allowed to exist solely as investment entities, as was the case with large US institutions like Lehman Brothers. Knowing that, it seemed to me that a Bay Street protest might be the source of some misdirected anger. Even before 1991, Canadian banks didn’t have anywhere near the freedom to operate offered to American banks under the Glass Steagall Act (1933). So, if there is a problem with the banking system in Canada, one could argue that the problem lays in Ottawa with the regulators. In fact, I could make the same argument about the US as well. The difference in the US is that the banks, unfettered by regulation, began to act in a predatory manner which rightfully earned them the derision of the people.
Over the course of this exchange it was suggested to me that perhaps I was commenting on the protests without really know what they were about. In my defense, to the best of my knowledge and research, they weren’t about anything. The relatively empty Occupy Toronto website and Facebook (found here and here, respectively) did little to help me obtain the knowledge that it had been suggested I lacked. At that point, the argument hit an impasse. Actually, when I was accused of using “bizarre hyperbole” and I responded with the appropriately hyperbolic, “WRONG!”, then the discussion hit an impasse.