Dear Nenshi – Why Occupy Calgary

Oh Nenshi. I understand your being miffed that someone put you as the organizer for the Occupy Calgary event. I really do. But in the article I read, you said you didn’t endorse Occupy Calgary, and you came across as someone who totally doesn’t understand why Calgarians would join this movement. I was a bit stunned.

I voted for you because you seemed different. You seemed like a guy who understood that we needed change. You seemed like a guy with vision and a new take on things. Maybe I was mistaken.

Now, it is possible you were commenting on the word choice. Yes, it is Occupy Wall Street and not Occupy New York, so why are Calgarians using Occupy Calgary? Well, we don’t have a sector of town like Wall Street that has that “this is where business happens” type of feel. Occupy Downtown doesn’t make sense. So they chose Occupy Calgary, just as has happened in a lot of cities that aren’t New York.

But I don’t think that is what you were really saying. I think you meant, “What is the point? We aren’t Wall Street… What does Calgary have to do with anything?” Correct me if I am wrong.

Calgary is home and host to a huge number of major corporations, both home offices and Canadian headquarters. It is an Oil and Gas Mecca. And the companies here do not all have a good track record for ethical behavior. Some of the protesters will be pointing that out. Others will no doubt be showing solidarity for the people the world over who are speaking out against unethical business and asking for a brighter future. The reasons to stand up right now and join this movement are legion. Each person who shows up at the protest will be there for reasons that they think are integral to the future of our city, our citizens, our province, our country, our economy, our global village, and our species.

I would so rather you had said something helpful, like that you were asking the citizens to protest peacefully or that you wanted the people to know that the police would be there to protect them, and not (as in so many other cities) to break them.

I thought you were the guy for me, Nenshi. I’m not ruling that out yet, but it is hard to have faith. Do you really not get why the people are willing to brave the police to have their voices heard?

This is a one per cent town, lots of oil money and conservative values. I get that. But not all of us are rich. I am the working poor. I have a college education and work a decent job, but I am divorced. I have four children and an ex-wife who rely on me in a major way to survive each month. I also have a girlfriend I live with who has a son who lives with us, and they rely on me too. I don’t expect a massive paycheck, but when I graduated college 14 years ago, I was being billed out at a higher rate with no experience than I get now. The cost of living has risen dramatically, my value as a resource is markedly higher (in that I can save corporations ridiculous quantities of money), and I’m worse off than I was.

And what about my kids? What do they stand to inherit? Irresponsible government, unethical employers, and subsistence living? We can do better than that, but we won’t unless things change.

And, no offence to you as a politician, but politician types aren’t changing anything. Neither are shareholders or corporate management. They all are invested in things staying precisely how they are. It is what makes them the 1%.

So what would you have us do? Wait for rich people to decide money is overrated? Watch while the unions dissolve and just be happy we have jobs no matter how bad it gets? Pray? Sorry but no.

The only thing we can do is exercise our rights to speak and assemble to spread the word. The longer we do, the more heads will turn, and the more heads we turn, the more things will have to change.

So that, my dear mayor, is why we Occupy Calgary. And now I ask you, what are you going to do?


This entry was posted in activism, economics, politics by biguglyjim. Bookmark the permalink.

About biguglyjim

Like a caterpillar that spins a coccoon and emerges as a walrus with a mohawk, Big Ugly Jim has become something unexpected. Raised a fine young Christian boy in the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jim began to question his teachings, first evaluating the wisdom of other religions and eventually realizing that none of them seemed any more accurate than any other, and not a one of them made a lick of sense. Today, Big Ugly Jim is a musician, a Business Analyst with Large Oil Company Whose Name Is Not Important, a music promoter with the Calgary Beer Core, a writer of fiction and non-fiction, a prick, an atheist, a father, an ex-husband, a role model, a horrifying vision in a red speedo (or at least he would be, if ever that happened which IT WOULD NOT), an announcer, and soon to be an officiator of weddings. Also, he's nice and does dishes. Jim continues to live in Calgary, spreading his filthy doctrine of free, critical thinking and appreciation for music.

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