Newsmaker: Activists speak on the Occupy Montreal movement
MONTREAL - Starting in New York a month ago with Occupy Wall Street, thousands of people have demonstrated for a mass of causes linked by economic disparity. Similar protests are taking place across Canada -- including Montreal -- and throughout the world Saturday.
Students, unions, homeless people, artists, drummers and people of all sorts are gathering Saturday in the Old Montreal square to send their message to the rich and powerful in Montreal and Canada. Many have pitched tents and plan on staying for days.
"What we basically want to allow is for the financial sector to act like a financial sector, as opposed to acting like a giant casino that only benefits very few," said Maxwell Ramstead, an Occupy Montreal activist, ahead of the protest Friday.
Calling themselves the 99%, protesters say something must change given high unemployment levels, the lack of a social safety net, and multi-millionaires paying a lower percentage of income taxes than people earning just thousands of dollars a year.
"We're going to have more than 1,000 cities participating," said Nikolaos Gryspolakis, one of the people spearheading the Montreal movement, though he stressed that this is a movement without a leader.
"There is no you, it's us. It's a collective," he said.
Activists said they are attending to send a message to government and big business.
"We're no longer satisfied with standard avenues for political charge and we're very, very dissatisfied with the status quo," said activist Laura Boyd on Friday, ahead of the demonstration.
As for what the movement will achieve, that is to be decided, said Gryspolakis.
"Millions of people getting together, realizing there are important problems and we are getting together to find solutions. That's the point of the whole movement," he said.