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ALMOST FOUR WEEKS ago, Americans took to the streets of New York City in protest. The Occupy Wall Street movement has seen tens of thousands of people—of all ages, races, and political stripes—participate in an ongoing demonstration in response to the political and economic conditions of the country. Th e most common complaints among the protestors have been social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of big business on government.

Over 70 cities around the world have organized similar protests. In Canada, Occupy movements are scheduled to begin on Oct. 15 in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa. Occupy Ottawa’s Facebook group states, “This group aims to force a reconsideration of our current economic and political systems, and offers hope to those who previously felt alone in their belief that the current system is broken and that the time for systemic change is now.”

Like many of the other movements, Occupy Ottawa has not yet released an official list of demands. Although Canada was largely unharmed by the global financial crisis, and the issues associated with income inequality are less prevalent here than south of the border, there are issues that students, Ottawans, and Canadians alike should be concerned with—and so we present our editorial board’s list of demands for the upcoming protest.

Sustainable transportation

The way we get from one place to another effects our environment, yet alternative modes of transportation are not well supported at all levels of government. In Ottawa, we pay the highest per-trip bus fares out of all major Canadian cities—even when these services have been substantially cut in recent months. Although the Laurier Avenue bike lane was a step in the right direction, Ottawa could be doing more for those who want to walk, cycle, or bus. We demand to live in a city that actively supports the use of alternative modes of transportation.

Post-secondary education reform

We live in a country that stresses the importance of post-secondary education in producing a highly educated, skilled, and productive workforce as the driving force of our modern economy. That said, we also have an education system plagued by high costs, diluted services, and degrees that hold no promise of job security after graduation. We demand post-secondary education that is affordable, accessible, and worth the money we invest. We demand degrees that teach us the skills we need to get a job after graduation—without requiring another degree or two.

Action on the environment 

Canada has one of the worst records among developed countries when it comes to environmental protection, ranking low in its ability to tackle pollution and climate change and high when it comes to waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Just last week, an audit of the federal government’s environmental policy said our approach to climate change was “disjointed, confused, and non-transparent.” We demand a government that is committed to creating effective, innovative, and long-lasting solutions to the environmental concerns aff ecting current and future generations of Canadians.

Electoral reform

Our fi rst-past-the-post electoral system has to go. Elections are the most basic expression of citizens’ political beliefs, yet our electoral system under-represents certain segments of the population, systematically discriminates against small parties, and—more oft en than not—half the ballots cast go toward electing no one. We demand an electoral system that is more proportional, fair to minority parties, and representative of all groups in society.


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