I wanted the People’s Assembly (Occupy Victoria) to prove me wrong. I wanted the participants to show they cared more about action and change than arguing for the right to pitch a tent on taxpayer property while Victoria’s already struggling 99 per cent pick up the bills.
I wanted the youth — intelligent and passionate, but seemingly easily distracted — to show they could rally and focus to make one small crack in the establishment. Instead, I have my doubts that many of them even bothered to vacate the sofa on the weekend to have their voice heard and cast a vote in the municipal election.
By not taking five minutes of their time to make a black mark on a paper ballot, they allowed one of their biggest supporters to lose his seat on Victoria council.
This isn’t a slam against any of the newly elected councillors as I’m sure they’ll do a fine job, but of all the candidates running, Philippe Lucas was the most vocal supporter and champion of the protestors’ right to have their message heard. And when the taxpayers lost focus on the message and instead saw only a shabby campsite, Lucas was the one who stepped forward as a voice of reason on the power of knowing when to leave. Kudos also go to John Turner who organized housing for the work-capable members of the occupation. Unfortunately, Turner was also defeated. And although Rose Henry didn’t make any specific promises to our younger generation, her election would have sent an interesting message on how we view homelessness. And for a group that changed its Occupy name in deference to our Island’s original occupants, it would have also been symbolic to seat the first aboriginal person on council.
It reminds me of the British saying: “All mouth, no trousers,” which basically means someone who loves to complain but doesn’t have the balls to act. The percentage of eligible voters who actually make their mark in our city is so pathetically low that any organized group could send a message straight to the heart of city hall. In Victoria, 73 per cent of voters stayed home; in Saanich, it was closer to 75 per cent; and in Esquimalt, 82 per cent decided they didn’t care. That level of apathy makes it easy to shanghai the final results.
But maybe I have it all wrong. Perhaps the youth of today don’t really want change, they just want to go camping and complain. After all, when I look around, I kinda wish I had had it so easy. M
Song Stuck in My Head
“Hurt” by Johnny Cash.
This is one of those hurtin’ songs that from the first time I heard it, I’ve never been able to forget it. From his album American IV, Cash brings such a level of despair to the original Nine Inch Nails song that you can’t help but feel a human connection. Despite its cutting lyrics, it also holds a message of hope.