As the Occupy Montreal demonstration nears the end of its first week, the burgeoning alternative community in Square Victoria is becoming increasingly organized.
Numerous committees have been formed by General Assemblies (GAs) held daily on-site. One such committee, the Economic Education Committee, was proposed by Montreal politician Jean-Patrick Berthiaume during Tuesday’s GA.
Berthiaume said the committee’s first purpose will be to accommodate speakers visiting the occupation from the nearby Forum International de l’Économie Sociale et Solidaire (FIESS) conference.
“I must, with my committee, make them comfortable, have something if it’s raining or everything, and be there to say, ‘Hi, I’m the link between you and us,’” said Berthiaume.
FIESS was held at the Palais des congrès from October 17 to 20. The conference hosted speakers from around the world to promote, develop, and discuss social and solidarity economics.
Speakers from the conference visited the occupation and spoke with occupiers on Wednesday and Thursday. Berthiaume said that, after the speakers had left, the committee would start to look for solutions to their issues with the existing economic system.
“After that the committee will also become permanent to enhance all the resources that we could check to know which kind of way we could change our world,” he said.
One of the central concerns held amongst the occupiers is of the growing financial inequality in society, while a common criticism thrown back at the occupiers is their lack of clear goals or solutions to address these issues. According to Berthiaume, the committee addresses both these criticisms.
“There’s a goal,” he said. “The goal is that we want a new world, we want to change things, and we must try it. That’s what we’re doing. Each person that talks to me about this – ‘Oh, what are we doing?’ Well, the first thing I see is the greatest laboratory of democracy that I can imagine. We’re trying it; we’re making it happen…because if we want to propose to all the others a new solution we must show them that it’s possible. So that’s the main thing,” he continued.
Furthermore, Berthiaume said the committee’s proposals would be targeted at the occupation community only, not society as a whole.
“I’m not here to tell the government what to do. I’m here to see what we will do without the government, without the one per cent. Are we able to do something? Are we capable of living together? That’s the main thing that I’m looking at, not really to know which kind of message that will be brought to them,” he explained.
The committee meets every afternoon and submits proposals for GAs. The proposals themselves are then submitted to a GA procedural committee.
Berthiaume said he would respect the GA’s decision regarding any proposals that came out of the committee.