Bay Street in Toronto looks more or less abandoned on a Saturday. Aside from the odd first year associate heading to a quiet law office to put in keener time, or a Swedish tourist drifting toward Yonge Street seeking the Hockey Hall of Fame, it's mostly empty. Not next Saturday though. That's when the Occupy Wall Street protestors bring their noise to the heart of Canada's financial district.
The protests in New York grew out of an exhortation in the Vancouver-based publication Adbusters. Back in July the anti-consumer periodical called for a protest where "20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades, and occupy Wall Street for a few months." By the time the protestors arrive in Toronto, the first of those months will nearly be over.
New York City has a long history of public dissent. But increasingly, the sheer cost of setting up shop in New York, whether you're a struggling artist or a major retailer, has made it increasingly difficult to maintain a profile in the city.
The last significant public protest in New York would've been the pre Iraq war demonstration in February 2003. If the aim of the 100,000 people in Manhattan's streets that day was to stop the invasion, it was a failure. Now, world media is evaluating another public demonstration from the left
The Occupy Wall Street protests are being praised and slammed in equal measure.
Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader-
"I for one am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities across the country. Believe it or not, some in this town have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans"
Kevin O'Leary, Commentator and Investor-
"It looks pretty nothingburger so far just a few guys, guitars. Nobody knows what they want. Can't even name the names of the firms that they're protesting against. Very weak. Low Budget. "
Jonathan Chait, columnist-
"The protests, for all this incoherence, restore Wall Street to a central place in the economic narrative. Here is the financial industry, not just as recipient of taxpayer funds but as originator and aggravator of the crisis. The protests may not have an agenda, but they do not need an agenda other than to return political focus onto Wall Street."
Matt Taibbi, writer and journalist-
"What this could do is provide the political support for those activists who are trying to change specific things about how Wall Street operates. Obviously this isn't a crowd that understands for instance how the derivatives market works but there's enough anger out there that people who trying to change derivatives market could point and say look: there are protests out there. We need to do something because the public won't take it anymore."
When the demonstrators come to Toronto there will be cheers and jeers in equal measure. They will also be marching in the shadow of the last major protest that snaked through the downtown, the G20 demonstrations of 2010, a paroxysm of arrests and detentions that wrecked the credibility of police and security
This week on Day 6, a Toronto financier has a question for the demonstrators: How can the Canadian financial establishment be judged culpable for Canada's recession to the degree the American demonstrators blame Wall Street? Why make Bay Street the target?
Wall Street activists appear determined to continue their open-ended protest, indefinitely. Will the same tolerance of dissent be extended to their Canadian counterparts? Will this last longer than a weekend, or will it all play out on a sleepy October Saturday in Toronto?
Also this week:
-We talk to the person Steve Jobs turned to when he wanted Apple to build a better computer mouse.
-A conversation with the inventor of the Flash Mob.
-Mexico considers temporary marriages.
-Tryptophan reminds us of its virtues
-Provincial elections round-up.
-We Deep Six the dining room.
That's right. Just as you're getting ready to gather round the dining room table we're knocking down the walls. As always, you can keep the traditional dining room alive by voting right here.
Either way have a fine long weekend. We'll see you again next week on Day 6.
Brent Bambury @CBCDay6