Some Proposed Occupy Demands
As elsewhere, the Occupy Toronto camp has not issued specific demands for reform. However, many other organizations did so. The following list of 15 was proposed by Democracy Watch.
Corporate Responsibility Measures
- Require corporations (including banks and other financial institutions) to send a pamphlet to individual shareholders and customers inviting them to join watchdog groups for each corporate sector (some US states have required utilities to do this);
- Require corporate directors to consider stakeholder interests (represented by workers, customers, communities, social justice and environmental groups) in making decisions, and to account publicly for the extent to which they do (including reducing waste and paying all the costs of recycling and cleaning up any waste or pollution that results from production);
- Require corporations to disclose their records of compliance with environmental, criminal, competition, human rights, labor, health and safety laws, and set up an on-line, searchable database so that the public has easy access to the information;
- Establish an effective system (including a fully independent, fully empowered watchdog agency) to protect “whistleblower” employees who disclose corporate wrongdoing publicly;
- Prohibit corporations that violate laws from receiving grants or contracts from any government for a specific time;
- Allow stakeholders to apply in court for the dissolution of a corporation that repeatedly violates laws.
Bank Accountability Measures
- Facilitate the creation of a Financial Consumer Organization (FCO) to help consumers, as the Task Force on the Future of the Canadian Financial Services Sector recommended in 1998 and as supported by 64% of Canadians. No bank takeover or merger should be allowed until the FCO is set up;
- Require banks to provide detailed information on loans, investments and services to customers. We need to track whether banks are meeting the needs of individuals and businesses and require corrective action if not;
- Prohibit service charge or credit card interest rate increases until the banks prove (by an audit conducted by the Auditor General) that they aren’t gouging us, and lower fees and interest rates if audit reveals gouging;
- Require banks to disclose the profit/loss record for a branch proposed to be closed, to allow review of the reasons;
- Empower the federal Competition Bureau, or the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to conduct an audit of how much money Canada’s banks have made from excessive service and credit card charges, and by closing branches and firing tellers, since 1992;
- Empower the federal Competition Bureau, or the federal Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, to examine the actual level of competition in financial services in each community across Canada, and issue a public report;
- Require the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Commissioner to audit financial institution compliance with laws at least every 3 years, and to disclose the name of the financial institutions that violate the law, and let consumers complain to the OBSI directly;
- Give customers access to the money they deposit by cheque as soon as the cheque clears;
- Increase the maximum penalty for violating the Bank Act to $50 million (currently, the maximum penalty is $200,000, an essentially meaningless penalty for Canada’s big banks, each of which make $15 billion in revenue each year).
Democracy Watch and its coalitions will continue pushing for these measures until federal and provincial politicians finally act in the public interest and make the changes.