Occupy Vancouver Demands Released

♫ You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world …♫

Lyrics and music by Lennon/McCartney, recorded by The Beatles.

Occupy Vancouver Protest

Occupy Vancouver Protest (Vancouver Province Photo)

CTV.ca has released the complete text of the demands of the Occupy Vancouver protestors. A number of their demands are in the legal area, so I thought I would highlight a few of them from their total list of 60:

12. We demand that corporate person-hood is repealed.

I am not quite sure what they mean…the elimination of corporations as legal entities?

27. We demand – as Bertrand Russell suggested – there be two police forces – one to prove your guilt and another to prove your innocence. We demand lawyers be required to work in pairs so that a lack of resources won’t be a factor in deciding a case. (Alternative: We demand increased funding for legal aid.)

Interesting thought about lawyers working in pairs…but exactly how do we pay for the inevitable doubling of costs? Just, speedy and inexpensive seems to run contrary to this…not to mention the cost of carrying two police forces. But I do agree with them about increasing funding for Legal Aid!

32. We demand the repeal of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. All synthetic drugs and hard drugs (including cocaine and heroin) must be distributed by prescription through a pharmacist.

I can just imagine the implications of repealing the CD&S Act!

34. We demand that all harmless people be protected in the constitution. If a new law is written and a new set of people are to be criminalized, the burden of proof will now be on the government to provide evidence that this new group of criminals is inherently harmful to others. This will end scapegoating.

I thought the purpose of the constitution was to protect people – including harmless ones.

41. We demand the release of all non-violent prisoners.

Does that mean there would be no penal consequences for committing serious, but non-violent crimes?

and just one more:

53. We demand the removal of all the red tape around the growing of industrial hemp.

We all want to change the world; I guess some of us differ on our choice of methods. At least they didn’t follow Shakespeare’s advice and say the first thing to do, is let’s kill all the lawyers


  1. “We demand that the science minister be replaced with an MP who recognizes the realities of evolution ….”

    they left out the important demands

    1. Hamilton, Regina, Halifax, Moncton and St.John’s be immediately awarded NHL franchises and guaranteed positions in the NHL playoffs.

    2. The [insert name of Canadian team] be awarded the Stanley Cup every 2nd year, if one of these teams didn’t actually win the Cup.

    3. The Stanley Cup playoffs end by Apr 30.

    4. Yogic flying be a mandatory course in all public schools

    5. Repeal of the law of gravity.

    6. The beatification of Doug Henning who will be installed as Canada’s permanent “head” of state.

    6. “Don’t Bogart That Joint” (by the Fraternity of Man, of course) replace “Oh Canada” as the national anthem.

  2. @David Cheifetz: LOL!

  3. David,

    I have not read the list of Vancouver demands but your choice of #12 as your lead example would easily be my number one choice to talk about as well.

    Concurrent with the protests I have registered what is my second incorporated company. The first company was more of a “one-off” single contract affair for a project I was a part of. The new company is the evolution of my personal enterprise that is finally taking off.

    I think about the relationship between people and corporations a lot. Although I have nothing against the small entrepreneur, I can certainly understand why many people have issues to resolve with “big business” and I think some of those concerns are legitimate.

    I joke about the incorporation process as “creating a zombie entity that cannot die.” As far as I understand it, that statement is completely accurate. When that non-living person is responsible for your income it is hard not to love it (at least as the president of a company I can say this, I’m certainly not speaking for all workers).

    Last week I put the final signatures on my incorporation documents (well, GST/HST to be more specific) and accepted my first cheques from clients. The zombie-person finally has a pulse! I can now pay my colleagues for the hard work they have done and it feels good.

    Whether incorporation should stay as-is or lose it’s person-hood status is not for me to decide. The message of the protesters is clear though: corporations are zombie-persons that cannot die. This is something we should think about as a society.

  4. Omnibus is a terrible thing, regardless of who’s doing it. Although I’m definitely behind the Occupy movement, my biggest reservation about it is that I end up supporting idiotic demands like repealing the Controlled Drugs and Substances act along with the sensible ones, like reforming the legal status of corporations.

  5. Alex:

    For the sake of greater clarification, what exactly is it about the legal status of corporations that you feel must be reformed?

  6. I suspect that the Occupy movement is borrowing heavily from the US. The US Supreme Court decided in the past year that a corporation has the same free speech rights as an individual, so campaign contribution limits did not apply. This has got a lot of people upset, not surprisingly. The Court spoke in terms of the corporation as a person. I doubt very much that the Occupy movement in either country has thought carefully through the details (wherein lies … of course) of any of their proposals, given the number that don’t withstand much review.

    This ‘program’ show me (a) why they have been reluctant to release one, and (b) that the Occupy movement is not going to change the world. Not smart enough, not focused enough. Anger alone, even righteous, even (in part) right, doesn’t get you very far.

  7. There is a consensus within the OWS worldwide movement that it is premature to issue “demands”. Some have speculated that salaried commentators expressing opinions against the OWS, because there are no objectives and as a result they find it almost impossible to figure out what the ruckus is all about, are either facetiously ignorant or congenital morons. With regard to the personhood of corporations, past writers like Blackstone, Maine and Adam Smith had interesting comments for those thinking this legal fiction is a “new” idea.

    “Such also is the prerogative of erecting corporations; whereby a number of private persons are united and knit together, and enjoy many liberties, powers, and immunities in their politic capacity, which they were utterly incapable of in their natural.” (Blackstone, 272)

    And a little further “But, as all personal rights die with the person; and, as the necessary forms of investing a series of individuals, one after another, with the same identical rights, would be very inconvenient, if not impracticable; it has been found necessary, when it is for the advantage of the public to have any particular rights kept on foot and continued, to constitute artificial persons, who maintain a perpetual succession, and enjoy a kind of legal immortality.
    These artificial persons are called bodies politic, bodies corporate, or corporations: of which there is a great variety of subsisting, for the advancement of religion, of learning, and of commerce; in order to preserve entire and for ever those rights and immunities, which, if they were granted only to those individuals of the body corporate is composed, would upon their death be utterly lost and extinct.” (Blackstone, 467)

    And finally Adam Smith on the issue of those controlling these corporate bodies:

    “The directors of such companies, however, being the managers of other people’s money rather than of their own, it cannot well be expected that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance, with the partners in a private co-partnery watch over their own. Like the stewards of a rich man, they are apt to consider attention to small matters as not for their master’s honour, and very easily give themselves dispensation from having it. Negligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail, more or less, in the management of the affairs of such a company.” (Smith, 491)


    Commentaries on the laws of England. Book the first. By William Blackstone, Esq. Vinerian Professor of Law, and Solicitor General to Her Majesty,. Dublin, MDCCLXIX. [1769]. 499 pp.

    Maine, Henry Sumner, Sir. Ancient law : its connection with the early history of society, and its relation to modern ideas : with an introduction by Theodore W. Dwight. 3rd American, from 5th London ed. New York, [1873], c1864. 468pp.

    An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations with a memoir of the life of the author, Smith, Adam.: Aberdeen, 1848. 643pp.

  8. The Vancouver demands suggest that its unlikely the leadership (?) of the Vancouver Occupy movement has ever heard of the Yippies. Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin would have had a field day.

  9. Rick:

    “Some have speculated that salaried commentators expressing opinions against the OWS, because there are no objectives and as a result they find it almost impossible to figure out what the ruckus is all about, are either facetiously ignorant or congenital morons.”

    My my….I have always heard that you should be hard on the problem and soft on the people.

    As for all the ruckus – “there is a consensus …that is is premature to issue ‘demands’ “… well …to those of us outside the OWS,, the ‘movement’ is starting to look like a collective temper tantrum without a purpose.

    Without any statement of what *exactly* the OWS sees as the issues …and entering into a constructive dialogue over those issues … the ‘movement’ is starting to look simply purposeless.

    One may go ahead and have a temper tantrum, but I respectfully suggest, not at someone else’s expense. If the ‘movement’ is a true exercise in civil disobedience, then you have to be prepared to embrace non-violence (Gandhi) and as well, suffer the consequences as a result of your civil disobedience. Furthermore, like Gandhi, you have to be prepared to state what it is that you are trying to change:

    (Wikipedia): “Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, increasing economic self-reliance, but above all for achieving Swaraj—the independence of India from foreign domination.”

    Since there doesn’t seem to be any purpose behind the OWS, I think there is a growing ‘consensus’ outside of the OWS that perhaps it is time that this ‘movement’ no longer be continued at the public expense.

    As for corporations, there is absolutely nothing stopping you – or anyone else – from acquiring shares and then raising issues as a shareholders meeting (in accordance with the bylaws and laws regarding shareholder rights) to raise and address issues that you see within that corporation. But then again, this would mean that you would have to say what exactly you want discussed, addressed and changed….

  10. The OWS may not have the education and sophistication as many of our readers or contributors here, but there is something symptomatic about our society that they are accurately objecting to.

    Personally I think the corporation status is a red herring, especially given the rejection of shareholder primacy here in Canada à la People’s and BCE. But it is a genuine academic question to ask whether these corporate vehicles, created by privilege of the state, should not also benefit the state. The changing role of corporate governance and effective regulation in an era of multi-nationals is also a realistic challenge.

    We may not agree with all or even most of OWS demands or sentiments. But I have also grown up in a generation of apathy, with considerable discontent and mistrust of our political system. Let’s also recognize that there is some disconnect in our society between our aspired goals and what we have been able to achieve, and these individuals just might be the impetus we need for further change.

  11. There is no centralized leadership that everyone at the occupy gatherings follow so it’s silly to assume that everyone involved agrees with all of these points.

  12. Its ironic how they want to release all non-violant criminals yet want to prosocute people in the financial industry. Only a bit contradictory.

  13. Re: demand 12: My understanding is that corporations have the same rights as humans where laws use certain terms like “everyone” as opposed to other terms that limit personhood to humans like “every individual”. Probably what the OVers are saying by demand 12 is that they want to eliminate all instances where corporations are treated in law as the same as non corporate individuals, which to me seems like a very good idea.

    There appears to be a fair bit of hostility against these protesters, but i’m at a loss to understand why. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that finally some members of our society have mustered the courage to speak out and stand against the injustices perpetrated by the ruling class? I mean, the bankers basically crashed the entire world economy, and that’s what caused all these protests, right? The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer, and we’re in a situation where our governments socialize risk and privatize gain. I think we should applaud those who speak out against this. Or, better yet, join them in the occupation.

    Also, it makes me happy whenever i see people expressing their (political) opinions because it reminds me of how lucky i am to live in a country where we have these rights. In some places you’d be killed for openly criticizing the government, in other places you’d be put in jail. I don’t want our country to become at all like one of those places. I think Canadians take too much for granted, including that our country is inherently democratic and will remain so even if we loose the right to unionize, even if the government can mandate wages for striking workers, and even if we can be kicked out of public spaces for protesting (expressing an opinion). The truth is that we are only democratic so long as we have basic rights and freedoms, such as the right to freely associate and the right to express ourselves in non harmful ways. Unfortunately, these days, it seems that a vast majority of us are willing to let go of our democratic rights, often in the name of security in a post 9/11 world. If you don’t hold on to that which is dear, you will loose it, so the saying goes, which may also be a lyric.

  14. LSFFP

    “Probably what the OVers are saying by demand 12 is that they want to eliminate all instances where corporations are treated in law as the same as non corporate individuals, which to me seems like a very good idea.”

    Why don’t you list what you believe those instances are?

    In passing, I’m sure the shareholders of many corporations would be happy to be told the corporation no longer had to pay taxes, and couldn’t be fined for breaking laws, or held liable for conduct which pollutes, or kills children, or …

  15. @David Cheifetz: I wouldn’t want a situation where “…the shareholders of many corporations would be happy to be told the corporation no longer had to pay taxes, and couldn’t be fined for breaking laws, or held liable for conduct which pollutes, or kills children, or …” If i gave that impression, I apologize for the misstep. I’m sure you’re not suggesting that corporate personhood is the only way to regulate corporations, though maybe you’re suggesting it’s the best way? You seem to know more about corporate personhood than me, so why don’t you think about all the instances where corporations are treated as persons, and pretend that they weren’t. That’s what i was talking about.

  16. When I saw the fellow looking out of the tent, I thought he was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, and then I realized it was his real face.

    There is no possible way there are going to have any of those demands met. Do they actually think that government and large corporations are going to capitulate to a bunch of people sitting in stinky, fetid tents in slummy encampments? Their demands are all over the map, and are a complete joke.

    Time for them to pack up and go home.

  17. LSFPP – you wrote a message are complaining about “corporate personhood”, whatever it is that that term means to you. All the instances I listed ARE instances where corporations are treated as persons, and are instances where corporations are regulated. If those aren’t intances that bother you, provide examples of what you say is wrong about whatever it is you believe “corporate personhood”.

    In passing, “corporate personhood” is another of those unusal phrases that have wafted up from down south. It appears that you’ve no idea of the context. This is an instance where Wikipedia might help you.

  18. No, I do know about the context, and i’ve read the Wikipedia page and many others on the subject for that matter. I just figured since we’re not really in the business of retaining Canadian terminology/… (didn’t we just replace our LLB’s with JD’s) we’re probably not in a place where we want to invent it either.

    Re: the examples you gave, I think that there probably are some positives to corporations being treated as people, but i think that the negatives outweigh the positives. Without getting too philosophical, i think many of the negatives come from the fact that corporations can’t be held accountable for their actions the same way human persons can. You can’t imprison a corporation, for example. There are other very important differences between human persons and corporations that signal the need to treat the two differently in law, the prime example being that corporations can only exist with a view to profit, while this isn’t so for people. Plus, I believe that there are other better ways to regulate corporations than to pretend they’re people. Plus, call me a purist, but to me a corporation isn’t a person anymore than a Gorilla is. Only a person is a person.

    In passing, regarding your allusion to ignorance or lack of knowledge as being a basis for dismissing arguments/opinions, i find this to be particularly problematic in the context of a debate on corporate personhood. I mean, if we ask who knows about corporations and corproate personhood, the answer will almost always be the highly educated and people who own corporations. Even though we appear to live in a corporatocracy, we don’t learn about citizenship under that state of organization as part of our public education. So, the problem is that when a bunch of fancy lawyers, who themselves likely own or have owned corporations and who have fancy educations, simply dismiss the views of others based on a supposed lack of knowledge, they’re not really being fair, are they? When i really think about it I tend to conclude that the people who know the most about corporations are the same people who are likely to support them and corporate personhood, perhaps because they have a vested interest in doing so. To me, this reflects the philosophical notion that there’s a distinction between knowledge and correctness. I mean really, if you think about it, just because you know a lot about a thing, doesn’t mean you’re right. In fact, you can know everything there is to know about a thing, and still arrive at a false conclusion, or at the very least an opinion that’s debatable.