The Occupy movement has created a focused public debate on economic and political institutions and provided “a new and powerful critique” of them, says Bishop Dennis Drainville of the diocese of Quebec.
Invited to speak at various events Sept. 28-30 sponsored by Occupy Nova Scotia and churches in Halifax, Drainville noted that the anti-capitalist movement that spread around the world in 2011 has brought new awareness to the notion that ‘They are the 1 per cent and we are the 99 per cent,’ ” Drainville told those attending his lecture at the Atlantic School of Theology. “This formula underlines the structural inequalities of our political and economic system and highlights the collusion between the corporate and political elites,” he said.
Drainville also joined a rally in support of the local Occupy movement, whose members were evicted last November from Grand Parade, Halifax’ public square.
The Occupy movement has increased awareness that “every decision that we make publicly has to be seen through the lens of the common good,” said Drainville in an interview. When there are increasing numbers of people who are poor, unemployed or underemployed, and homeless, “that makes a statement about the kind of policies and government that we have,” he said.
“Jesus very clearly gave us a commission to go out into the world to speak about God’s reconciling love and to respond to the needs of people,” Drainville told the Journal.
Drainville met with more than 50 social work students at the University of King’s College and discussed the challenges of helping the poor and marginalized sectors in Canada. In the course of their internships with NGOs, the students have seen firsthand the struggles of the poor and “they’re seeing governments retreating in terms of support for programs and agencies,” he said.
Every year, statistics show that the gulf between the rich and poor is widening, noted Drainville. He urged Canadians to participate in activities designed to address social justice issues.