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Canadian corporation tries to shut down Occupy Wall Street [Updated]

Update: Overnight, nearly 8,000 Leadnow members sent messages to Brookfield Asset Management's executives demanding they respect the democratic rights of protesters. This morning, faced with a massive global outcry and thousands of protesters ready to non-violently resist eviction (including Tria Donaldson), Brookfield Asset Management and Mayor Bloomberg backed down!

This is a big step in the right direction, but it's not over yet. Brookfield has only stated that it will delay eviction. We need them to honour that committment which is why Leadnow is asking Canadians to send messages to Brookfield Asset Management's executives, asking them to publicly state that it supports the right of the protesters to: 

  1. Continue occupying Zuccotti Park without interference. 
  2. Supply themselves with the minimum requirements for safety and sanitation: such as toilets, showers, tents, warm bedding and other necessities that they decide they require. 

Take action here: http://leadnow.ca/stop-occupy-wall-street-eviction


Occupy Wall Street keeps gaining momentum, with occupation actions starting up in cities across the world. While Canadians on this side of the border prepare for Saturdays Occupy Canada actions, it has just been revealed that a Canadian company is trying to shut down the birthplace of the movement: Zuccotti Park.

Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD notified Occupy Wall Street participants about plans to "clean the park" -- the site of the occupation -- Friday starting at 7 a.m.

According to NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly:

"People will have to remove all their belongings and leave the park...After it's cleaned, they'll be able to come back. But they won't be able to bring back the gear, the  sleeping bags, that sort of thing." In short: "cleaning" is a thin cover for eviction.

The attempted eviction comes hours before a global day of solidarity actions. The movement is taking the world by storm with a message that resonates powerfully with the millions of regular people: growing economic inequality is corrupting our democracies and making most people's lives worse.

So, who is doing the evicting? Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian company, owns Zuccotti Park and the adjacent office building, One Liberty Plaza. The company has an agreement with the city that the park will be open to public use.

Brookfield, formerly Brascan Limited, is one of the largest companies in Canada, a global asset manager with a wide range of interests. The company has over $120 billion in assets. Brookfield is headquartered in Toronto and New York City; the parent company is publicly traded on the NYSE and Toronto Stock Exchange. It was founded in 1899 as the São Paulo Railway, Light and Power Company.

To clear the protesters, Mayor Bloomberg needs Brookfield Asset Management to formally declare them trespassers. And Brookfield now wants to evict the participants to "clean" the park. "Cleaning" has been repeatedly as a pretense to shut down peaceful occupations. It was used to evict protesters from the Wisconsin state house. It was used by Bloomberg himself to shut down a peaceable demonstration against budget cuts. The eviction is supposed to begin at 7 a.m. on Friday morning, but the Occupy Wall Street protesters are planning a massive non-violent eviction resistance.

Let's face obvious facts, "cleaning" the park really isn't about sanitation. Occupy Wall Street's sanitation teams have repeatedly welcomed help from the city to keep the park clean, and have repeatedly been refused. The city has responded to the occupation by turning off power and blocking all attempts for PortaPoties and dumpsters near the Occupation site. If Mayor Bloomberg was really interested in sanitation, he would have worked with the folks in Zuccotti Park to ensure it remained clean.

So why would a Canadian company want to shut down the beating heart of a new global movement? Why would it try to disrupt a movement that is asking powerful questions about how the richest 1 per cent has managed to soak up almost all the new wealth created in the last 30 years?

Brookfield is at the top of the 1 per cent. They are connected to the biggest players on Wall Street -- the people who feel most threatened by Occupy Wall Street. Brookfield's buildings are literally filled with the offices of the 1 per cent. According to a Canadian Business article, at its peak, the represented a third of the Toronto Stock Exchange's value and owned parts of more than 200 companies, including Labatt Ltd., MacMillan Bloedel, Royal LePage and Royal Trust, all connected through a web of holding companies.

The board of Brookfield Asset Management paints a picture of how the the very top of the 1 per cent are networked together. The total assets of all board members is close to $10 billion. You can find details about all of their interests at the bottom of this post.

Occupy Wall Street is about challenging the power of the richest 1 per cent, and now that same 1 per cent is trying to shut down a global movement. It's time for Canadians to show our American friends that we've got their back.

Leadnow.ca, a people-powered campaigning organization, has asked Canadians to tell Brookfield's executives to respect the democratic rights of the Occupy Wall Street participants and stop trying to evict them. Within two hours of launching the campaign, over 3,000 Canadians had already sent messages.

You can join them at: http://www.leadnow.ca/stop-occupy-wall-street-eviction

Brookfield Asset Management's CEO

J Bruce Flatt has been Senior Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer of BAM since 2002. He is the Chairman of the board of General Growth Properties (GGP). He formerly served on the boards of Fraser Papers Inc. (2002 - 2006) and Norbord Inc. (2002 - 2006).

Brookfield Asset Management's Board of Directors:

The Chair of the board, Frank J McKenna is the former premier New Brusnwick. He has been Chairman of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. since 2010. Hon. McKenna's sorted corporate history has included board positions with CanWest Global Communications Corp., Major Drilling Group International Inc., TD Bank Financial Group, Acier Leroux, Inc. (formerly Leroux Steel Inc.), Barrett Corporation and UPS. He has been a Director of Canadian Natural Resources Limited since 2006 and serves as a Member of the AMEC Americas Advisory Board. He serves as a Director of CD Howe Institute and has served on the boards of General Motors of Canada Limited, Shoppers Drug Mart Corp., CanWest Global Communications Corp., Xstrata Canada Corporation (formerly Falconbridge Limited, Noranda Inc.), FNX Mining Company Inc.,. He is now Deputy Chair of TD Bank Financial. 

David Kerr is Managing Partner, Edper Financial Group, an investment holding company. He is a director of Halmont Properties Corporation, Research In Motion Limited, Sun Life Financial Inc. and Sustainable Development Technology Canada. He was the former director of Noranda (now Xstrata Canada Corporation), a natural resources company with operations in 18 countries, involved in the exploration, mining, processing, and marketing of metal and mineral products, and a director with CanWest Global Communications Corp. 

As Chairman of the Board of Directors, Robert J. Harding is also director and Chairman of international forest products company Norbord Inc. and director of Manulife Financial Corporation. He also formerly worked with Fraser Papers Inc. (2004 - 2009) and Western Forest Products Inc. (2006 - 2009).

Yousef Nasr is a former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Middle East Ltd., formerly President of HSBC Bank Brazil, President and Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Strategic Investments Inc., HSBC USA Inc., HSBC Bank USA and HSBC Bank Canada.

Jimmy Pattison is chief executive officer, chairman and sole owner of the Jim Pattison Group, the third largest privately held company in Canada. With an estimated net worth of around $US 5.8 billion (as of March 2011), he has been ranked the 3rd wealthiest person in Canada by Forbes. He is a director of the Canadian forest products giant Canfor, and is a trustee of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation

Jack L. Cockwell is the former CEO of Brookfield Asset Management CEO, and represents Brookfield as a director on the Board of Brookfield Properties Corporation and other subsidiaries. He is on the board at Norbord Inc., and was formerly on the board of Fraser Paper Inc. He is a director of media corporation Astral, as well as a director for Teck Resources. Teck Resources Limited is a major player in Alberta's tar sands that has been repeatedly criticized and sued for violating environmental laws and standards including in both 2003 and 2008 for heavily contaminating the Columbia River, and causing a lead spill.  The company's Red Dog mine operation in north-western Alaska was ranked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as one of the most polluting facilities in the United States.

Phillip Lind is Executive Vice President, Regulatory and Vice Chairman of Rogers Communications Inc (RCI). 

Dr. Jack Mintz is the Director of Palmer Chair in PUblic Polic University of Calgary. He is a director of Imperial Oil Limited and Morneau Shepell Inc. He is also the past President and CEO of the C.D. Howe Institute a think tank funded mainly by large corporations that generally advocates market-oriented economic policies such as tax cuts. He has been published with the Fraser Institute

Marcel J. Coutu is the President of Canadian Oil Sands, Chairman of the board of Syncrude and is a Governor with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). Coutu was formerly the Senior Vice President International and Vice President Finance for TransCanada Pipelines, the company hoping to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. 

Trevor Eyton is a retired Senator who serves on the boards of numerous corporations including Coca-Cola Enterprises, General Motors of Canada, Noranda, Nestle Canada and Coretec. In 2007, he earned over $120,000 as a director for Coca-Cola Enerprises Inc, and in 2010 earned over $130,000 as a director for Brookfield. 

James K. Gray is involved in Canadian oil and natural gas and founded one of Canada's largest natural gas producers, Canadian Hunter Exploration. Mr. Gray is a member of the Board of Directors of Atlanta Gold Inc., Phoenix Technology Income Fund and Resin Systems Inc (RS). He is also Director Emeritus of Canadian National Railway and non-executive Chairman of Temple Energy Inc., a private Calgary oil and gas exploration company. He formerly served as director with Nova Scotia Power, Cequence Energy, PHX Energy Serices Corp., and Emera Corp. Mr. Gray most recently became a member of the Alberta Premier's Council for Economic Strategy. He is an honourary chair of the Canada West Foundation.

Maureen Kempston Darkes is connected the retired Group Vice President and President Latin America, Africa and Middle East for General Motors Corporation. She is a board member with Canadian National Railway Company. She was appointed to the board of Enbridge in November 2010, and sits on the board of Irving Oil.

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