you haven’t yet heard of Canada Uncut, you’re not
alone. A few Fridays ago I was logged onto Facebook, as is my custom these days
upon waking at two-year-old-o’clock. As my toddler trashed his breakfast, I
trawled through a typical IV drip of amusing YouTube videos, friends’ blog
entries, and meditations on what exactly might occur if certain friends were
denied their morning coffees. Then I noticed that someone had added me to the
group ‘Canada Uncut’.
my eyes, I clicked on the notification, intending to remove myself from the
group. I assumed that one of my friends added me so that I could
participate in yet another online mommy community debate.
group description quickly disabused me of that notion, though, and directed me
to “How to Build a Progressive Tea Party”, an
inspiring and highly readable account of the impressive rise of the UK Uncut anti-austerity
founding of UK Uncut followed British Finance Minister George Osborne’s
announcement of the deepest budgetary cuts to public services in more than
eight decades. While I had heard a little bit about protests sweeping the UK last fall, I knew little of the new and exciting type of activism that’s taken to the High Streets.
October 27, 2010, in London, approximately seventy people entered a mobile
phone shop Oxford Street, sat down, and effectively closed the doors of
tax-dodging billionaire Philip Green’s flagship
all intents and purposes, the group was nothing more than a Twitter hashtag (#ukuncut), invented the night before
by a group of young people who decided they were tired of talking about their
feelings of disenfranchisement at the hands of big business and government, and
resolved to take action.
dozens occupied the shop doorway, chanting and handing leaflets to passers-by,
that hashtag began to trend around the UK, and people began to talk about
replicating the action. National anger over the budget cuts helped take the
idea viral. People had found an accessible and worthy target for their
frustration. Within seventy-two hours, nearly thirty Vodafone outlets around
the country had been shut down.
in this country within hours of The Nation article
hitting the web, Canada Uncut aims to take action against the government’s
short sighted and unnecessary cuts to public services across the country. It is
anticipated that, even more drastically than in previous years, the funding
cuts in this year’s budget will not only harm our most vulnerable citizens, but
also increase financial stress and impact quality of life for the vast majority
intends to trim billions of dollars in spending
on government programs that touch virtually every aspect of Canadian life. From
scientific and medical research to women’s initiatives, from environmental
protection to athletic and arts programs, we can expect to see huge reductions
or total eliminations of federal funding in a manner more brutal than ever
while the government assures us that areas such as health care and education
will remain untouched, that is simply because at this point, there are few if
any cuts left to make.
Conservatives are pushing through a series of corporate tax breaks that will
bring our corporate tax rate---already the lowest in the G7---to a shocking 15 per cent by the end of 2013. Extending
such generosity towards these corporations---while at the same time showing no leniency towards the ordinary taxpayer---is
justified by the idea that tax cuts create jobs. Yet many experts argue that
the opposite is true.
companies profit not only from our ridiculously low tax rates, but from an
arcane and complex system that allows “creative
international tax planners” to funnel income to tax havens, and
ensure that any taxes that are collected are often returned in the form of
credit. The jobs created by tax cuts are not to be found here in Canada, and
unemployment figures continue to rise.
If we pay our taxes, why don’t corporations? If they profit here, shouldn't
they pay more than just a fraction of what the average Canadian citizen pays?
time has come to show our government---and the companies who have enriched their coffers by billions at the
expense of ordinary Canadians---that when they push us, we can and will push
back. Join Canada Uncut, and together, let's make corporate tax abusers pay.
Uncut is a horizontal movement. There are no leaders, no pecking order and no
centralized protests. Over the last few weeks, our discussions, tweets,
retweets, Skype calls and emails have led to some necessary delegation of the
workload, but it’s been 100 per cent voluntary.
try to conduct our communications democratically and diplomatically---we are,
after all, Canadian. So far our activities have been as loosely organized and
unpredictable as one might expect from a group of people who, until a few weeks
ago, had no connection whatsoever.
first action---a touching tribute
by the Billionaires of Halifax to the generous taxpayers who stepped
in to help them in their time of need---took place within days of our
inception. But I think it’s safe to say that the only thing we’re all looking
forward to in the forthcoming budget is the fact that we will soon know for
sure what we are up against in this latest round of cuts.
the budget is tabled, you should expect to hear a lot more from us. We’re
mobilizing as I write this, and we’d love it if you joined the fight. While
taking on a foe as formidable as the Canadian corporate tax system might seem
daunting, as a friend recently pointed out, “Once you get the numbers, that's
when it doesn't matter anymore.”
disclosure: that quote was lifted from an online thread about standing up to
zombies. I think it works just as well here.)
Facebook page has grown to
a respectable 400+ “Likes” in less than a fortnight, and our smaller “working
group” of members, committed to getting this movement off the ground in Canada,
comprises more than 140 individuals who have been reading, breathing, eating
and sleeping Uncut for the bulk of the last two weeks.
lucky to count amongst us not only activists with a wide array of experience
and opinions, but relative newcomers to protest movements whose only prior acts
of dissent may have been signing an online petition.
Britain and the US, Uncut participants span every age group, and are drawn from
nearly every segment of society, from teenagers to pensioners, and all stops in
same is true of Canada Uncut. We have high school graduates discussing the
finer points of arcane tax laws with doctors of philosophy. Labour union members
and Internet entrepreneurs are trading ideas about the relative merits of
ironic bake sales for the rich versus pirate musical numbers.
teachers and politicians are tweeting about flash raids. Conservatives and
radicals alike have weighed in on the content of our leaflets. This is not
about the value of any one particular ideology versus another.
Uncut is a non-partisan effort that seeks to dismantle a system of favouring
commerce over community---a system that has been far too entrenched in Canadian
tax policy to be blamed on any one political party. While we expect government
to take notice whenever we complain, this time we’re changing the venue.
our website, “Like” our Facebook page, follow us
on Twitter, and remember to visit UK Uncut or one of the many sister groups that
are forming in countries around the world. In the last few days Australia and Ireland have joined the growing
list of nations rallying for change.
US Uncut, launched
just days before of our own effort, already boasts close to 13,000 Facebook subscribers as of this
writing, and has pulled off over 50 successful actions in solidarity with
Wisconsin’s union protests. If you
want action in your town or city, you'll have to take it on yourself. But it is
possible. People in the UK and the US, people just like you and me, have proven
that it is possible to take on governments and corporations.
us. I’ll see you out there! (X)
Marshall is a writer, teacher, DJ, mother, and activist. She spends her days with a
toddler not far from Toronto, conspiring to save the world one mix tape at a