Around 200 Occupy demonstrators – with a heavy union presence – marched to Parliament Hill Monday, marking the movement’s one-year anniversary on the same day the House of Commons resumed sitting.
Most demonstrators were bused in from Toronto, gathering at Confederation Park then making their way to the Hill shortly after 1:20 p.m.
“What do we want? Democracy. When do we want it? Now,” they chanted.
Local organizers and Occupy regulars seemed to be absent.
But union flags were everywhere.
Public Service Alliance of Canada regional executive vice-president Larry Rousseau said they were bringing a message to Members of Parliament.
“The austerity budget is a budget that is going to lead this country on the wrong track. We cannot have ideology trump governance,” said Rousseau.
PSAC made Stop Harper T-shirts with a stop sign motif, and people were handing out signs reading “We are all affected.”
“We’ve been saying it for years, but the Occupy movements around the world seem to capture the imagination of the public, not just here in Canada but right across the world,” said Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan.
Members from the Canadian Auto Workers and Canadian Labour Congress were visible.
As tourists snapped photos, Occupiers rallied, stopping on the steps of the Hill.
“I’m here because I want to help demonstrate that the Harper government is pushing through an agenda that I think is destructive to Canada, it’s destructive to our international reputation, it’s destructive to the environment,” said Mike Jan.
Peace activist Terry Stavnyck said he used to work for the feds.
“Many public servants are afraid to be seen in groups like this, for fear of retribution,” said Stavnyck.
“I mean, they’re axing so many jobs and nobody knows what exactly is the criteria? How exactly are those decisions made? They’re not sharing that information with the union.”
Several speakers took to the steps, including a performance by Toronto rapper Testament.
Later on, demonstrators tried to plant food in the Occupy Gardens for “World Peas” on the Hill’s lawn, drawing attention to world food shortages.
A man and woman -with hot pink hair – from Victoria, BC, started walking to Ottawa on May 1.
Occupy Wall Street began in NYC one year ago, rallying against the gap between what it considers the rich 1% and everyone else. Ottawa police and RCMP officers were on hand, however, no incidents were reported.