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Occupy Vancouver meeting mulls details of upcoming rally

Members of the Occupy Vancouver movement met in downtown Vancouver this evening to discuss details of the planned demonstrations beginning tomorrow morning in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

The meeting of the General Assembly Committee, which was held at a Waves Coffee House at the corner of Smithe and Howe, attracted over 40 participants.

The intention of the meeting was to reach consensus on how Occupy Vancouver General Assemblies will be conducted.

"We are here to plan the process of how the G.A. will work," explained one committee member, who asked that his name not be used.

As reported here, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have so far reached all collective decisions relating to policy and logistics through a consensus-based General Assembly body.

Tomorrow's "global day of action" will see anti-corporate demonstrations erupt across Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The General Assembly seems to be the decision-making model embraced by most "Occupy Together" protests.

The distinction between tonight's committee meeting and the General Assembly proper was not fully understood by all those in attendance. Included among this group were a number of television reporters who were prevented from entering the back-room of the coffee shop in which the private meeting was being held.

Despite being blocked from covering the event, the reporters were reassured by participants of the committee that General Assemblies are open to the public by definition and were invited to attend the first at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

No one in attendance agreed to speak on behalf of either the movement or the committee.

According to the Occupy Vancouver website, there are at least 26 committees.

Questions discussed at the meeting included how agreement will be reached at the G.A.s, whether 100 per cent consensus was required for proposals to be accepted, and how G.A. members will vote upon each proposal.

As the meeting proceeded slowly and deliberately into the late evening, there were brief moments of conflict. At one point early on, the discussion grew heated as a member of the Police Interaction Committee objected to her group's lack of decision making-power relative to the General Assembly.

The disagreement lasted for ten minutes.

"How do we avoid hours of that?" a young woman asked after the argument had been resolved -- a question which set the tenor of the rest of the meeting.

The crowd that gathered at Waves tonight appeared disproportionately young -- though not exclusively so. While many came as the representatives of other Occupy Vancouver committees, non-profit organizations, and labour unions, the majority of those at the meeting professed no affiliation with any group.

One woman, who identified herself as a Tunisian immigration, explained that she wanted to participate in this protest movement because she was unable to join that which took place in her home-country.

According to a representative of the Policy Committee, General Assemblies will likely be held multiple times each day throughout the duration of the Occupy Vancouver demonstrations.

At 10 p.m., the Waves Coffee Shop closed for the evening. By that time, consensus was not yet reached as to whether a second meeting would be held tomorrow morning.

"This is part of the process," sighed one committee member as the group gathered their belongings. "But it's fun. It's exciting."

The first Occupy Vancouver General Assembly will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Ben Christopher reports for The Tyee

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