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Occupy protesters march on Parliament Hill

Members of the Occupy movement marched on Parliament Hill on Monday as the fall session of the House of Commons began.

The group, including members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), began their march from Confederation Park to Parliament around 1:30 p.m.

Several signs called for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s resignation while PSAC members said they were specifically protesting the federal government’s staff cuts.

PSAC, which has 172,000 members, is Canada’s largest union of public employees.  

The Conservatives unveiled the second phase of their budget plan on Monday, including measures that were outlined in the spring budget but didn’t make it into Bill C-38, the controversial budget implementation bill that was passed in June.

The second phase is aimed at further slashing government spending and changing pension plans for MPs and federal workers.

Members of Occupy Ottawa were joined by Occupy Toronto members and other Occupy protesters who have been walking across the country from Victoria since May 1 to express their discontent with the Harper government.

“It was important for us to do something dramatic, given the dreadful policies that are passed on a regular basis. If Harper thought we hadn’t noticed the Omnibus Budget Bill and the other bills he has quietly passed, we’ll be there to let him know that we did and that we won’t stand for it,”  the protesters from Victoria said in a statement.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan described the planned bill “cornerstone legislation” of a fall sitting focused on job creation and economic growth.

The Opposition is trying to set its own agenda, centred largely around helping people who’ve lost their jobs and consumers who feel they’re being gouged at the gas pumps and by big corporations.

New Democrat consumer protection critic Glenn Thibeault says his party will continue its push for a gasoline ombudsman who can field consumer complaints about high fuel prices.

Harper set the stage last week for continued cuts in government spending when he announced a parliamentary committee tasked with finding deeper cuts to the public purse.

The committee is being headed by tight-fisted Treasury Board President Tony Clement.

The Conservatives appear to be riding high as they enter a new phase of their majority mandate.

A Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll conducted within the two weeks prior to the fall sitting suggests the Tories have opened up a seven-point lead over the NDP.

The survey puts Conservative support at 34 per cent, the NDP at 27, the Liberals at 24 and the Green party at seven.

Two-thousand Canadians were questioned for the poll, which is considered accurate within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

Monday’s protest was held on the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Demonstrators first began camping out in New York City’s Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, 2011.

Marches, rallies and sit-ins were held around the world to commemorate the protest.  

With files from The Canadian Press