Vancouver The board of ACORN Canada hunkered down at the Arundel Hotel next to the office to review both plans for the coming year and assess where the organization stood right now on a number of fronts. Lengthy discussion also centered on ACORN Canada’s leadership role in Community Organizations International and what it took to advance the first global campaign around the financial injustices involved in remittances. At the end of the meeting we received the news from Toronto ACORN leader Elise Aymer that Scotiabank, the target of the action in that city, had been the first of the targets to provide a formal, albeit inadequate, response to our demands.
The board marched through a ton of business dealing with the annual paperwork required of the Canadian government but also cleaning the balance sheet based on the finalization of the agreements with ACORN in the States on a number of outstanding issues and expressing hope for the health and future of friends among the leadership and membership of the organization. Most interesting was also some deep discussion on plans for future expansion and whether or not they lay most appealingly in Montreal or in the burgeoning western cities in Alberta that are still booming even in a difficult economy. Lots of discussion on staff and leadership discussion, campaign development, and an array of subjects that found us surprised at how quickly the time was moving over the four hour meeting.
The board, recognizing the importance of its position as the largest affiliate in the emerging federation advancing Community Organizations International (formerly Acorn International) named Kay Bisnath of the ACORN Canada board as the coming representative to the international board and likely new president of the body over the coming two years in order to increase the integration of the work and internationally and in Canada. Appropriately after much discussion and debate on future strategy and tactics in the Just Remittances Campaign, at the end of the meeting we received the information that the first “formal” response had been received by the target of the Toronto ACORN actions, Scotiabank.
Their response is still being analyzed and reviewed but not surprisingly was a long response that tried to deflect the demands by hoping to shift our attention to other programs involving immigrants in Canada rather than the costs that were the heart of our demand. Importantly Scotiabank is a major player in the Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic, has expanded importantly in Peru in recent years, and has a profile in India and other Community Organizations International countries. This will deepen the organizations resolve to get responses from the other targets, but also puts the first blood in the water and accelerates the campaign to a new level.