New Orleans By late Tuesday night the last report was in from Vancouver putting a cap on actions across Canada in Hamilton, Toronto, and Ottawa in freezing and rainy weather as ACORN Canada (www.acorncanada.org) members stepped out to demand of federal authorities in Ottawa and provincial administrators in Ontario and British Columbia that the costs of remittances simply had to be regulated to put a stop to predatory pricing. The actions were widely covered on Global TV, Chinese and other language papers, the Metro Ottawa with a front page picture, and as far away as The Fast Forward Weekly in Calgary. Migrant and immigrant workers and families understand that this issue is huge, costly, and demands immediate resolution. (Details in the reports posted at www.acorninternational.org entitled Past Time for Remittance Justice and the supplemental report, Looking the Other Way: The Absence of Remittance Regulation)
Importantly in Vancouver there was a commitment from the chief staff person in the Finance Ministry to meet directly with ACORN Canada leaders to see what needed to be done to vet the issue and move forward. With a new Premier taking office this week, members are crossing their fingers that they might actually be heard on this huge issue dealing with money transfer organizations like Western Union, MoneyGram, and others.
Members in Toronto were literally locked out in the cold by police at the behest of the provincial government in Ontario at Queen’s Park. There seems to me more interest in the Hollywood concept of The King’s Speech than in Queen’s Park listening! Police and bureaucrats claimed the demand to meet with the Minister of Finance and present an “unauthorized” letter was past the pale, forcing the members with flags, bullhorns, and chanting to call out to supporters passing by and post the letter to the minister from in front of the government’s own building. “Hey,” politicians seem to be saying in Ontario, “what do we care about the problems of a bunch of new Canadian immigrants?” Indeed!
The report from ACORN Ottawa head organizer, Jill O’Reilly, elegantly and concisely describes what nearly 30 members faced at the federal level in pressing the demands:
“CUPW joined us with their national president. SEIU Canada local 2 staff joined us as well
We got press in Ottawa Metro, major free daily paper. We got local press in the Ottawa EMC, which publishes Thursday.
Leaders Michelle Walrond and Adrian Profitos went up with no trouble to commissioner’s office Ursula Menke at the FCAC. She wasn’t in or the deputy commissioner. So we spoke with their media relations person who tried to shove us off to the minister’s office. But members stayed firm and they promised us a meeting and to look at our info. We asked them to pass on the message to Ursula and her office that she needs to recommend a 5% cap on banks for remittance fees to the minister, etc.
The woman we dealt with was a little shaky and the press came up and took some good shots. the building management called the cops on top of the cops I already spoke with this AM. We turned out approx 11 cops. who were super nice and pissed that the building management called in more of them when we already notified them.”
All in a day’s work as other countries in the ACORN International federation also move to step forward with the same demand in the seven other countries where our members face the same issues.
Another step forward, as momentum continues to build around the world for remittance justice and it becomes clear there’s no stopping us now!