Student activists from Ontario travel to New Orleans to protest the SPP

Posted by admin on Apr 25th, 2008

Written by Ontario Student Movement  Tuesday, 22 April 2008

NEW ORLEANS – Over 30 students from 5 Ontario Universities and Colleges have travelled to attend the New Orleans People’s Summit and participate in various actions opposing the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and the ongoing marginalization of Hurricane Katrina survivors. On April 17th several Canadian organizations began the long trek to New Orleans for The People`s Summit which is taking place from April 20th-22nd. Its purpose is to counter the meeting of North American heads-of-state with the North American Competitiveness Council. The meeting is an annual summit as part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership often referred to as the “North American Union” or “NAFTA on steroids.” Set to harmonize standards among the three countries, this Partnership also includes such agenda items as continental security, defense, and labour regulations. Initial stages of the Partnership have begun in 2001 and are set to complete in 2010 with a final summit in Canada.

Student representatives from the Ottawa University Student’s Federation (SFUO), Anti-War@Laurier, members of Fanshawe College Social Justice Club in London, University of Guelph, Ryerson University, and the People’s Global Action-Block Ottawa (PGA) have united to represent the Ontario Student Movement at this year’s SPP summit in New Orleans. Lia Tara of the PGA-Block Ottawa notes that “mobilizing against the SPP has strengthened a number of autonomous organizations in Canada and has produced a movement that has enough skills to assess a situation such as the lack of a local mobilized convergence and compensate for it in a locally minded and unobtrusive way.”

Among the more pressing issues arising from this Partnership is the immediate escalation in resource exploitation of the Tar Sands in Alberta, hydroelectricity in Mexico, water privatization, and migration issues. The intent of private enterprises cooperating with national leaders is to ease the flow of trade across borders while limiting the movement of people. Massive highways as well as over 50 oil and gas pipelines are in the process of being built to ease this purpose.

New Orleans has been selected to host this year`s summit due to the devastation wreaked upon it by hurricane Katrina which has led to lucrative business opportunities. Further, internal gentrification of the city has restricted the possibility of dissent making the it a more strategically sound choice for the organizers of the Summit.

Local activists have arranged The People`s Summit which includes workshops, teach-ins, films, and creative displays but purposefully limits mass convergences. The Canadian contingent, in coordination with numerous local organizations has thus taken upon itself the orgnization of a parade-like festive march scheduled for the final day of the summit. Planning to take off from Jackson Square Park at 9:15 p.m. on April 22nd, the purpose of this march is to bring together the local and most poverty stricken communities in a spirit of celebration of resistance. It will also focus on spreading information about the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

For this purpose, a number of groups have outreached to various parts of the city to include and invite local residents to join. An overwhelmingly positive support from residents and local organizers has confirmed the need for such a convergence.

  • SPP/Tar Sands
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