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The SPP’s business backers were sounding almost grumpy as the SPP summits - both popular and government - ended in New Orleans Apr. 22.

A report from the North American Competitiveness Council presented to the leaders of Canada, the US and Mexico complains about “public misperceptions” about NAFTA and how its benefits are “not universally understood.”

The report warns: “To the extent that the NAFTA itself continues to be a target, efforts to ‘deepen the NAFTA’ will be largely unsuccessful.”

However as one observer points out, these so-called misperceptions are likely due to the fact that average incomes have stagnated or fallen for most families over the last 20 years.

And the SPP offers only more of the same.

CUPE’s delegation to the New Orleans People’s Summit took part in workshops examining issues like privatization, immigration and deregulation in the context of NAFTA and the SPP.

On Tuesday afternoon, the CUPE delegates visited the New Orleans chapter of ACORN.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, CUPE National contributed $50,000 to ACORN to assist with community rebuilding projects in New Orleans.

Local ACORN organizers Beth Butler and Diana Hill briefed the CUPE visitors on a range of projects, particularly in the Lower 9th ward, including:

  • removal of lead from 10 homes per week;
  • the gutting of 5000 homes so far to help make them ready for redevelopment;
  • advocacy campaigns to protect land for residents; home rebuilding;
  • a campaign to restore certified water to the Lower 9th ward;
  • voter registration;
  • tax preparation help and much more.

The CUPE visitors left feeling moved and motivated by the courage of the working people of New Orleans and the impressive organizing done by ACORN.

The day concluded with a celebratory anti-SPP march through the French Quarter organized by students from the University of Ottawa who had travelled to New Orleans for the People’s Summit.