From June 16th – 19th, co-operators from across Canada convened in Moncton, New Brunswick to take part in the 2014 Congress. The Congress marked a significant event in Canadian co-operative history: The inaugural Annual General Meeting of Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC).
Canada’s new apex organization for all co-operatives and mutuals accomplished something that has long been sought: The bringing together of co-operators from the memberships of the 2 founding organizations to work together. On April 1, 2014, sixty members joined CMC and the member delegates attending this historic AGM officially inaugurated the new association.
Congress 2014 was a celebration of this accomplishment. The atmosphere was positive and forward looking, the debate and discussion productive and informed. While the entire day of June 18 had been allocated to the discussion and debate of 9 resolutions, all were passed in the morning with very few amendments or dissenting votes.
The resolutions passed included by-laws governing CMC, a proposed delegate engagement plan, and a resolution that CMC seek, along with members and partners, to establish the Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund, which is currently about 2/3rds of the way toward having the minimum pledges of $20 million. A key resolution to work with Industry Canada to build a database of co-operative and mutual enterprises that can increase data and knowledge on the co-operative economy was unanimously passed. A resolution proposed by CWCF, calling on CMC to hold consultations with members on the concept of the indivisible reserve, also passed.
CMC approved a resolution that requests that the Government of Canada implement a Canadian Co-operative Development Strategy. The same resolution asks for direct government investment in the soon to be launched Co-operative Investment Fund.
An emergency resolution, Resolution 9, dealt with the growing concern with demutualisation. This resolution recommended the following alternatives to a small minority of policyholders in a mutual property and casualty insurance company receiving windfall benefits from demutualization. “CMC recommends to the federal government that it consider the residual value of a property and casualty mutual insurer as indivisible and as owned by all policyholders and not just the current ‘mutualist’ policyholders and that, upon the demutualization of a property and casualty insurance mutual, the surplus of that mutual be retained for the long term benefit of the mutual sector or be transferred to charitable organizations.”
The rapid approval of resolutions opened the afternoon for presentations by CMC members and CMC staff, which added a spontaneous and forthright exchange of information at the AGM. This will likely be a feature of future AGM’s as it received very positive comments from members. For many, this was the best and most informative part of the meeting.
A membership ceremony was held to honour and recognize the 60 inaugural CMC members whose support makes possible the unified advancement of co-operative and mutualistic interests in Canada.
Léo LeBlanc Speech to the first Annual General Meeting of CMC
The 2014-2015 Board of Directors
On June 19, the CMC delegates elected the 6 new directors for the ‘at large’ seats from a crowded and competent field of eleven candidates.
Re-elected to the Board are:
- Léo LeBlanc, Co-op Atlantic
- Hazel Corcoran, Canadian Worker Co-op Federation
- Marco Plourde, Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes
Newly elected to the Board are:
- Lucie Moncion, Alliance des caisses populaires de l’Ontario
- Mark Needham, Arctic Co-operatives Ltd.
- Nick Sidor, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada
Newly appointed to the designated board seats are:
- Melvin Doiron, Conseil acadien de la coopération (NB)
- Doug Lang, Central 1 Credit Union
- Todd MacEwen, Prince Edward Island Co-operative Council
- Rolf Traichel, Federated Co-operatives Ltd.
While those continuing to serve in designated seats are:
- Monique Leroux, Mouvement Desjardins
- Denis Richard, La Coop fédérée
- Serge Riendeau, Agropur
- Jack Wilkinson, The Co-operators
Following the annual meeting, the following directors were selected by the 2014-2015 CMC Board of Directors to serves as officers:
- Léo LeBlanc re-elected as CMC President
- Hazel Corcoran and Denis Richard, Vice-Presidents
- Lucie Moncion, Chair of the Governance Committee
- Marco Plourde, Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee
Executive Director, Denyse Guy was very positive about the composition of the CMC Board “Both CMC Board and staff are pleased with the skills, knowledge and new energy being added to the board” she said, “This is a very promising and representative Board that will lead the continued emergence of CMC as a national voice.”
After the voting, a keynote speech by Kevin Page, former Parliamentary Budget Officer, closed the CMC AGM. He offered encouraging words about the worthiness of the CMC mission and vision, and some key observations about co-operative values. Mr. Page noted that in the current economic landscape, given the cynical behavior of some in private enterprise during and since the 2008 economic crisis, “the co-operative model shines in comparison”.
In addition to the historic occasion of the CMC AGM, participants of 2014 Congress were able to explore local NB co-op initiatives, engage in panel discussions regarding co-ops in the developing world and attend a CDF Fundraising dinner in nearby Shediac. They were also able to observe the annual meetings of the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada and the annual meeting of the Canadian Co-operative Association (which, since April 1st, focuses exclusively on international development).
The Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick, who co-hosted this year’s Congress, held their Annual General Meeting and shared the day with co-operators from across the country.
Another important milestone in the Canadian co-operative movement was achieved by the National Young Co-operators (NYC) and les Jeunes coopérateurs et mutualistes du Canada (JCMC), who met and agreed to create a new unified group called “Canada’s Emerging Co-operators / Coopérateurs émergents du Canada” (CEC) .