The Honourable Bardish Chagger, PC, MP, Minister of Small Business and Tourism
National Congress and AGM of Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada
June 21, 2017
Good evening. Thank you, Doug [Potentier, President, Co-ops and Mutuals Canada], for that kind introduction.
Mesdames et Messieurs, je suis ravie d’être ici ce soir. Nous célébrons le cent cinquantième anniversaire du Canada. Et nous soulignons le rôle important des coopératives et des mutuelles dans l’histoire du Canada.
At the very beginning of our country, it was farming and financial co-ops that were instrumental in the settling of Western Canada – they enabled communities to come together and to work together, to invest, grow and share their proceeds among themselves.
Le Groupe Desjardins a été fondé en mille neuf cents à Lévis, au Québec. Il est aujourd’hui la plus grande association de caisses populaires en Amérique du Nord.
Housing and worker co-ops have helped residents and workers across Canada to create the kinds of communities and businesses that are focused on serving the collective interest of all members.
Co-ops come in in all different sizes, and in virtually every sector of the economy.
Et, en tant que ministre de la Petite entreprise et du tourisme, je noterais que près de 80% de celles-ci sont des petites entreprises.
Mais peu importe leur taille, leur contribution à notre économie est plus qu’importante.
We know that in recent years, they have typically created jobs faster than the broader economy, and now represent about 4 percent of all jobs in Canada. These are good-paying, middle class jobs.
And they contribute billions annually to our GDP.
What makes co-ops and mutuals special is that they are focused on building values-based, community owned alternatives to conventional business.
As our Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau has said, “Our government—like cooperatives—believes an economy should work for everyone.”
I was very happy to see the House of Commons unanimously adopt Motion M-100, introduced by my colleague Alexandra Mendes, on April 5.
This motion recognized the importance of co-operatives to our economy and to our society, and it was great to see the entire House of Commons united in agreement on that point.
Nous pensons que le gouvernement fédéral peut en faire davantage pour appuyer les coopératives et les mutuels. Et je veux rassurer toutes les personnes présentes ici ce soir que mon ministère est prêt à relever le défi.
La motion M-cent est le couronnement du travail de mon collègue et ami, feu Mauril Bélanger.
Nobody in Parliament did more to advocate for or raise awareness of the importance of co-operatives.
Whether it was his frequent travel across the country, speaking at conventions and meetings like this in cities large and small.
Or his leadership in creating a national multi-party co-operative caucus in Parliament.
Or the fact he became almost universally known as the Advocate for Co-ops.
Mauril a montré — en votre nom — un grand leadership dans ce dossier. Un tel engagement ne s’était pas vu depuis les années mil-neuf-cent-soixante-dix.
And he delivered.
Now, it is our collective responsibility to work together to build on his legacy, and continue to make Mauril proud.
I want to leave you with a quote from Mauril. He said: “I believe we need to apply the model offered us by the co-operative sector to the business of the nation.
We should be partners, not enemies, collectively invested in making Parliament work for the benefit of Canadians”
As the Government House Leader, I have thought regularly about his words. I agree. We all can learn from the approach and the principles that co-ops and mutuals represent.
By working together, we can deliver results for Canadians.
Les coopératives et les mutuelles ont connu une riche histoire au cours des cent cinquante dernières années. Nous voulons assurer que les cent cinquante prochaines années vont être tout aussi marquantes et transformatrices.
Thank you for having me here tonight.
I wish you all the best.
And I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening.