OTTAWA, April 14, 2016 /CNW/ – The Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) Board presented the Honourable Mauril Bélanger with its highest honour, The Achievement Award. The Achievement Award honors the outstanding contributions of men and women to the cause and the development of co‐operatives and mutuals in Canada. This award recognizes Mr. Bélanger’s exceptional contribution to promoting, developing and uniting co‐operatives and mutuals in Canada.

“Mauril is recognized not only as a powerful ally, but also as a personal friend esteemed by many people within the co-operative movement” said Melvin Doiron, CMC Board Director and Chair of the Awards Committee. “Thank you Mauril. You are an outstanding co‑operator.”

Mauril Bélanger has served as MP for Ottawa-Vanier since 1995. Over his career, he has been an ardent supporter and champion for the co-operatives in his riding. In his early career he fought hard to protect housing co-operatives from his own government’s proposed cuts.

In 2012, Mr. Bélanger requested that interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae name him as Liberal Advocate for Co-operatives. His first action was to request and receive approval for a Special Committee on the Status of Co-operatives in Canada. In his role as Advocate and Chair of the Special Committee, he worked across party lines to diligently report on the actions required by government to modernize and optimize how co-operative enterprises are supported by government.

This crucial work also resulted in Mauril Bélanger becoming an effective and passionate co‑operative leader nationally. He visited every region of Canada and attended co-op Annual General Meetings to learn everything he could about the sector.

Mr. Bélanger continued to build on his role as advocate for co-operatives in 2014, when he reached across party lines and formed the All Party Caucus on Co-operatives with co-chair MP’s Joe Preston (CPC) and Hélène LeBlanc (NDP). The Caucus met monthly to explore and understand co-operative issues and solutions, a crucial flow of information to members of all parties that would not have been realized without Mauril Bélanger’s leadership and tremendous energy.

“It is a great honour to recognize Mauril Bélanger’s enormous commitment and contribution” stated Jack Wilkinson, CMC President. “Mauril’s enthusiasm has really reset the conversation and created confidence that co-operative solutions are public policy solutions.”

In late 2015, Mauril Bélanger was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and this news has generated an outpouring of support from his friends in the co-operative movement. The Achievement Award is one of many expressions of gratitude to Mauril Bélanger, a person who has inspired with leadership, wit and insight as the Advocate for Co‑operatives.

About CMC: Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada is the national, bilingual association for co-operatives and mutuals in Canada. Through advocacy with the federal government, CMC provides a knowledgeable voice committed to improving the economic and regulatory environment for co-operatives and mutuals on behalf of our members. CMC’s members come from many sectors of the economy, including finance, insurance, agri-food and supply, wholesale and retail, housing, health, forestry, education, funeral services, public utilities and community development. CMC provides leadership to support, promote, and develop the co-operative economy inCanada. The co-operative and mutual movement in Canada counts more than 18 million memberships from approximately 9,000 co-operative and mutual enterprises.

For further information: Brendan Denovan, Manager of Communications, 613.238.6712 x206, bdenovan@canada.coop, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada 275 Bank Street, Suite 400 Ottawa ON K2P 2L6