Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada held its first semi-annual meeting of delegates in Ottawa on Wednesday November 26. Fifty-seven delegates representing thirty-nine members took part in the event.

The meeting included presentations by several speakers including the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, Mike Lake, who recognized the economic and social importance of co-operatives and affirmed the Canadian government`s intent to support the sector.

Stéphane Bertrand and Suzanne Gendron from the 2014 International Summit of Co-operatives gave an overview and an update on the impact of the event. The positives they reported were confirmed by the remarks made by delegates’ and board members. The possibility of a third summit in 2016 or 2017 was also discussed.

The International Co-operative Alliance`s action plan, named A Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, was presented by ICA strategic manager Hanan El-Youssef. Her presentation was followed by a debate on the action plan, Canada`s role in it and the choices needed to ensure its realization.

Jack Wilkinson, a CMC Board member, spoke about the priorities and approach of CMC regarding government affairs and the role of the Government Affairs Committee. He also gave the delegates an account of the CMC meeting with the All Party Co-operative Caucus earlier in the day.

CMC Directors Nick Sidor and Marco Plourde  hosted an open exchange of ideas between delegates. Delegates provided updates and examples of success in their field or sector, raised important issues facing the co-operative movement today and generally offered valuable insights and opinion. This open discussion format originated from the 2014 CMC Annual General Meeting when the floor of the plenary was opened for sharing information. A survey found this to be one of the highlights of the AGM.

Delegates also discussed some important questions about the CMC governance structure. A debate on the composition the Board of Directors of CMC, in terms of numbers and representativeness was facilitated by the Institute on Governance.

The president of CMC, Léo LeBlanc, concluded by saying that CMC delegates had achieved the objectives set for this meeting. The meeting represents renewed thinking about how to engage more closely with members as CMC establishes the mandate of the national association.