Dear Friends,

In my role as the Liberal Advocate for Co-operatives, I am committed to reaching out to the co-op community. In keeping with this ongoing engagement, I gratefully accepted an invitation to speak at two regional conferences organized by the Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op); the Niagara Co-op Conference in St. Catharines (March 4th) and the GTA Co-op Connections Event in Toronto (March 7th).

On Co-op is the umbrella group for Ontario’s English-speaking co-operatives and credit unions. Its membership consists of over 60 co-operatives, federations and sector stakeholders. While exchanging with co-operators, I’ve heard of the challenges facing start-up co-operatives, especially with regard to obtaining capital. This is an area where I will continue to push for better understanding of the co-operative model and a more open approach to allowing co-operatives to benefit from existing and future programs.

On March 2nd, I attended the 86th Annual General Meeting of Federated Co-operative Limited (FCL) which took place in Saskatoon. FCL is a multi-faceted organization based on the principles of co-operation and owned by approximately 235 retail co-ops located throughout Western Canada. These co-operatives are “member-owners” of FCL who in turn provides central wholesaling, manufacturing, marketing and administrative services to its member-owners. FCL is the largest enterprise in Saskatchewan and the 45th in Canada. Last year its sales reached $10.8 billion.

I thank On Co-op for inviting me to their regional conferences as well as FCL for the opportunity to attend its AGM.

As always I will keep you posted on my various co-op related activities.


Honourable Mauril Bélanger, M.P. for Ottawa—Vanier
Liberal Advocate for Co-operatives