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    • #7443
      Les EllsworthLes Ellsworth

      First of all, I believe that educated directors are very important to any co-op board. In the case of MEC, I believe they stepped way outside the coop model and if they had looked within it’s own membership of 4.5 million members they would have found high level governance experience and if not, the ability within the coop model to educate. Regardless of how large the retail business is in a competitive market, we still have to follow the coop principles and allow any member in good standing to run. Once we go outside of this, in my opinion, we are no longer in a coop model. We must always have a one member, one vote system or else we become a system in were our voting is based on how many shares we buy. In our coop, we would follow the traditional election procedures. We look around different organizations that our members sit on and try recruit. We also solicit young members. Our directors are encouraged to take courses offered within the Coop structure.

    • #7445
      Mary NirlungayukMary Nirlungayuk

      I agree – I feel MEC is moving away from being a Co-operatives just like Co-op Atlantic as they feel they need experts to be relevant.

    • #7566
      Jen BudneyJen Budney

      Thanks for these posts, Les and Mary. It seems to me the issue can’t be located simply in MEC changing. It’s also the fact that the retail market for outdoor gear is changing as a whole – and there are many very large competitors that could easily outcompete MEC. So questions about co-op governance and decision making can’t be isolated to the co-ops themselves – they exist within an evolving ecosystem that threatens them in new ways and presents new opportunities on a regular basis. The scale of growth of these businesses was something that could not have been predicted 30 or 40 years ago – at least not by most people. Is this a dilemma for some co-operative organizations? How should co-ops in these rapidly evolving contexts try to adapt and succeed, without deviating from the original co-op principles? My second question, is there a way to deviate from the principles without deviating from the values, which some people believe are more important? (self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity, along with honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others)

    • #7574
      Jan O’BrienJan O’Brien

      I have sympathy for the MEC dilemma. As a coop, like the multi-billion dollar credit union where I am director, it is important to ensure that the members’ interest are well looked after. Being selective about who is on the board will not undermine the coop principles if directors are ensuring that there is values alignment as a foundational principle. Our credit union provides a five day orientation to directors and staff about coops and our own way of doing business which puts the members and their communities at the centre. When we inaugurated this program a few years ago every existing and new staff and directors had to participate.

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