Fourth Meeting of The All-Party Caucus on Co-operatives

Dear Friends,

The All-Party Caucus on Co-operatives held its fourth meeting on Wednesday, September 26th 2014, under the theme “Financial co-ops and the co-operative difference”.

I chaired this fourth meeting and welcomed the following invited guests: Ms. Monique Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Desjardins Group and Ms. Martha Durdin, new President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Credit Union Central of Canada. A record 28 parliamentarians attended, from all three recognized parties. Also, in the room were several directors from Credit Union Central of Canada (CUCC) as well as from Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC).

Credit Union Central of Canada (CUCC) is the national trade association for the Canadian credit union system. Desjardins Group is the top co-operative financial group in Canada and it has over 6 million members and clients. It’s important to note that Desjardins provided $81 million in community support (donations and sponsorships combined) in 2013. Ms. Durdin, President and CEO of the CUCC, was the first to present. She provided an overview of the Canadian credit union sector, with the exception of Desjardins Group and the province of Quebec. She outlined the stability of credit unions in market place.

When sharing the sector’s proposal for the 2015 Federal Budget, the Capital Tax Credit, Ms. Durdin explained that it could stimulate growth in the credit union sector.  She asked all parliamentarians to raise the tax credit with the Finance Minister and their respective caucuses.

Afterwards, Ms. Monique Leroux addressed the audience. She is also a founding partner of the Quebec International Summit of Co-operatives. The second Summit will be held this early October and will involve over 2,500 participants from 100 countries. The first one was held in October 2012, during the International Year of Co-operatives.

During her presentation, Ms. Leroux underlined the achievements and the history of the Desjardins Group. She outlined Desjardins operations in Quebec and outside Quebec, as well as its international operations. She explained that profits are not the only thing that drives Desjardins and other co-operatives, describing the co-op difference.

While responding to a question regarding the sector’s Capital Tax Credit proposal to the federal government, Ms. Leroux reiterated that all credit unions and caisses need to be on a level playing field and that most regulations are designed to fit the “corporate model”. On the same subject, Ms. Durdin explained that the 5% figure for the Capital Tax Credit proposal represents roughly the gap between the corporate tax rate and the small business tax rate.

During the discussions, Ms. Durdin mentioned that Credit Unions play a very important role, however she emphasized that they need a regulatory environment to help them grow. Ms. Leroux explained that co‐operatives can bring solutions to help Canadians and that the federal government needs to keep co-operatives in mind when making decisions and drafting legislations.

At the end of the meeting I thanked everyone for attending and our guests for their valuable insights. Our plan moving forward is to organize two other meetings of the All-Party Caucus on Co-operatives this Fall. As usual, I will keep you informed of my other co-op related activities.

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

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