On September 14, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), the largest consumer cooperative in Canada, declared in the press that it was restructuring, selling its assets and losing its identity as a cooperative. The MEC membership, more than 5 million strong, was not notified of the Board's unanimous decision to sell to Kingswood Capital Management. MEC member-owners immediately began mobilising via social media and other channels. Below is a letter to the MEC members from ICA Director General Bruno Roelants offering our support and solidarity (available in English). If you're interested in getting more information or how to help, click here the information in (English and French).
Cooperatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) has published an open letter to cooperators across the world in which it encourages the movement to join the Save the Mountain Equipment Campaign. Launched last month, the campaign aims to save the MEC from demutualisation.
The B.C. Superior Court is currently reviewing the sale of MEC. CMC highlights that the democratic rights of the MEC members are enshrined in the Co-operative Associations Act of B.C. and in the by-laws of the cooperative.
The apex also adds that an approval of the sale could undermine member capital contributions to cooperatives and erode public confidence in the cooperative model.
Read the full letter here.
To the Members-owners of the Mountain Equipment Co-operative
24 September 2020
Dear Members of the Mountain Equipment Co-operative,
We have been informed of the difficulties which your cooperative is encountering, and this has drawn all our attention and solidarity.
Mountain Equipment Co-operative (MEC) is one of the largest consumer cooperatives in Canada. Many of us, while visiting Canada, have been at the MEC and appreciated its extraordinary dynamism and quality. Like in any cooperative, the 5 million members and owners of the MEC need to exercise their democratic voice to shape the future of their cooperative. They need time to investigate the potential financial re-structuring that safeguards its cooperative identity and mission. It is fundamental that they exercise their rights in this critical juncture. Any decision regarding the sale and termination of the cooperative cannot be taken without the approval of the members’ assembly. Members should be able to exercise their rights to democratic member control (2nd cooperative principle) and ownership (member economic participation, 3rd cooperative principle) and seek a viable solution through cooperation among cooperatives (6th cooperative principle). As per the international definition enshrined in the ICA Statement on the Cooperative identity (1995) and in ILO Recommendation 193 (2002), cooperative members are not simply clients, but the co-owners of the cooperative enterprise that they control democratically.
Allowing the MEC to maintain its cooperative value and identity will be in the interest not only of its members-owners but also of the surrounding communities and of Canadian economy and society as a whole.
We are with you! We trust you will find the solution! Be strong!