THESINK.CA March, 2017
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Its a step in the right direction.
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HOW IT WORKS:
PETITION TO THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
SIGNATURE COUNT : 62
The purpose of this petition is to make the legislature of this province aware of a serious disconnect between the law governing co-operative corporations and FSCO, the body that has been set up to oversee and enforce that law.
Markets calling themselves farmers markets should not be allowed to register as co-operatives unless there is a clear and demonstrable commitment to the democratic principles and values of the co-operative movement.
This goal can easily be achieved. The law is in place. The enforcing body is in place.
Specifically, the law in question is the Co-operative Corporations Act of Ontario. The regulating body is FSCO, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, which is under the authority of a Superintendent, who answers to the Minister of Finance.
The Act spells out the rights of members of all the co-operatives in Ontario, including the two farmers markets that are registered as co-opsRosseau and Gravenhurstand it spells out the duties and obligations of the directors of these co-ops, and it provides penalties for abuse of authority, and provision for revocation of co-op status where warranted.
So what is the problem?
Let me draw an analogy with road traffic. Imagine for a moment that we have our rules of the road, laws governing the operation of motor vehicles, and penalties in place for infractions of these rules, and a Superintendent to ensure that all goes wellBut the roads are never monitored, there are no traffic cops, people drive their vehicles as they please, and the Superintendent will communicate only with corporate CEOs..
Its easy to imagine the result. A law that is not enforced is not respected. In fact its worthless. Which means, in this case, that the rights and obligations of co-op members exist only on paper.
Here is the disconnect: FSCO has no contact with farmers market co-ops, and therefore no oversight of them, no understanding of how they operate, and especially, no knowlege that they are not co-ops at all. And in consequence of all this, the law is never enforced. Appeals to FSCO by any co-op member go unanswered. The Superintendent is accustomed to dealing only with corporate CEOs.
Poor stuff! Where are Canadian values in all this? Canadian democracy?
A member of a farmers market co-op whose rights are not being respected has nowhere to turn but the courts. But the courts assume that a registered co-operative is operating on the basis of co-op democracy, principles, and values, and are therefore unwilling to intervene in what they believe is a self-governing democratic entity. The assumption is not necessarily a valid one. In the case of the Rosseau and Gravenhurst markets, the assumption is wrong.
The proper authority to ensure that corporations registered as co-ops truly are organized on, and operate in accordance with, co-operative democracy, principles and values, is FSCO.
This petition will make the Legislative Assembly of Ontario aware of the problem.
It's a step in the right direction.