2013 Signers' comments

Comments from folks who signed the open letter:

Note the second co-operative principle. MEC is failing its member-owners with regards to the co-operative principles.

1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
3. Members' Economic Participation
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.
4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.
5. Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7. Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.

MEC needs to do whatever it can to model and promote democratic processes. Enough of anti-demoncratic "father knows best" behaviours!

MEC's board continues to degrade the already marginal quality of MEC's democracy.

Yes, please amp up the co-op democracy, lets prove to the world more and more than a democratic, co-op economy is totally the way to go. Please be careful of uprooting the co-op and transplanting into the environment meant for corporations-- please, don't do that!!

Been a member since I was old enough to get my own card (highly prized at the time). Have witnessed MEC turn form a leader to little that distinguishes it from many other outdoor stores. Please treat this petition seriously and listed to the individuals that make up MEC, not just consume the products. Don't just say that you are different with some profit-sharing and sustainability initiatives, show us immediately when we walk in the door how you are different. Be the democratic organization that you claim to be. These resolutions work against transparency and democracy.

The 10,000th member, to be precise. Any drift towards board control at the expense of member participation and input is counter to the philosophy of a co-op.

I support this open letter and the proposed changes toward making the Mountain Equipment Co-op more open and inviting for member-owners to participate within.

Good suggestions. As writer noted, all organizations tend to attract selfish careerists to leadership positions and to become less democratic. It is a constant, but necessary and healthy, battle by members to retain democratic control, accountability and direction.

Members of a co-op should be encouraged to consult with one another and the board about company matters. As active members, we should be allowed to voice our opinion and to have those opinions discussed. I am a member because of what the company represents as a co-op; once a co-op becomes undemocratic, members are not active and the company represents the opinions of a select few. We need people who have co-op experience to be on the board, to make the company better and to cherish it's membership through democracy.

More democracy, not less. Please.

by the members, for the members

The term cooperative means owned by members. Only total members can make decisions.
the powers od boards must depend on will of the majority.

there are a number of areas i woud like to add to these concerns including genner and size bias in available clothing. Large woman also like to wear stylish sport lothes, to exercise and to support Canadian co operatives.
Shame on MEC board for letting the banner drop!

Don't go the neoliberal way. Stand apart.

opt for more participatory democracy, more ethical sourcing in terms of labour, environment -- prioritizing local communities over profit.

-I support that the MEC is making a surplus which is needed for its sustainability.
-I support the grassroots concept.Concentrating on candidates suggested by the Board breeds cliquiness and inbreed.

I have been a member since the beginning.

No candidate recommendations. Business experience is not a sufficient or necessary qualification. Experience in democratic social advocacy organizations is more important.

Finally, a step toward openness.

Very good ideas and they deserve members support. The forum is crucial if members are to have a say in these large cooperatives.

Power to the people!

I support this resolution!

Members made this co-op great. Never forget.

I was shocked to see the composition of the proposed board, very corporate and mostly male. Not the coop I joined, nor the one I want to be a member of.

As a long time member I too am concerned with MEC and democratic practices.

Thank you for this. Very Exciting!

I believe this is more complex than the letter suggests. Actions were taken for reasons that "attack" all boards from time to time. I have not paid enough attention to know if the resolutions have been spurred by time-wasting members, continuing conflict with one or 2 board members, people lobbying to have only people with their agenda on the board. The response, however, is clearly not solving any of the problems in ways that promote the values of a cooperative. Therefore, without judgement, without full understanding, I append my signature to this letter and to the effort.

I believe I am a member. See "affiliation" above, re "frozen co-ops," the product of short-sighted greed. Challenge the NDP to put co-ops back in its

I agree - I love the potential and history of MEC and make a point to shop there when I need outdoor gear even though it is a long bus ride from my house. Please act to make MEC more democratic and representative.

Thank you for initiating this - I felt at the time to vote that we are being asked to vote on matters that are truly not clear or concise to us as members; essentially having no sense to what the ramifications may be either way.

Your letter outlines my sentiments better than I could do so myself.

I've watched in dismay over the years as MEC has become less like a co-op and more like a privately owned and controlled corporation, to the point that I now avoid shopping there. I'd like to see MEC go back to being someplace I feel good about spending my money.

Democracy in this co-op, any co-op, is a key to it's success.

Co-ops must offer democratic, egalitarian alternatives to the standard liability protection and concentrated power of corporations.
Membership must be active, such as the signatories above, to keep the direction progressive - and profitable.

I believe that it's essential that MEC stay democratic. This to me means that the Board of Directors does not have the ability to remove or choose which new board members can become a part of the cooperative. Nor does this mean that they can provide suggestions on plebicite quesitons.

100% Agree.

the drift is noticeable through the products being sold.

Co-ops should be eternally openly democratic, despite the challenges and issues that may be associated. These are challenges and issues we must accept, instead of circumventing them by oppressing participation and transparency.

Turning the MEC board into a self serving club for a small number of elites who entrench themselves and their friends in power and whatever other benefits they assign themselves is not only anti democratic it is precisely the kind of selfishness that has led banks to become criminal organizations that rip off the innocent and trusting. It is time for a change at MEC.

I've sent two letters to the Board asking that MEC stop selling products made by Israeli owned companies located in occupied Palestine. The Board failed to even reply to my letter. Very disappointing, but thank you very much to those who have initiated this campaign. I believe in MEC as a strong, democratic, cooperative and I will vote.

The board members should be ashamed of their undemocratic actions!

What does the current board have to gain from siloing?

I think a cooperative has to have a community focus - half the seats need to be set aside for rank and file members and community leaders not just people with executive experience.

Are we too big to fail?

Mine is not the corporate paradigm of unlimited , ever expanding growth but of local focus with broader networks to address sustainable business, ethics and membership needs.

focus and diversity

For many years now I've reduced my emotional attachment to MEC and just seen it as just another store. It would be marvelous if once again MEC saw itself as a progressive cooperative rather than a corporation. Thank you to the folks who have put this letter together.
Larry Tallman

Long-time MEC member

Let's not go the route of a number of credit unions which have stopped serving their members in favour of a certain, closed style of management.

I have seen credit unions go the same way - more management control at the expense of the members. I support this initiative to enhance, rather than diminish, democracy in MEC.

O No! Not another NGO or non-profit falling in line behind Harper. Got to stop this trend and build a genuinely sane, deomcratic and caring country

Boards must be accountable to members.

I want a more democratic MEC. The idea of the board giving itself the right to refuse candidates is appalling.
Meanwhile, including frequent and widely-based member-owner input would strengthen the co-operative spirit of MEC and probably make it more profitable.

Given current communications technologies informing and consulting members-owners regarding MEC policies and operations would not place an undue burden on the co-operative. A wider variety of decisions could be put to member-owner votes using these technologies as well.

I think it would benefit MEC to have more member involvement, ideas, input and that many MEC members, including me, would welcome more involvement.

The suggestions in the letter - seeking input from MEC members, creating an on-line forum - represent valuable steps towards a more democratic, and ultimately more responsive and innovative MEC. Thanks for spearheading this initiative.

We need all the democracy we can get!

I am for a democratic MEC

We need more democracy not less! Coops are all about democracy. Don't let MEC get corrupted by corporatist ideology.

More democracy and ground up participation makes a better co-op. As a member of several different co-ops in the last 50 years, I value the control of membership over management. Remember management, you are our employees and actions designed to disenfranchise members should lead to your dismissal.

At least I think so...was many years ago but can't locate that number now.

I love that! Co is for co-operation, nor corporation.

I expect more from MEC.

The board resolutions have annoyed me for the past few years now. Glad someone is organizing to push back a bit. Love the stores and shop there bc MEC is a coop. If it wasn't a coop I wouldn't be so loyal to the place. I support this petition.

No to special resolution

I'd like to see MEC drop Israeli products and take a stand against the occupation, land grabs and Israeli Apartheid. What is it with so called progressive or "green" retailers that makes them support a Israeli colonialist economy instead of standing up for human rights. Humbolt's in Winnipeg carries SodaStream products made on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank. Somehow the "green" store keepers think that their pop bottle morality is more important than the human rights travesty represented by Israeli products. I say drop all Israeli products. Lots of other people make good underwear and water bladders.

I am also concerned about some of the brands that MEC carries, particularly those brands made in Israel with companies that have some manufacturing sites in the West Bank, on land illegally occupied by Israel and stolen from Palestinians. Some of the MEC hydration products are also made by Israeli companies who are strongly rooted in the Israeli military complex. I do not want to support the occupation by my purchasing! Extend the ethics of co-operation and democracy to include fair trade and products not representing oppression, occupation and violations of human rights.


Love MEC but would like to see more democracy not less. It is not for the Board who to decide for me who best represents me in the governance of MY co-op.

MEC..start showing that members are important.democracy,stop gender buying that focuses on girlie stuff and small sizes.
Listen to your constituency I have a firm belief in the values of the Cooperative model.
VERY important to maintain and enhance member-participation opportunities, especially in the Board of Directors. I like the proposed engagement mechanisms and would be happy to take part in any of them. Let's all work together away from Big Business. Doesn't work!

If I've read this correctly: current board members should not have the power to reject other people from running for election to the board. That'd be dumb, and undemocratic.

We ARE members of a co-operative fundamental democracy

MEC is an awesome store with very good principles. Please keep it co-operative.

I have held the values of MEC as cooperative dear. Please, let's keep it that way.

MEC is already overly-monolithic. Through free shipping it's competing with every small mountain equipment business in every small town that can't afford the same volume of inventory or to use as small of a margin. It's saving grace is that it's a co-op and serves it's members well; if the nature of its structure changes however, it just turns into The McDonald's of mountain stores overnight. I don't eat at McDonald's, nor will I ever.

I'm against resolution 1. It's amazing that local participation on the board is not mandated already. This is the fundamental principle in sustainability and responsible stewardship of our environment.

This is a beautiful and inspiring initiative that I fully endorse.

MEC should also be joining the BDS campaign, and stop distributing israeli products. we need to re-table that proposition!

Democracy strengthens business, resilency, and promotes innovation, don't stifle that.

Member #224, former director (nine years), former chair (three years).

In order to produce more qualified candidates for the national Board of Directors, having local Boards of Directors would help vet and train candidates.

Admittedly, I am presently unaware of MEC's decision-making structure.

more locally made products and more staff please

Democracy is an ongoing evolutionary challenge, not an inconvenience.

Member # 55106-9

Democracy has been slowly losing ground at this coop for many years now, as an employee I have seen the effects of this first hand. The quality of our products, and service have gone down. An employer that once took excellent care of it's employees has put policies in place that reduce the number of long term secure jobs in favor of short term contracts - increasing staff turnover (and by extension the average wage they pay the total of their employees).

Recent boards should be ashamed of itself these measures, and for taking the first insidious steps towards an authoritative regime.

The screening of board members is not co-operative. It stifles change and can be key in hiding errors and bad decisions. It is simply not democratic.

It is vital to the future of MEC that it develop a more engaged, transparent and diverse democratic structure.

Keep to the co-op principles!

MEC has forgotten what cooperatives are all about and it must be reminded. Coops are the antithesis of globalization and with coops we are drawing a line and saying NO to exploitation and YES to relocalization. We need board members who will commit to these principles and democratic values. Michael \\

In our current political and economic paradigm we need more co-ops, and the progressive, inclusive communities they generate, not a weakening of those we do have...