Democracy and the Value of Cooperation: An open letter to MEC members

[This letter was originally published on]

The board of directors of Mountain Equipment Co-op has introduced a Special Resolution, requiring approval by at least 75% of voting members, that seeks to give the board power to choose which candidates appear on the nomination ballot according to criteria that the board itself defines. We are writing on behalf of scores of concerned MEC members across Canada, and we ask that all MEC members please read the following before deciding how to vote.

Why We Care

Along with 3.3 million other members, we don't just shop at MEC stores as consumers. When we step through the doors of our local MEC, we aren’t just looking for a new backpack, climbing shoes or tent—we're also there as part owners of the Co-op. And the fact that MEC is a co-op, that it represents a different way of doing business, is a big part of why we support it.

Mountain Equipment Co-op's members have made it what it is. Unlike other businesses that are primarily concerned with turning a profit for their shareholders, MEC exists solely to serve its members and to provide them with the gear to enjoy the outdoors. And as a member-owned co-operative, just by virtue of owning a share to make a purchase at MEC, members have the right to vote at elections and decide the direction of the Co-op. Because of the flexibility its co-op status affords and because of its members' support, MEC has been repeatedly recognized for leadership in reducing environmental impacts and making progress in ethically sourcing its products.

To us, MEC's democratic governance structure represents an inspiring glimpse into just how different things could be. If more of our economy were run democratically, attaining a truly just, sustainable, and equitable world would be that much closer to reality.

Let Members Decide

We believe that the members of MEC can and should choose the candidates who will best represent them, as members now do—not the board. We believe that the people who elect the board should define the criteria for candidates, first by nominating members that would be great directors, and then by voting for them. We think all of this should take place in the context of an open and transparent nomination and election process. In fact, we think that board elections at MEC should be among the most inspiring, participatory, open, and transparent elections in all of Canada.

Further, we believe that the change proposed by the board creates a serious conflict of interest for current board members. If the Special Resolution passes, it would become possible to stack the board with like-minded members, and to shut out anyone that thinks differently than the current board does. Regardless of how we feel about our current representatives, that's not an appropriate power for democratically elected directors.

Instead, we believe that MEC will thrive with a diversity of views, opinions, backgrounds, ideas, and desires represented on the board. Variety is also important because MEC members are all unique; the more diverse the board, the greater the likelihood that more of the Co-op's 3.3 million members are accurately represented.

Unfortunately, this Resolution doesn't foster diversity. It doesn't set a good example for how a member-owned co-op should be run. And it doesn't allow the people who are best able to decide who they would like to be represented by to choose their own representatives. Instead, it replaces the desires of members with the desires of the board, and it downgrades members from active participants in the co-op to mere consumers of its products.

That's not why we're members of the Co-op. We think MEC can do better than shifting power from three million members to just nine board members, and we ask all other members that feel the same way to go to and vote “no” to the Special Resolution.


[Affiliations for identification purposes only]

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  1. Dave Bleakney (National Union Representative, CUPW), Ottawa ON
  2. Michael Byerley (Former Team Leader, MEC Calgary), Calgary AB
  3. Brigette DePape (Rogue Page), Ottawa ON
  4. Michael Duncan (UBC Varsity Outdoor Club), Vancouver BC
  5. David Eby (Lawyer), Vancouver BC
  6. Nathan Gignac (former MEC staff), Calgary AB
  7. Len Goff (UBC Varsity Outdoor Club), Vancouver BC
  8. Steve Grant (Former MEC Director), Vancouver BC
  9. Berni Claus (Former Director and Vice-President, MEC), Bowen Island BC
  10. Barbara Lando (Former staff trainer, MEC), Vancouver BC
  11. Mark Latham (Founder,, Vancouver BC
  12. Abby Lippmann (Professor Emerita, McGill), Montreal QC
  13. Scott Nelson (British Columbia Mountaineering Club), Vancouver BC
  14. Judy Rebick (author and activist), Toronto ON
  15. Morrie Schneiderman (MEC Board Candidate), Iqaluit NU
  16. Albert Souza (BC Mountaineering Club), Vancouver BC
  17. Chris Sturgeon (former MEC employee), Whitehorse, YK
  18. Melissa Tan (UBC Varsity Outdoor Club), Vancouver BC
  19. Dru Oja Jay, Montreal QC
  20. Cathy Holtslander, Saskatoon SK
  21. Yuill Herbert, Tatamagouche NS
  22. Meghan McCarthy, St. Johns NL
  23. Malcolm Boothroyd, Whitehorse YK
  24. Sonia Grant, Halifax NS
  25. Amara Possian, Toronto ON
  26. Tasha Peters, Ottawa ON
  27. Karen Rooney, Saskatoon SK
  28. Cameron Fenton, Montreal QC
  29. Marie Bencze, Kingston ON
  30. Maryam Adrangi, Toronto ON
  31. Ellen Quigley, Saskatoon SK
  32. Tamara Micner, Vancouver BC
  33. Amanda Hachey, Moncton NB
  34. Monique Woolnough, Toronto ON
  35. Natasha Nancekivell, Toronto ON
  36. Roddy Doucet, Montreal QC
  37. Valerie Zink, Regina SK
  38. Hazel Corcoran, Calgary AB
  39. Tim McSorley, Montreal QC
  40. Dawn Paley, Vancouver BC
  41. Jesse Freeston, Montreal QC
  42. Dana Holtby, Montreal QC
  43. Emily Eaton, Regina SK
  44. Julie Strand Offerdal, Montreal QC
  45. Omar Bickell, Montreal QC
  46. Maude Prud'homme, Carleton-sur-Mer QC
  47. Fuad Abboud, Calgary AB
  48. Peter Garden, Saskatoon SK
  49. Melissa McCabe, Bar Harbour ME
  50. Tracey Mitchell, Saskatoon SK
  51. Alexander Oster, Montreal QC
  52. August Coombs, Tatamagouche NS
  53. Martin Lukacs, Montreal QC
  54. Rachel Engler-Stringer (PhD), Saskatoon SK
  55. Alexander Zaganas, Burnaby BC
  56. David Lowe, Vancouver BC
  57. Fred Cutler, Vancouver BC
  58. Hiromi Miyawaki, Vancouver BC
  59. John Sehmer, Vancouver BC
  60. John Spouge, Vancouver BC
  61. Kevin Torvik, Delta BC
  62. Naoya Makino, Vancouver BC
  63. Nelly Piechocki, Vancouver BC
  64. Errol Sharpe, Halifax NS
  65. Holly Nazar, Montreal QC
  66. Bradley Coleman, Vancouver BC
  67. Ruby Mawira, Vancouver BC
  68. Svetla Turnin, Montreal QC
  69. Joanna Brown, Moncton, NB
  70. David Mitchell, Regina SK
  71. Nik Barry-Shaw, Montreal QC
  72. Rebecca Foon, Montreal QC
  73. Daniel Simeone, Montreal QC
  74. Andrew Hayes, Fredericton, NB
  75. Murielle Arsenault, Vancouver, BC
  76. Jeremy Wildeman, Exeter UK
  77. Bruce Inglis, Vancouver BC
  78. Steffany Salloum, Regina SK
  79. Christian Veenstra, Vancouver BC
  80. Gili Rosenberg, Vancouver BC
  81. Bruno Godin, Vancouver BC
  82. Phil Tomlinson, Vancouver BC
  83. Marcin Mirski, Vancouver BC
  84. Michele Girash, London ON
  85. Michael Bednarski, Toronto ON
  86. Deb Duffy, Aylmer QC
  87. Len Vaness, Hamilton ON
  88. Edward Nixon, Toronto ON
  89. Ravi Joshi, Toronto ON
  90. Sebastian Mott, Ottawa ON
  91. Claire Abraham, Montréal QC
  92. Greg Farrants, Edmonton AB
  93. Dylan Penner, Ottawa ON
  94. Hilary Stead, Victoria BC
  95. Corina Crawley, Ottawa ON
  96. Scott Harris, Edmonton AB
  97. Hillary Lindsay, Tatamagouche NS
  98. Sea Austin, Huntsville ON
  99. David Wilson, Calgary AB
  100. Crystel Hajjar, Ottawa ON
  101. Mary Kathleen Barrett, Vancouver BC
  102. Cameron Stiff (Sierra Club of Canada), Montreal QC
  103. Seamus Wolfe, Ottawa ON
  104. Arun Smith, Ottawa ON
  105. Spencer Monckton, Ottawa ON
  106. Eryn Wheatley, Toronto ON
  107. Jesse Gutman, Toronto ON
  108. Chris Walker, Fredericton NB
  109. Amanda Wilson, Ottawa ON
  110. Jon Hunt, Ottawa ON
  111. Robyn Rees, Montreal QC
  112. Geneva Guerin, Montreal QC
  113. Jim Rootham, Toronto ON
  114. Kevin Walsh, Toronto ON
  115. Lake Sagaris, Toronto ON
  116. John Wasteneys, Halifax NS
  117. Matt Mayer, Calgary AB
  118. Sarah-Anne Hrycenko, Vancouver BC
  119. Alex Briggs, Montreal QC
  120. Dana Powell    Edmonton, AB
  121. Dominica McPherson, Guelph ON
  122. Ben Singleton-Polster, Vancouver BC
  123. Eric Doherty, Vancouver BC
  124. Dave Szollosy, Georgina ON
  125. Anne Roberts, Vancouver BC
  126. Marcia MacDonald, Vancouver BC
  127. Sasha Miguel, Montreal QC
  128. Toban Black, London ON
  129. Steve D'Arcy, London ON
  130. Tessa Vikander, Montreal QC
  131. Chris Jones, Ottawa ON
  132. Niels Kierulf, Montreal QC
  133. Alroy Fonseca, Ottawa ON
  134. Glennis O'Neill, Vernon BC
  135. Keetha Mercer, Montreal QC
  136. Oliver Kent, Ottawa ON
  137. Adrienne Berchtold, London ON
  138. Joanne Ovitsland, Hornby Island BC
  139. Frédéric Dubois, Montréal QC
  140. Sean O'Flynn-Magee, Vancouver BC
  141. Adam Hodgins, Gatineau QC
  142. Mordecai Briemberg, Burnaby BC
  143. Joe Chang, Ottawa ON
  144. James Onusko, Peterborough, ON
  145. Justin Guimond, Vancouver BC
  146. Yves Engler, Montreal QC
  147. Antony Hodgson, Vancouver BC
  148. Willem Bruce Krayenhoff, Vancouver BC
  149. Colette Aubin, North Vancouver BC
  150. Brian Campbell, Vancouver BC
  151. Nisha Nath, Edmonton AB
  152. Philippe Duhamel, Montreal QC
  153. Jeffrey W. Buchanan, London ON
  154. Peter Nelson, Halifax NS
  155. John MacFarlane, Montreal QC
  156. Owen Brush, Halifax NS
  157. William Lewis, Dartmouth NS
  158. Amy Miller, Montreal QC
  159. Megan Kinch, Toronto ON
  160. Daniel Parker, Montreal QC
  161. Nancy Hayne, Calgary AB
  162. George Pugh, Vancouver BC
  163. Justin Saunders, Toronto ON
  164. Amy Twigge-Molecey, Montreal QC
  165. Lise Vaugeois, Thunder Bay ON
  166. Trevor Darling, Barrie ON
  167. Anthony Fenton, Toronto ON
  168. Chris Albinati, Kamloops BC
  169. Kristyna Balaban, Toronto ON
  170. Vanessa Shannon, Montreal QC
  171. Gemma Richardson, London ON
  172. Amanda Dorter, Toronto ON
  173. Daniel Cayley-Daoust, Gatineau QC
  174. Alfred Larsen, Vancouver BC
  175. Kevin Huang, Toronto ON
  176. Deborah Cowen, Toronto ON
  177. Hélène Hamilton, Calgary AB
  178. Eric Savanis, Montreal QC
  179. Chrissy Lorette, Moncton NB
  180. Kaleigh McGregor-Bales, Halifax NS
  181. Râna Campbell, Montreal QC
  182. Susan Kasurak, Toronto ON
  183. Heather Andrachuk, Ottawa ON
  184. Helen Erickson, London ON
  185. Geoffrey Wilson, Toronto ON
  186. Fiona Becker, Shawnigan Lake BC
  187. Raphaële Frigon, Montreal QC
  188. james Partanen, Toronto ON
  189. Alia SAied, Halifax NS
  190. Jeff Taylor, Vancouver BC
  191. Allison Jacob, Montréal QC
  192. Karl Perrin, Burnaby BC
  193. Marcus Peterson, Edmonton AB
  194. Kyle Stanfield, Montreal QC
  195. Andrew Radzik, Vancouver BC
  196. Mick Bailey, North Vancouver BC
  197. Stuart Neatby, Vancouver BC
  198. Emily Sadowski, Vancouver BC
  199. Richard Hosein, Surrey BC
  200. Nic Cornell, Nelson BC
  201. Gerry Masuda, Duncan BC
  202. Daniel Tourigny, Victoria BC
  203. Riaz Behra, Vancouver BC
  204. Skyler Des Roches, Vancouver BC
  205. Toni Stiegelmar, Vancouver, BC
  206. Britt Wray, London ON
  207. erhard kraus, Toronto ON
  208. Christine Holman, Toronto ON
  209. John Bell, Toronto ON
  210. John Shellenberg, St. Albert AB
  211. Jocelyn Darou, Frelighsburg QC
  212. Jane Weller, North Vancouver BC
  213. Frank Stilson, London ON
  214. David E. Williams, Vancouver BC
  215. Edward Grant, Lethbridge AB
  216. Stephen Mulhall, Vancouver BC
  217. Jonathan Lefkowitz, Toronto ON
  218. Fraser Smith, Peterborough ON
  219. Valarie Hartling, Bruce Mines ON
  220. Ben Laurie, Prince George BC
  221. Janesse Leung, Toronto ON
  222. Moos van Caspel, Vancouver BC
  223. Jessica Denyer, Toronto ON
  224. Rob Hughes, Powell River BC
  225. Vince Hughes, Toronto ON
  226. Django Doucet, Montreal QC
  227. Roc Robertson, Mission BC
  228. Christopher Vaughn, Montreal QC
  229. Darren Alexander, Toronto ON
  230. Erynne Gilpin, London ON
  231. Mike Simons, Vancouver BC
  232. Mike Mitchell, Edmonton, AB
  233. Anne Kessler, Vancouver, BC
  234. Gillian Bubb, Vancouver BC
  235. H & M Phillips, London ON
  236. Joe Muething, Englehart ON
  237. Patricia Lavelle, Canmore AB
  238. Brenda Mason, Vancouver BC
  239. Carleen Pickard, Vancouver BC
  240. Patrick Adams, Edmonton AB
  241. Jonathan Ross, Vancouver BC
  242. Patrick Adams, Edmonton AB
  243. Daragh Hayes, London ON
  244. Louise Caroline Bergeron, Montréal/ Sept-Iles QC
  245. Dan Carey, Vancouver BC
  246. Alexander Pokluda, Kitchener ON
  247. Beth Davies, Vancouver BC
  248. D'Arcy Stainton, Vancouver BC
  249. John Rapp, Powell River BC
  250. Eveline van Haastert, Powell River BC
  251. Andrew Campbell, Vancouver BC
  252. Spencer Rasmussen, Vancouver BC
  253. Deborah Krasnicki, London ON
  254. Ariane Tisseur, Vancouver, BC
  255. David Heap, London ON
  256. Travis Frampton, London ON
  257. Jesse Klingler, Montreal QC
  258. Rebekah Hart, Montreal QC
  259. Kaley Kennedy, Halifax NS
  260. Jazmin Papadopoulos, Winnipeg MB
  261. Scott Tebbutt, Vancouver BC
  262. Andrea Summers, Montreal QC
  263. Steve Torgerson, Regina SK
  264. Brian Lauscher, Saskatoon SK
  265. Gerry Desmet, Victoria BC
  266. Andrew Johnson, Saskatoon SK
  267. Yvette Yardanoff, Vancouver BC
  268. Mark Bigland-Pritchard, Saskatoon SK
  269. Peter Rothermel, Qualicum Beach BC
  270. Omri Haiven, Halifax NS
  271. Mark Haden, Vancouver BC
  272. Alan Friend, Nelson BC
  273. Chris Sturgeon, Whitehorse YK
  274. Barbara Lando, Vancouver BC
  275. James Deutsch, Toronto ON
  276. Kathy Cody, Vancouver BC
  277. Alain D. Vater, Vancouver BC
  278. Tim Groves, Toronto ON
  279. Andrew Escobar, Toronto ON
  280. Macdonald Stainsby, Vancouver BC
  281. Rob Hershorn, Vancouver BC
  282. Joey Dubuc
  283. Joe Bowser, Vancouver BC
  284. Richard St-Pierre, Saskatoon SK
  285. Brian Wong, Vancouver BC
  286. Pam Bookham, North Vancouver BC
  287. Dianne Goldberg, Halfmoon Bay BC
  288. Robyn Fadden, Montreal QC
  289. Kyall Glennie, Regina SK
  290. Kevin Harding, Burnaby BC
  291. Robert Danielson, Vancouver BC
  292. J. B. Staniforth, Montreal QC
  293. David Bruce, Kelowna BC
  294. Graham Anderson, Vancouver BC
  295. Enda Brophy, Vancouver BC
  296. Bérenger Enselme, Montréal QC
  297. Marie-Eve Nault, Montreal QC
  298. Reg Glennie, Wadena SK
  299. Edwin Rowan, Vancouver BC
  300. Patrick Johnson, Vancouver BC
  301. Katherine Dunster, Denman Island BC
  302. Bonnie Wong, Vancouver BC
  303. Elvy Del Bianco, Vancouver BC
  304. Janet Cotgrave, Halfmoon Bay
  305. Tara Parson, Vancouver, BC
  306. Paul Sigmundson, Halfmoon Bay
  307. Rory Stevens, Maple Ridge
  308. Lisa Barrett, Bowen Island BC
  309. Mahara Sinclaire, Mission BC
  310. Wayne Ellwood, Toronto ON
  311. Robb Breckinridge, Vancouver BC
  312. Eva Sharell, Vancouver BC
  313. Cynthia Flood, Vancouver BC
  314. Sara Pou, Vancouver BC
  315. William Bell, Victoria BC
  316. Wendy Shaw, Toronto ON
  317. Deborah M Stover, Halifax NS
  318. Karen Johnson, Toronto ON
  319. Kristine Atwood, Dartmouth NS
  320. David Jerome, St. John's NL
  321. Iinda van Vulpen, Halifax NS
  322. Adam Chisholm, Toronto ON
  323. Yolanda Tsangarakis, Pitt Meadows BC
  324. Alex Yates, North Vancouver BC
  325. Marisa Orth-Pallavicini, Vancouver BC
  326. Catherine Welsh, Vancouver BC
  327. Caelie Frampton, Vancouver BC
  328. Peter Driftmier, Vancouver BC
  329. Grayden Part, Edmonton, AB
  330. Arsalan Hassan, Coquitlam
  331. Andrew Longhurst, Vancouver BC
  332. Don Flemming, Halifax NS
  333. Colleen Blake, Halifax NS
  334. David L Driftmier, Calgary AB
  335. David Maidman, Vancouver, BC
  336. Tom Silver, Halifax NS
  337. Philippe Roy, Montréal QC
  338. Geneviève Paré, Calgary AB
  339. Karianne Blank, Vancouver BC
  340. Grant Neufeld, Calgary AB
  341. Trevor Chow-Fraser, Guelph ON
  342. Stephen Elliott-buckley, Vancouver BC
  343. Jeff Nield, Nelson BC
  344. Suzanne Moul, Burnaby BC
  345. Wendy Holm, Bowen Island BC
  346. Cynthia Dezso, Ile Perrot QC
  347. Jen Toth, Edmonton AB
  348. Jamie Maclaren, Vancouver BC
  349. Jayne Hardy, Vancouver BC
  350. Emilie Novaczek, Halifax NS
  351. Catherine Zink, Calgary AB
  352. Fuad Abboud, Calgary AB
  353. Vicki Perkins, Calgary AB
  354. Mariette Dumas, Montreal QC
  355. Sheryl Psiuk, Halifax NS
  356. Diane Janzen, Calgary AB
  357. Christopher V, Calgary AB
  358. Ewout de Vries, Calgary AB
  359. Selena Gignac, Calgary AB
  360. Lyse Boyce, Halifax NS
  361. Jalal Kawash, Calgary AB
  362. Charles Latimer, Montreal QC
  363. Aron Zahradka, Vancouver BC
  364. Rory MacIntosh, Bowen Island BC
  365. Gord Betenia, West Vancouver BC
  366. Haida A, Vancouver BC
  367. Judith Deutsch, Toronto ON
  368. Kim Leduc, Dunham QC
  369. Raphael Beaulieu, Toronto ON
  370. Alison Crysler, Vancouver BC
  371. Andrea Gorgec, North Vancouver BC
  372. Rod Akizuki, Vancouver BC
  373. Martin Stock, Vancouver BC
  374. Suzanne Joyal, Edmonton AB
  375. Charles Killam, Vancouver BC
  376. Lucille Beauchemin, Montréal QC

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