Congratulations to the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF) for 75 years of cooperative development in Canada and around the world. During my nine-year tenure as Executive Director of the Canadian Co-operative Association and CDF Canada.
We were a strong mechanism for raising domestic funds to leverage and compliment Government of Canada funds administered through the Canadian International Development Agency.
Success in Canada and abroad
CDF was successful in this regard and also served to create a more direct connection between members of cooperatives across Canada and projects worldwide. One of the big questions that surfaced during my time was, “if we can raise funds for co-operative development projects around the world, can we not also raise funds for the development of cooperatives in Canada?”
The answer was yes. This became a reality at the time and further strengthened the direct connection between Canadian cooperatives and the work of CDF. There were so many success stories at that time it is impossible to focus on any one of them, but I think in times like today, the work of CDF is vital in continuing to support and develop democratic institutions at the base.
This type of work permeates democracy through many levels of government in a country up to the senior levels of government. If you look at countries where cooperatives have been developed, you can see evidence of democracy, including right here in Canada.
In Canada, cooperative members have become elected members at the civic, provincial, territorial, and national levels. I would cite Nunavut as a particular example where I have seen names of members I met in local cooperatives rising to the elected government of this part of Canada over the years. Cooperatives will continue to play an important role in building democracy at the grassroots level around the world and here in Canada, and I wish CDF another successful 75 years.