Business of Supply – Opposition Motion—Cooperatives

That, a special committee be appointed to consider the status of cooperatives in Canada and to make recommendations by: (a) identifying the strategic role of cooperatives in our economy; (b) outlining a series of economic, fiscal and monetary policies for strengthening Canadian cooperatives as well as for protecting the jobs they create; (c) exploring the issue of capitalization of cooperatives, its causes, effects and potential solutions; (d) exploring whether the Canada Cooperatives Act of 1998 requires updating; (e) identifying what tools the government can use to provide greater support and a greater role to Canadian cooperatives; and that the committee consist of twelve members which shall include seven members from the government party, four members from the Official Opposition and one member from the Liberal Party, provided that the Chair is from the government party; that in addition to the Chair, there be one Vice-Chair from each of the opposition parties; that the committee have all of the powers of a Standing Committee as provided in the Standing Orders, as well as the power to travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada, subject to the usual authorization from the House; that the members to serve on the said committee be appointed by the Whip of each party depositing with the Clerk of the House a list of his or her party’s members of the committee no later than June 8, 2012; that the quorum of the special committee be seven members for any proceedings, provided that at least a member of the opposition and of the government party be present; that membership substitutions be permitted to be made from time to time, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2); and that the Committee report its recommendations to this House no later than November 30, 2012.

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am concerned by the cuts, the loss of $4 million to the co-operative development initiative, particularly because 2012 is the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives.

We talk about economic development and the government’s economic action plan. I would appeal to the member that we use this opposition day debate to explore ways, through greater support and investment in the tools that help co-operatives and credit unions, to expand their operations. That expands job opportunities. That is part of an economic action plan. I would ask my hon. friend if there is not scope to support the motion today.

Mike Lake: Mr. Speaker, since the hon. member comes from a western riding, I will use the opportunity to talk about some of the investments that have been made through Western Economic Diversification.

The Bison Feeder Co-operative of Saskatchewan, Kronau Community Recreation Co-operative, Lucky Lake Co-operative Community Centre, High Prairie Seed Cleaning Co-op, which I mentioned earlier, Venables Valley Producers Co-op and the Farmers’ Markets Association of Manitoba co-op are significant examples of investments that have been made through WED with regard to co-operatives.

As I mentioned in my speech, there will continue to be programs that are available to co-operatives just like they are available to non-co-op enterprises through the Business Development Bank of Canada and through different regional development agencies.

Co-ops across the country can take advantage of those tremendous opportunities but, most important, they will be able to take advantage of one of the strongest economies in the developed world right in Canada.