43rd Convention (2012)

Co-ops: An Exercise in Democracy

November 22nd to 24th, 2012

Hilton Garden Inn Downtown
90 – 22nd Street East
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The theme of this year’s Convention was Co-ops: An Exercise in Democracy. 2012 was declared the International Year of Co-operatives by the United Nations. The NFU recognized this by presenting information and inviting discussion of co-operatives at our national convention. We took a look at the potential for co-ops to act as accessible and democratic alternatives to corporations in our increasingly “super-sized” and globally-focussed economy. Our speakers helped us critically examine co-operatives, and looked at some of the lessons learned from the past as well as from successful food and farm-related co-ops from across Canada today.

Program Highlights and Speaker Biographies

Thursday, November 22

Co-op Development (9:30 am)

Fred Khonje will lead a workshop on how – and why — to start a co-operative. The workshop will provide practical information about how co-ops work, how they are different from other business structures, the role of co-op principles, and how decision-making works in a democratically-run business. Fred will also offer examples of many different kinds of co-ops, such as machinery co-ops, marketing co-ops and worker co-ops, providing a glimpse into the wide range of purposes and situations where co-ops are an effective way to engage in both the community and the economy.

If you think a co-op might be the right way to organize your business – or if you belong to a co-op and would like to become a more active member, plan to attend this session.

Fred KhonjeFrederick Khonje is the Co-operative Development Officer at the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association and is responsible for promoting the co-operative business model to government, the business community and the general public. He is the main contact and provider of co-operative advisory services, and assists emerging and existing co-operatives in Saskatchewan in their development process. Fred has considerable professional experience working with non-profit organizations and in government.

Process Democracy: How We Make Policy in the NFU (11:00 am)

This workshop will provide an appreciation and understanding of parliamentary procedure as a necessary and fundamental democratic tool and will build the skills and confidence to actively participate at NFU Convention. It will also look specifically at the use of parliamentary procedure at NFU Conventions, the roles and responsibilities of the Resolution Committee, Steering Committee and the Chair, and develop awareness of some of the nuances of process. This workshop will be very useful if this is your first Convention, or if you have questions about how decision-making works in the organization.

Cory OllikkaCory Ollikka is a 4th generation farmer from Waskatenau, Alberta. He operates an organic grain and beef cattle farm as well as holding an off-farm job in Municipal Government. Cory has held numerous positions at the District, Regional and National levels of the NFU since 1986 and was the NFU’s 7th National President from 1998-2001. Cory Ollikka and Karen Pedersen, NFU Convention co-chairs.

Karen PedersenKaren Pedersen is a 5th generation honey producer from Cut Knife, Saskatchewan. She farms collectively on a small family farm with her extended family. She was past Youth President and Women’s President of the NFU. Cory and Karen have helped chair several NFU Conventions.

PANEL: Co-op Types - Forms, Functions and Principles (1:45 pm)

Realizing the Co-operative Advantage: Co-ops and Durable Rural Economy

Michael GertlerMichael Gertler is Associate Professor in Sociology and as a Fellow in Community and Co-operative Development at the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives and a board member with the Community-University Institute for Social Research. His research focuses on co-operative roles in sustainable regional development. He teaches rural sociology and community sociology, and co-operatives and international development. His research experience has included studies of organic and conventional farms in the US Midwest, machinery co-operatives in Saskatchewan, the processing vegetable industries of New York and Ontario, and co-ops in rural Costa Rica and Mongolia. Recently he has served as the program chair for Co-operating to Build a Better West, a conference celebrating the International Year of Co-operatives.

The Mondragon Co-op System

Yuill HerbertYuill Herbert is a founder, member and director of Sustainability Solutions Group Workers Co-operative. Yuill has worked on sustainability consulting projects in the spheres of community planning, sustainability assessments and green buildings. Yuill serves as a director of the boards of the Canada Research Chair on Sustainable Community Development, Tatamagouche Community Land Co-operative, Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation and the Canadian Co-operative Association.

Multi-stakeholder Co-ops

April BourgeoisApril Bourgeois has been involved in cooperative community economic development strategies in Saskatoon and Regina for over two decades as the Publisher of two worker-owned city-magazines, Planet S in Saskatoon and Prairie Dog magazine in Regina. She is a founding director of Hullabaloo Publishing Workers Cooperative and of Co-op Ventures, and a founding member of Supporting Employment and Economic Development Regina (SEED Regina). She is past President of the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation and represented Canada for 8 years as a director of CICOPA, the world worker co-operative federation.

Agriculture and The New Servitude (7:00 PM - Public Event, free of charge)

Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning Canadian journalist who has written about education, economics, and the environment for the past two decades. His work has appeared in a variety of Canadian publications including The Walrus, Maclean’s, Canadian Business, Report on Business, Chatelaine, Georgia Straight and Harrowsmith. Nikiforuk’s books include Pandemonium, Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig’s War against Oil, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, The Fourth Horseman: A Short History of Plagues, Scourges and Emerging Viruses and Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug are Killing North America’s Great Forests. His book Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent won several awards, including the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award, and became a national bestseller. His journalism has won seven National Magazine Awards and top honours for investigative writing from the Association of Canadian Journalists. Nikiforuk lives with his family in Calgary, Alberta. Whether speaking or writing about melting glaciers, peak oil, the destruction of the boreal forest, or bark beetle outbreaks, Nikiforuk has earned a reputation as an honest and provocative voice in Canadian journalism.

Friday, November 23

PANEL: The Attack on Seed Saving (9:00 am)

PANEL: The Attack on Seed Saving (9:00 am)
UPOV ’91… Again

Terry BoehmTerry Boehm has had a long involvement with the NFU, having served for many years on the Board of Directors as Vice President, and now as President. Prior to that, he was Chair of the NFU’s Transportation Committee. He has been analyzing legislation, trade agreements, government papers and reports, academic journals and reports and corporate data as part of his work for the NFU. He has developed a keen interest and expertise in rail transport legislation, international trade, biotechnology, intellectual property issues (mainly as they relate to seed), seed legislation and variety registration systems in Canada. Terry graduated from the University of Saskatchewan where he studied History, Economics and Political Science. He farms 4,000 acres with his parents 70 kilometers southeast of Saskatoon.

US Seed Regulations and American Farmers

Speaker TBA

ADDRESS: A Farmer’s Perspective on Supply Management (10:00 am)

Randall AffleckRandall Affleck lives in Lower Bedeque, Prince Edward Island with his wife Jackie and their two children Katie and Regan. Randall and his brother Alex operate a 300-acre dairy farm milking 55 registered Holsteins, Ayrshires and Guernseys. They crop barley for on-farm use and have a small acreage of certified organic grains and soybeans.Randall has been a Director on the Dairy Farmers of PEI board for ten years and chaired the organization in 2001 and 2002. Randall has been a member of the National Farmers Union since 1990. He has had the privilege of serving on the NFU National Executive and Board and as District Director for District 1, Region 1.

PANEL: Weathering the Storm: Leadership, Resilience and Democratic Control (1:30 pm)
Are Co-operatives Democratic?

Are Co-ops Democratic?

Kyle KorneychukKyle Korneychuk is a farmer from the Pelly area and has been farming since the age of 17, growing a wide variety of crops. He has been involved in many farm and community organizations and has represented provincial and federal governments on national agriculture and environmental committees. Kyle has been a farm activist in supporting community organizations which have opposed rail line abandonment and elevator consolidation. He has also been instrumental in assisting several communities in purchasing local elevators and establishing loading facilities in these points. Kyle has seen the positive progress and economic results farmers can attain when they work together and he advocates this position at every opportunity.

Education and Training, Their Importance for the Success of a Co-operative

Harold Chapman grew up on farms near Saskatoon and Meskanaw, Saskatchewan. He has a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan and an MSc in Co-operative Extension Education from the University of Wisconsin. He worked for the Department of Co-operation and Co-operative Development as an Extension Specialist and Director (including three years on leave with the Royal Commission on Agriculture and Rural Life); eighteen years with the Co-operative College of Canada as Principal and Program Director; and nine years with Federated Co-operatives Limited with responsibility for member and elected official development. He was active as a member and on the board of the Canadian Association for Adult Education. He was a founding member and past president of the Association and Cooperative Educators and has served on numerous boards and committees in the communities in which he has lived. Harold has contributed chapters to two books: The Contemporary Director, a handbook for elected officials of co-operatives, credit unions and other organizations, and Dignity and Growth: Citizen Participation in Social Change.

When Good Co-ops Fail – the Dairyland Story

Wendy HolmWendy Holm is an agrologist, columnist, and author whose outspoken columns in defense of Canada’s farmers and sustainable public policy for our farm sector have won several national journalism awards. She was an editor and contributing author of the book Water and Free Trade (1988). She is the recipient of several awards for achievement and service for her work as a writer and as an agrologist working in support of farmers.

Saturday, November 24

PANEL: Implications of Trade Deals for Democracy and Economy (9:45 am)

CETA and the End of Canadian Sovereignty

Terry BoehmTerry Boehm has had a long involvement with the NFU, having served for many years on the Board of Directors as Vice President, and now as President. Prior to that, he was Chair of the NFU’s Transportation Committee. He has been analyzing legislation, trade agreements, government papers and reports, academic journals and reports and corporate data as part of his work for the NFU. He has developed a keen interest and expertise in rail transport legislation, international trade, biotechnology, intellectual property issues (mainly as they relate to seed), seed legislation and variety registration systems in Canada. Terry graduated from the University of Saskatchewan where he studied History, Economics and Political Science. He farms 4,000 acres with his parents 70 kilometers south east of Saskatoon.

Trade Treaties, Democracy and the Future of Canadian Agriculture

Scott SinclairScott Sinclair is a senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, where he directs the centre’s Trade and Investment Research Project. He has advised several Canadian provincial and territorial governments on trade policy matters, including five years as a senior policy advisor to the Government of British Columbia. He is the author of many publications on a wide range of trade policy issues, including Threatened Harvest: Protecting Canada’s World-Class Grain System (with Jim Grieshaber-Otto) and Putting Health First: Canadian Health Care Reform, Trade Treaties and Foreign Policy (with Matthew Sanger), a study prepared for the Romanow Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada. Scott lives in rural Prince Edward Island.

PANEL: CWB Court Cases, the Rule of Law and Democracy (11:45 am)

Getting to the Truth

Stewart Wells was born and raised on the third-generation family farm near Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and he returned to the farm after receiving a Bachelor of Engineering degree in 1976. He and his partner, Terry, operate Penny Lane Organic Farms Ltd. which is comprised of 3500 acres with approximately 2500 cultivated. Their conversion to organic farming started in 1991. Since 1990, Stewart has served four years as a farmer-elected Delegate to Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, 12 years on the Board of the National Farmers Union (with eight of those years as President), one year as a farmer-elected member on the Board of the Canadian Wheat Board. He is currently Chair of the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Bill C-18 and the Rule of Law

Arthur ShaferArthur Schafer is Director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, at the University of Manitoba and a Full Professor in the Department of Philosophy. He has published widely in the fields of moral, social, and political philosophy. He is author of The Buck Stops Here: Reflections on moral responsibility, democratic accountability and military values, and co-editor of Ethics and Animal Experimentationand has published numerousscholarly articles and book chapters covering a wide range of topics, with a special focus on issues in professional and bio-medical ethics, business and environmental ethics. Professor Schafer is National Research Associate of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and has been a frequent guest on radio and television discussing ethical and value aspects of medicine, science and technology.

PANEL: Co-ops Putting Food Sovereignty into Action (2:00 pm)

Kootenay Country Store Co-operative: 37 Years as a Sustainable Food System Catalyst

Abra BrynneAbra Brynne is an agriculture and food systems consultant who has worked closely with farmers for more than twenty years. Abra grew up on a farm in BC’s Okanagan Valley, giving her an early appreciation for co-operative marketing, great food, and farm-raised meat, among many other important food systems lessons. Over the past 22 years she has been closely involved with one of North America’s most successful natural foods co-ops, allowing her to develop an intimate understanding of alternative markets, consumers, producers and distribution systems. As President of the Kootenay Co-op for more than five years, she has focused on building strong governance on the Board to better equip them for a large expansion project. Abra brings an enthusiasm and passion for food systems work rooted in her belief that thriving farms and food sovereignty are our future.

The Little Engine That Could: the Good Food Junction Co-operative Brings Groceries Back to Saskatoon’s Core

Janice Sanford BeckJanice Sanford Beck is a founding board member of the Good Food Junction Co-operative grocery store and served as president for most of the past six years. She is delighted that this fall — nearly a decade after the original business plan was completed! — the store opened its doors to the public.

Muskoday Organic Growers Co-op

Harvey Knight is President of the Muskoday Organic Growers Co-op (MOGC), located in the Muskoday First Nation, Saskatchewan. MOGC aims to explore, reclaim and revitalize the community’s Indigenous heritage in the production of Indigenous food crops, and to create a culturally and ecologically sustainable local economy through the practice of both modern and traditional farming methods originating in the Americas. Harvey believes that culture, the economy, and the natural environment need to be recognized and observed as interdependent and reciprocal forces in our daily lives. He participates in many ceremonial activities and events and continues to work with knowledgeable Cree and Saulteaux elders in writing and publishing books and articles on Indigenous culture and history.

Farmer Direct Co-op

Farmer Direct LogoJason Freeman is the General Manager of Farmer Direct Co-op, the first organization in North America to be certified to domestic fair trade standards.In January of 2011, Farmer Direct Co-op become the first organization in North America to launch a food brand that is 100% Farmer-Owned,100% Organic and 100% Fair Trade. Farmer Direct Co-operative has grown to 63 family farm member-owners from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba with over $4million in annual sales and customers in the European Union, United States, Japan and Canada.