LeftHand Media Co-op

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LeftHand Media Co-op

Blog

Running With LeftHanded Scissors, Part two

In part one I told you about the moments of conception for LeftHand Media Co-op and in doing so laid out our basic principles and mission.

Today I’m going to start to describe the process we’ve undertaken to become a co-op and what the underlying reason may be for the added complexity of co-operative association registry.

If you want to become a corporation in British Columbia (the common non co-op kind), the process is quite simple and well established.  The entire process is completed online and is as follows.

  • Select a name and register it. 5 Days.
  • Adopt an incorporation agreement.  A fill in the blanks agreement is available online.  Total 13 pages, virtually guaranteed to be approved by the registry.
  • Create the company’s articles. Again a fill in the blanks agreement is available online.  Total 10 pages, virtually guaranteed to be approved by the registry.
  • File your application online with the Corporate Registry.  If you used the standard forms mentioned in steps 2 & 3 above approval should take 3 – 5 days.

Contrast that with the process for becoming a co-operative association.

  • Select a name and register it. 5 Days.
  • Write an incorporation agreement.  A form agreement is not available.  You must research similar agreement language, assemble it, explain it to your founding partners, approve and sign it and then send it to the registry for their opinion.  Approximately 70 pages.
  • Create the company’s articles. A form agreement is not available.  You must research similar agreement language, assemble it, explain it to your founding partners, approve and sign it and then send it to the registry for their opinion.  Total 10 pages.
  • File your application with the Corporate Registry by mail or in person in Victoria.  The registry will review your incorporation agreement and ask for revisions.  This process can go back and forth a couple of times until they are satisfied.  6 – 8 weeks.

So as you can see there is a significant difference in not only time but also accessibility and cognitive effort.

Maybe this is why the BC Corporate Registry states that there are approximately 325,000 active domestic corporations; 25,000 not-for-profit societies; 479,000 partnerships and proprietorships; and 550 cooperative associations in BC.

Tangentially, did you know that 2012 is the year of the co-op?

 “Co-operatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.”

– Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

But right now in Canada the Harper government has an entirely different perception of co-operative associations.  Right before the Conservative Government cancelled the Canadian Co-operative Development Initiative, Agriculture Minister Gary Ritz said the following in the House of Commons.

“With some 9,000 co-ops, 18 million members and some net worth of $350 billion or $360 billion, I think co-ops have a great foundation to continue this work on their own.”

Apparently the axing of the Canadian Co-operative Development Initiative netted a savings of approximately $4 million.

For a business format that has a 27% higher success rate if measured at the critical five year mark compared to conventional business models it seems that our government’s policies in this regard must be ideological and not economic or social.

To quote NDP Industry Critic Hélène Leblanc.

“It is pretty shameful how the Conservatives have treated Canada’s Co-operatives.  The canceling of the Canadian Co-operative Development Initiative and the scaling back of the Co-operatives Secretariat signals that the Conservatives are not interested in the long term success of this sector. And this in the UN International Year of Co-operatives!”

Peace & Solidarity,

Rob Hellenius