If Homer Stevens had been around and he learned the Gulf and Fraser Fishermen’s Credit Union (now G&F Financial) contributed more than five thousand dollars to BC Liberals, the labour leader’s voice would have been raised. Had he seen a complete listing of credit union donations to Christy Clark’s gang, Stevens’ roar would have echoed across the Gulf of Georgia.
In the Vancouver Sun, Stephen Hume described Homer Stevens:
Gritty labour leader, proud civil libertarian, fearless political activist, passionate warrior for social justice, revered fisherman, environmentalist before the term was invented, devoted husband, father and grandfather, Homer Stevens has been described as the epitome of the truly indigenous British Columbian.
He sprang from the rugged landscape itself and came to represent the fusion of cultures that is the emerging future of this province. He braved the dangers of the restless Pacific to wrest a living from its resources, stayed true to his conscience and kept faith with his political ideals when others reviled him for those beliefs.
Journalist Terry Glavin called Stevens a “boyhood hero.”
Credit unions emerged from the cooperative movement during the Great Depression. An initial promoter of the concept was Burnaby’s Common Good Co-operative Association but the first recognized by the Province (1939) was the Powell River Credit Union (now First Credit Union), where a little boy I’ve known my whole life opened a savings account in 1956, using proceeds of a $2 dollar a month newspaper delivery enterprise.
Credit unions originally served people that banks underserved. While the member owned organizations have evolved to act more like their large competitors, the movement returns profits to the community at a rate it claims is six times that of the five largest chartered banks.
The best of the credit unions offer other advantages. Remember when we called the Royal Bank a jobs exporter:
…the bank will be terminating Canadian staff who are training temporary foreign workers to take over their jobs. This is like the condemned being forced to clean and load weapons for their firing squad….
Taking a different approach to Canadian needs, VanCity initiated a program that guaranteed every employee would earn at least a living wage, an amount that is more than double the province’s minimum wage.
Frankly, I was surprised at the amount of money contributed by credit unions to the ruling party. Coast Capital, the largest individual donor had this explanation:
Sure, they also buy favours for the decision makers. Former Coast Capital CEO Tracy Redies is now a Liberal candidate and a member of the paid-to-play patronage brigade, having served on the boards of BC Hydro and University of Victoria and as a member of the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council.
Coast Capital didn’t respond to this Twitter item:
If we have reached the point where a member-owned organization with $14 billion in assets must pay tens of thousands of dollars to “connect with MLAs” and be heard by government, this province is worse off than even I realized.
If the money Coast Capital contributes to Liberals is intended to buy favours for the company’s leadership, the credit union is worse off than its members realize.
The $400 contribution by VanCity shown above was made in 2005 and the organization has had a long standing policy to avoid contributing members’ funds to political parties. This is from their Twitter feed today:
VanCity has $20 billion in assets so is larger than Coast Capital and more profitable, despite paying a significantly higher percentage of operating profits for salaries and benefits.
Those numbers appear to shoot a hole in Coast Capital’s explanation.
Categories: Political Financing