activist notes

Canadian Coalition for Fair Trade, First National General Meeting – Minutes for Nov 1, 2008 by activistnotes
June 27, 2009, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Fair Trade, Fair Trade Canada | Tags: ,

First General Meeting of the Canadian Coalition for Fair Trade

November 1, 2008, Afternoon session


Mission Statement


The lunch-time working group brings forward the following proposal for a mission statement with several points of discussion to addressed:

“We, the members of CCFT, are (committed to) building a democratic and solidarity-based (network/movement) engaging the public (as citizens and consumers / as citizens, consumers, and workers) in order to promote global economic (and social) justice and sustainable development through the (expansion/deepening) of Fair Trade in Canada (working with partners internationally).”



What happened to the “alleviate / eliminate” poverty statement?

Could we not open with “The mission of the CCFT is to build”?


A more concise version of the mission statement is proposed:

“CCFT aims to promote and strengthen FT as a sustainable economic model through networking and advocacy.”


Motion to discuss concise proposal in favour of the lunch’s working group proposal. Motion seconded.

All in favour.


Motion to amend “networking and advocacy” to “networking, advocacy, and public engagement”. Motion seconded.

35 in favour. 3 abstentions.


Motion to amend “aims” to “works”. Motion seconded.

36 in favour. 1 dissention. 1 abstention.


Points of clarification: The membership will be defined. FT will be defined.


Motion to approve the mission statement as previously amended: “CCFT works to promote and strengthen FT as a sustainable economic model through networking, advocacy, and public engagement.” Motion seconded.


Motion to amend “sustainable economic model” to “sustainable economic and social model”. Not accepted as a friendly amendment because social impact of FT included in definition.


Call to vote on the motion that is on the floor.

37 in favour. 1 abstention.



Discussion about Structure

– Membership

– Volunteer vs. staff

– Incorporation vs. non-incorporation and affiliation with an NGO

– Board, committee structures


Question: To what level is TransFair Canada already filling the functions foreseen for the coalition and is it possible for any of the functions to be housed within TransFair Canada?


Response: It is important to note that the role of TransFair Canada is about third-party certification and auditing. TransFair Canada has a responsibility to protect the integrity of this certification in the interests of its licensees. Any question of expanding this role would have to respond to licensee interests and the TransFair Canada Board.


Of the survey respondents, 70% supported the structure that was proposed; 90% supported volunteer time; 12% supported financial support.


Point of clarification: We could perhaps see stronger response for financial support once we show results from the weekend that include a commitment to action.


Type of organization:

Are we comfortable being a coalition?

All in favour of organizing as a coalition (une coalition).


Who are our members?

– It’s important to define our membership in a way that does not open us up to dilution or co-optation

– Maybe we could identify caucuses?

– How do we define voting rights?


Rationale for affiliation as opposed to independent incorporation: Would allow for speedier movement into action as opposed to spending lots of time on technicalities of incorporation, smaller outlay of resources at beginning.


Is there an organization in mind?

CCIC could be approached


Question: Should we not re-direct the discussion to priorities? Clear and specific actions are what make coalitions work.





Intermission: Wall of Achievement


Equita: Coordination by Equiterre of National Fair Trade Weeks in Quebec, materials and support offered by TransFair Canada for NFTWs

Fair Trade Manitoba: paid for polling of Manitobans, 3 questions ($1000 a question). Do people understand Fair Trade? Only 44% were not sure. 73% said they when shopping they felt it was important or somewhat important to purchase a labeled Fair Trade item. 11% said they purchased FT products weekly, 24% purchased FT products monthly.

Fair Trade Manitoba: working with Manitoba government on procurement policies

Fair Trade Manitoba: 3rd annual One Month Challenge will begin on Feb 14th 2009 (1,000 participants in 2008); 5,000 participants targeted for this year

TransFair Canada: Reverse Trick-or-Treating campaign to promote FT chocolate in partnership with WUSC and EWB; 30,000 FT chocolates distributed coast to coast for the program; very popular campaign, ran out of chocolate kits before the deadline

TransFair Canada: Fair Trade Towns: 2 recognized; 4 to 5 in process; 30 to 35 getting started

EWB: recently committed to a 3-year outreach plan with Fair Trade as a key element of in-Canada work; current accomplishments: conversations 2 min or longer with 30,000 Canadians about Fair Trade; success in converting workplaces to serving FT coffee; goals: broadening workplace program to reaching 500,000 employees; campus program to get Fair Trade procurement in universities; goal with individual outreach is to talk to 500,000 Canadians in next 3 years

Planet Bean: Fair Trade cotton project in collaboration with Social Economy Program at York University

Research developments: in addition to FT cotton work at York, Gavin Fridell (Trent) is researching FT bananas; Darryl Reed (York) researching purchasing policies; UQAM also undertaking significant research in Fair Trade

Equiterre: coordinating efforts for NFTWs in QC as well as deliberately working to bring together FT actors in QC; campaign on FT chocolate in collaboration with Equita and La Siembra; will be shortly launching a guide on responsible clothing and ethical fashion; promoting Fair Trade bananas in QC

JUDES: school-based curriculum development in Nova Scotia, objective to reach 90% of grade 8 graduates; general public outreach and grassroots educational programs; research on ethical purchasing decisions in collaboration with Social Economy network; FT-tourism projects in collaboration with UCIRI

FTF: resource development on how to bring FT into churches, schools, homes, weddings; resources on how to begin a FT business; 2nd conference for FT businesses coming up in Portland OR, objectives are to strengthen capacity and address issues within the movement

TransFair Canada: reduction of barriers on entry into Canada of FT products labeled by other national initiatives provided that the labeling NI will share reporting information;

Just Us!: sent 9 of its employees on a delegation to meet and connect with FT coffee farmers in Chiapas.  More similar trips being planned by JUDES; Fair Trade Museum very successful; Coffee Comes Alive video produced as an educational tool and this is now being used in Nova Scotia school system

Aide medicale Palestine: importing olive oil from Palestinian producers.  However, still doesn’t find FT movement very networked/supportive, quite isolated actions happening.  Question: will the FT movement be able to represent the different types of FT products and equally represent all of the people working in FT despite the disparate resources of different actors?

Office of Peter Julian, M.P. (NDP): Integrating FT principles into NDP positioning on international trade agreements; working to coordinate legislative agendas with U.S. and Mexican representatives so that there are coordinated demands and a joint platform for renegotiation of NAFTA; this is closely linked to the NDP’S work to stop the Security and Prosperity Partnership



Return to Discussion about Structure


Those meeting decide that it is preferable to address organizational development before moving to a discussion of the areas of action.




Lessons learned from Make Poverty History coalition leads to following proposals

– Only organizations can be admitted to voting membership; individuals can be supporting/affiliate members who can observe but not vote

– Until additional definitions for membership developed, steering committee responsible for approving membership between meetings


Lessons learned from IFAT

– members are organizations who are actively involved in Fair Trade (actors who trade or NGOs who support FT in their activities)

– early on, there was an informal attempt to maintain representation of regions, gender, etc. on steering committee and over time formal mechanisms have evolved to ensure this



– Create caucuses

– There should be a minimum requirement of time and money as a condition of membership

– Steering committee: representative of regions, caucuses (if decided on) or sectors, gender



– how do we engage producer groups in our structure?

– point of clarification: extensive discussions on this point in Montreal; at the time it was felt that our efforts needed to be focused on internally building our organization before we could engage in meaningful peer dialogue with coalitions of producer organizations

– could we not approach this issue by making a commitment as members to share information on the coalition with producer partners and solicit feedback over an initial period of time to determine if producer organizations feel there is a role that they should play within our coalition?

– we could reserve a caucus for producer organizations and if we reach a point in our work that interests producer orgs we would have clear mechanisms for producer representation, engagement


There is general agreement that we will move forward with organizational development along the following lines:


Type of organization:

–          Unincorporated organization

–          Contracting with a  host organization that has legal and financial responsibilities


Governance Structure:

–          Governed and managed by a steering committee of 7-10 people

–          It is important that the steering committee be as representative as possible (particularly with respect to sectoral  & regional differences)

–          For the moment, the steering committee will be selected based on who volunteers, and if there are more than 7 volunteers we could hold a vote

–          Steering Committee is accountable to the host organization


Steering Committee:

–          Manage operational plan

–          Liaise with caucuses and committees and evaluate proposals from the committees

–          Appoint a Chair who will be the key liaison to the host organization

–          Organize member meetings as necessary

–          Hire staff and contractors as needed


Membership Structure:

–          Organizations will be the voting members of the coalition

  • Strike a task force that will further develop the details of membership criteria and contribution (financial, in-kind) for CCFT

–          Individuals will be associated non-voting members


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