activist notes

Canadian Coalition for Fair Trade, First National General Meeting – Minutes for Nov 2, 2008 by activistnotes
June 27, 2009, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Fair Trade, Fair Trade Canada | Tags: ,

First General Meeting of the Canadian Coalition for Fair Trade

November 2, 2008, Morning session



Organizational Development


There is general agreement that we will develop the organization 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 representational 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 or 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



1) Who are our voting members?



– those who are active in Fair Trade or who show a demonstrable commitment to Fair Trade (e.g. NGOs engaged in campaigning)

– this could be difficult, different kinds of members could have very different ways of demonstrating commitment

– we need to be sure we are welcoming of orgs that are like-minded (e.g. teachers’ unions, CCA, etc.)

– suggestion: working in Fair Trade for at least one year (could be observing members)

– commitment to a set of values or code of ethics

– this is questionable, as it could lead the coalition into a policing or accreditation role

– once identified, our actions will create a self-selection process for members

– if we are going to undertake political action, though, we need to have a clear understanding of who our members are

– what are the responsibilities of members?

– if we’re a Canadian coalition, are we admitting only Canadian organizations?

– we should remain non-partisan (i.e., not have political parties as members), so that the coalition maintains its autonomy and is perceived as autonomous

– Question: can we not say that all orgs who are committed to our mission and accepted by the steering committee are members?

– Question: are we a coalition of Fair Trade actors or a coalition of actors who support Fair Trade?

– should we not say that actors who support Fair Trade can be affiliate members and that voting members are those who are active in Fair Trade?


Areas of agreement

Voting membership criteria:

Organizations who

– support the Coalition’s mission, values and definition of Fair Trade (once defined)

– show a demonstrable commitment to Fair Trade

– undertake the responsibilities required of members


Carmen Iezzi, Jacqui MacDonald, Jean-Frédéric Lemay, Hillary Vipond, JJ McMurty volunteer to work on developing membership criteria for submission to steering committee and for subsequent circulation to the larger group



2) Structure


– caucus model: sectoral groupings

– committee model: thematic groupings






Traders, retailers, wholesalers



–  Tentatively: Advocacy, Public Engagement, and Networking, but this could be refined once we prioritize the coalitions’ actions

– Can only voting members be on committees? To be defined by membership criteria committee



3) What are we going to do?


There is agreement that we will need to have a couple of prongs of action equally prioritized so as to respond to the diverse needs and interests of our members


A) Advocacy


Discussion as to what this means:

– advocating for FT within a public policy space

– what are we advocating? FT as a sustainable economic model.

– who we are advocating? Municipal gov’ts, universities, workplaces

– what? Procurement and purchasing policies

– are we ready to engage in advocacy on broader trade justice issues?

– it would be difficult for us to lobby businesses: perceived conflict of interest and also difficulty in achieving consensus

– it would be important to have a national campaign

– we should have a platform that is derived from our mission and definition of FT; what is it that we want governments, public institutions to do? What are we asking for in our advocacy work?


Suggestions for next steps:

– survey members to determine what kinds of advocacy campaigns are already underway

– engaging with researchers to determine what work has already been done elsewhere

– undertake diagnostic of where we are and where we can go; ensure we work collaboratively and reflect many voices of FT

– develop platform

– ensure members are informed of findings during this process (listserv, e-newsletters, etc.)


Possible further actions:

– undertaking work to educate folks at CIDA about Fair Trade, bringing independent research that shows impact of Fair Trade

– engaging with Peter Julian’s office on the legislative work that is being undertaking

– addressing tariffs on FT products

– legal recognition of FT


Advocacy Committee:

Darryl Reed, JJ McMurty, Jean-Frédéric Lemay, John Anderson, Zack Gross, Elise Laferrière, Caitlin Peeling



B) Public Engagement



– it could be interesting to undertake public education work targeted specifically at Ottawa as this public overlaps with our federal bureaucracy

– get message out to broader public – advertising campaign?

– we need clear goals around how many Canadians we will succeed in educating about FT, how many will care about FT, and how many will purchase FT products.

– outreach to credit unions with messages about FT

– provide ways to show support for FT, e.g. decals for windows

– larger public engagement, building on NFTWs and WFTD

– connecting with and deliberately including Ten Thousand Villages; there is so much education that happens within Villages stores

– we must address the definition of FT before we can move forward engaging the public with FT

– we need to connect with students

– we need to develop messaging that goes above and beyond driving people towards labels

– develop media contact list and put together media package that would allow us to demand that FT be included in public discourse around trade

– videos or clear narratives that give the story of FT

– good website is what allows you to reach the public


Suggestions for next steps:

–          Develop key consensus-based common message

–          Website

–          Build on existing public engagement moments (NFTWs, WFTD)


Public engagement committee:

Andréanne Leclerc-Marceau, Gyde (Jyde) Shepherd, Carmen Iezzi, Roxanne Cave, Kirsten Daub, Shannon, Jacqueline Solomon, Satya Ramen



Steering Committee


Decision taken to strike an Interim Steering Committee that will

– work with the membership criteria committee to clarify the governance structure

– develop a terms of reference for the steering committee

– clarify a steering committee nomination process for the next general meeting; this process will likely including the striking of a nominating committee that would be responsible for nominating candidates at next general meeting


The interim steering committee will be the governing body until the next general meeting; the committees will be responsible to the interim steering committee until the next general meeting; the interim steering committee will be responsible for calling the next general meeting within a year


Carmen Iezzi (FTF), willing to continue her steering committee participating

Zack Gross (FTM & MCIC) willing to sit on interim steering committee

Equiterre interested but needs to discuss internally to determine who from the organization

Bill Barrett (Planet Bean) interested, but needs approval from his co-members

Jeff Moore (Just Us!) is willing to sit on the interim steering committee pending the approval of his co-op

JJ McMurtry (York University) is willing to sit on the interim steering committee

Elise Laferrière (Equita) is willing to sit on the interim steering committee

Caitlin Peeling (La Siembra) is willing to sit on the interim steering committee as Secretary pending approval of La Siembra

 Sini Maury, needs to know where she will be working and whether that org will be a member, but would be willing to continue to volunteer and support administrative functions

Representative from Ten Thousand Villages (Jacqui or a staff member)


Current members who may continue on steering committee

– Satya Ramen, needs to check with her Board, but feels it would be important to have Maritime representation

– Jacqui, depends, but feels it’s important that Villages be represented and that there is West Coast representation

– Roxanne, needs to check with head office,

– Reykia, needs direction from TransFair Canada board


Next steps:

– initial meeting between past steering committee and interim steering committee, to be called by Carmen

– founding meeting of interim steering committee (after confirmation from potential members who require their organization’s approval) before close of 2008


Steps that must be undertaken before next general meeting

– we need a home (esp. for fiscal agency)

– we need financing; minimum target $30,000 (identify founding members who will provide financial support) and plan for following year’s financing – letters to potential founding members in 2008

– determine whether we need a finance committee

– definition of Fair Trade

– Chair for steering committee

– TOR for steering committee

– nominating committee

– action plan for each thematic committee communicated to interim steering committee by Feb 2009

– clear understanding of organizational structure and membership criteria

– hiring of a part-time staff person

– website & calendar


To be addressed when capacity allows

– regional networks and/or regional communication point people


Bob Thomson willing to support interim steering committee with webmaster support and bookkeeping if it does not become onerous

Jyde willing to support interim steering committee with some web design support



Meeting de-brief


Possible improvements

– round table instead of rows

– greater trust in work at previous meetings and work of steering committee so that we can move even further forward at next meeting

– understanding of consensus as meaning “I can live with this” not “I am in 100% agreement with this”


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