Because I have been an advocate for more credit union values on credit unions and have served on the boards of directors of both Comox Valley Credit Union and Coastal Community Credit Union CCCU I often have people calling up at this time of year asking who I will be voting for in the election of Coastal Community Credit Union directors.
Well, you would think this a complex issue requiring a lot of explanation but—really—these days I have a very simple rule of thumb that works most of the time for me—I simply look at who is recommended on the CCCU election flyer and make sure I don’t vote for any of those names.
In my analysis this whole recommendation thing is not about credit union values or competency. All I get from reading what little is said is “recommended” means “won’t rock the boat; won’t talk about reforms or rededication to what was once core credit union values; will be cozy with a perceived inner clique that has run CCCU for a very long time. A clique that I fear feels much more at home with big bank values than with the democratic/community values credit unions were founded to serve.
Indeed, when I look at the, CCCU committee generated, short blurbs about the director candidates the only candidates talking about actions to reflect the needs of members and core credit union values seems to be those who do not get recommended. One candidate, who does not get recommended by the inner clique, says he brings skills in things like “client service, advocacy, strategic planning…team cooperation…board performance, oversight and fiscal responsibility…” Definitely makes me wonder what values the recommending committee is looking for.
I tell people who phone me “Your judgment is, at least, as good as mine, just read carefully what is said and—especially—what is not said.
I had one CCCU director, now up for reelection, phone me so I asked what the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, that I was, once delighted to serve on, is up to as I have not heard from it for some time. Well, I didn’t hear from it because—it doesn’t exist anymore! It seems the board no longer values cooperative social responsibility enough to devote energy to considering social and environmental responsibility in any serious way. I asked about actions CCCU is taking to lessen our carbon footprint. Well, “we are using less paper and more electronic record keeping”—was the best he/she could come up with. Wow, that is a little something but ¼ the actions CCCU was contemplating 10 years ago! What I got was the strong feeling that CCCU is simply no longer interested in the kind of community credit union values it once aspired to—values and actions hard to find outside of the province’s most successful credit union—VanCity.
Then I asked a question very important to me: what has CCCU done to acquire an outside auditor that has reputation for impeccable credibility and in line with credit union values? Well, he/she moaned getting ready to hang up on this all too pesky member. Well…well…ah, it’s still KPMG. KPMG!–this is the audit firm that is regularly dragged through Canadian, American courts seeking “one time” suspended sentences for the crooked companies it sets up for clients so they can cheat on the taxes that are supposed to go to funding the common good –the people, communities that credit unions are supposed to serve!
Credit unions were founded on the principle of “people helping people,” so one would expect to see credit unions value things like Cooperation and Democratic Principles and—at least—honestly paying our rightful share of taxes. I didn’t ask because I didn’t really intend to be confrontational—but! I cannot square KPMG with credit union values nor, given the multinational frauds they have engaged, can I understand a credit union relying on them as an external auditor.
My gosh, it is now known (CBC report) that KPMG not only helped clients dodge taxes they also helped clients hide money from potential creditors, “including circumventing the Canadian Divorce Act by ‘protecting’ assets from ex-spouses.”
Yikes! I actually expect higher values than that in my credit union –even a credit union much diminished in its commitment to community. Vote! It really could make a difference.

Norm Reynolds