Friday, March 27, 2009

"Therefore be it resolved that we call on the MEC Board of Directors to halt all dealings with Israeli companies..."

"Mountain Equipment Co-op and Israel:
"Divestment Movement Moving to MEC AGM"

"Your Chance to Disinvest our Co-op from Israel"

by Dave Olsen


March 27, 2009

It is rare that a Co-operative's AGM and Board election could be controversial or even interesting, but this year's Mountain Equipment Co-op AGM may well be both. MEC's Board election closes on April 9 (@ noon PDT) and if you're a member, you could heavily influence a self-proclaimed ethical consumer Co-op in terms of its practices in Israel.

An in depth analysis can be found on the PAGE (Peace and Global Educators) website here. But this is a simple issue: Israel is waging genocide against the Palestinian people (if you're not aware of this, you've been either visiting another planet or reading/watching/believing mainstream media). Meanwhile, MEC is doing our Co-operative business with factories in Israel. Partnering is the specific term that MEC's Harvey Chan, Director of Ethical Sourcing uses.

As a reference, apartheid in South Africa was dismantled only when the resistance inside was partnered with economic sanctions. After 60+ years, it is clear that anything less will not force Israel to change its genocidal policies and practices.

I've canvassed the 12 candidates for MEC's Board (3 positions are available). Only 7 took the time to reply since 3 Feb 09. Of those, 4 defend MEC's current position of partnering in Israel. One agrees that this is an issue but stops short of taking a definitive position. Only two, David Caplan (strongly so) and Margie Parikh, are clearly against doing any business with factories or other partners in Israel. I'll be glad to forward their or any other reply upon request.

If you're eligible to vote, I encourage you to do so. Here's my list of candidates, in order:

1. David Caplan (against partnering with Israeli business/co-ops);
2. Margie Parikh (wishy-washy [her words] support of a boycott);
3. Michel Allaire (he "would be happy to look at ways to increase the Canadian content of MEC's inventory or to influence the criteria on which choices are made.").
I will NOT be voting for the following group:
4. Shawn Cleary (doesn't want to punish the workers [in Israel] for the sins of their officials);
5. Bill Gibson ("no problem with MEC buying from factories located in Israel");
6. Anders Ourom wanted to know if I was associated with anyone from and suggested raising this as an issue at the AGM;
7. Sanford Osler belatedly stated that he "will seek to understand this issue better."

All the others couldn't be bothered to reply. You can only vote online with any convenience.

If you're in Vancouver on April 30th, please attend the AGM in person (starts @ 6pm at SFU's Segal School of Business, 500 Granville St downtown) so you can also vote on the following Ordinary (read: non-binding) Resolution, being prepared and soon to be submitted by the Boycott Israel Apartheid Campaign (who have a meeting welcoming new members on Monday, March 23rd @ 7pm;


* Whereas many members have expressed concern over the position of Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) with regard to Israel and "partnering" with Israeli companies,

* And whereas a Feb. 7/2009 statement from Peace and Global Educators ( ) said in part -
"According to communications from Harvey Chan, Director of Ethical Sourcing, MEC 'partners' with factories in Israel. In PAGE's view, this is incompatible with MEC's promotion of itself as an ethical organization. MEC's engagement with Israel is incompatible with its professed concern for both human rights and the environment",

* And whereas South African leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Cabinet Minister Ronnie Kasrils who recently spoke in Vancouver, have not only compared South African apartheid with the system of discrimination by Israel but have said Israel's apartheid system is worse,

* Therefore be it resolved that we call on the MEC Board of Directors to halt all dealings with Israeli companies and to reverse its position on Israel.

Hopefully we can affect this change quickly, otherwise, it will be time to find a different supplier of outdoor gear...