Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has praised his country's co-operative movement for its contribution to Canada's "socio-economic strength".
In a written message that was read out during the live webcast of the January 12 Canadian launch of the International Year of Co-operatives, Prime Minister Harper said:
"The existence of co‐operatives across all sectors of the economy speaks to the influence and relevance of the co‐operative movement. Over 18 million Canadians can count themselves as members of co‐operatives —an impressive statistic with an impact on the nationʹs socio‐economic strength.
By proclaiming the International Year of Co‐operatives, the UN General Assembly has placed a global importance on the co‐operative business model. This year offers opportunities for organizations in Canada and throughout the world to share the benefits of co‐operatives, to promote the founding principles common to co‐operatives worldwide, and to highlight the vital roles that members play in the success of these organizations. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to offer my best wishes for a memorable and successful year."
In addition to the message from Prime Minister Harper, numerous politicians at all levels of government spoke at IYC launch events across Canada. Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, whose riding of Lévis-Bellechase is home to Desjardins, Canada's largest financial co-operative, talked about "the important contribution of co-operatives to Canada's evolution and prosperity."
"While many countries face major social and economic upheavals, Canada can count on the stabilizing effect of co-operatives," Blaney said.
Darrell Dexter, Premier of Nova Scotia, spoke at the launch event in Halifax and expressed his government's support for the province's co-op sector and the International Year.