A website by Liz Warren

Dedicated to scrutinizing the governance of our Credit Union, and protecting our

collective wealth from uncooperative self-interest.

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© 2014-2017 Liz Warren. Website last updated March 16, 2017.

Democracy Checklist

Coast Capital Savings Democracy Checklist

The Democracy Checklist gauges the health of the organization’s democracy based on the official rules that it has adopted.

The practices of a good democracy must be mandatory. Otherwise, a future administration might be tempted to adopt a new, less democratic style. This is why each item in the Democracy Checklist must be satisfied explicitly by the organization’s official rules. It’s not good enough to say that the organization “currently does this.”


Coast Capital’s rules satisfy this requirement.

Coast Capital’s rules are contrary to this requirement.

Coast Capital’s rules do not adequately support this requirement.

The score is calculated out of 27 (the total number of items listed in the summary). Each green thumbs-up is worth +1; each red thumbs-down is worth −1.

A negative score indicates that the organization is anti-democratic: the rules actively thwart democracy. A low positive score indicates that the rules are ambivalent: the organization might support democracy or might suppress it. A reasonable goal is a perfect score, indicating that the rules support democratic behaviour. However, even a perfect score does not guarantee perfect behaviour all the time; a perfect score merely ensures that the membership has the means to hold the Board accountable.

The score for Coast Capital Savings is currently −4/27 (as of September 23, 2014).

For a more detailed description of each item, and a justification for the score, see the Coast Capital Savings Democracy Checklist (.pdf).

The Checklist

Guiding Principle: The Board of Directors has a duty to facilitate democratic governance of the co-operative, allowing themselves to be overseen by the membership. That is, they have a duty to keep the membership educated about democratic principles, informed about the co-operative’s business, and empowered to make meaningful decisions when collective decisions are warranted.

1. Democratic Conduct


Each director shall uphold the Guiding Principle of the co-operative’s democracy as a fiduciary duty towards members.


The Board shall undertake to fulfill the Guiding Principle of the co-operative’s democracy.

2. Director Elections


The Board shall inform members about upcoming elections, including how to become a candidate, and how to be an informed voter.


A member’s eligibility as a candidate for director shall not be subject to subjective judgement.


The Board shall recommend candidates (or not) based only on their personal attributes, independent of other candidates. If the Board wants to make voting recommendations to achieve a particular composition of directors, they shall do so as a separate recommendation.


Elections shall be conducted by preferential vote.

3. Member Resolutions


The Board shall inform members about their right to propose resolutions, and the associated procedures and deadlines.


A member’s ability to propose a resolution shall not be subject to subjective judgement.

4. Campaigns


For elections, the Board shall inform candidates about how to make their policy platforms known to other members.


For member resolutions, the Board shall inform members about how to make their supporting statements known to other members.


The Board shall inform whenever it advocates.


Members shall be permitted to seek endorsements and alliances in their campaigns.

5. Voting


Voting shall not start for at least 14 days from the time that members are informed of the available options, and voting shall remain open for at least 14 days.


Members shall be permitted to change their vote prior to the close of voting, when their vote is cast online.


The Board shall not facilitate uninformed voting, including by putting its voting recommendations on the ballot.  


The Board shall not be redundant in communicating its voting recommendations.


Any time they make voting recommendations, the Board shall help members to find information about other members’ opinions.

6. Communication


There shall be an online forum available to the membership year-round, dedicated to the discussion of the business of the co-operative.


For each director election and for each resolution being voted on, members shall be able to see online the Board’s recommendation, and the opinion of every member who wants to express an opinion.


Members shall be permitted to communicate with other members in any way they choose, including during campaigns.

7. Transparency


All information about the co-operative that is available to members, including historical information, shall be made available without impediment. Members shall be given the option to receive notification of changes to such information.


The Board shall allow members to attend board meetings, in person and/or online.


There shall be a publicly specified person or organization where whistleblowers can report problems with the co-operative, that protects the whistleblowers and reports problems to the membership in due course.

8. Further Democratic Conduct


No rule or policy shall prohibit or penalize the civil expression of opinions by any member about matters relating to the co-operative.


To remove a director from office shall require a vote of the membership.


To expel a member from the co-operative shall require that the member be given the option to appeal to a vote of the membership.


When rule changes are proposed relating to the Guiding Principle of the co-operative’s democracy, the board shall disclose the ways in which the power of the membership might be reduced, and each change shall be voted on individually by the membership.

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(3 7) / 27 = 4 / 27