Luncheon with Officials from the Fédération des Caisses Desjardins du Québec
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Lévis, Wednesday, September 21, 2011
It was a great honour for me this morning to follow a long line of governors general before me in becoming an honorary member of Desjardins Group, alongside my wife, Sharon.
There is no doubt that countries all over the world are dealing with difficult financial decisions; and Canada is not immune to these tough economic times. But we can help to ensure that the future of our country is bright by working together to build a better country.
And I believe that is a fundamental reason why Desjardins has been able to succeed and grow for more than a century. It offers a unique opportunity for citizens to have a direct say in how they will grow their business and their community.
Alphonse Desjardins, who understood the importance of having alternatives to big banks, once said that “A credit union is not an ordinary financial concern...it is the expression in the field of economics of a high social ideal.”
This was a unique concept, and still is to a certain extent. To combine the laws of economics with a responsible social model means that Canadians and others around the world are able to grow their small businesses in ways that are most appropriate to their particular circumstance.
Co-operatives are vital to Canada’s future precisely because of their inclusive nature. All of you here today understand this and are working towards a country where all Canadians can achieve success, and with that, a better life for their families, one of the characteristics of a smart and caring nation.
But with you also rests responsibility to all those who have relied on Desjardins over the years. There is an implicit understanding with everyone who opens an account with Desjardins that they will be offered not only superb service, but also financial opportunities that they may not be afforded elsewhere.
For over 100 years, Desjardins has evolved to become one of the premiere financial institutions in this country. The legacy that began with Alphonse Desjardins can now look forward to the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, where this group will no doubt have a role to play. Specifically, I want to leave you with a question: What more can Desjardins Group do to improve our country and our communities?
As you ponder this question, and as you continue to better this country, I wish all of you the very best as you help to build the Canada we desire.