TORONTO – The Food Family Credit Union assesses an annual fee to its 2,000 members, but in its newsletter it explained why under the heading “Dues for Democracy.” They said, “Annually we assess the equivalent of 29 cents a week to pay for a variety of services within the credit union system. Included in the $15 being assessed to your account before the end of April are the dues paid for our provincial credit union association, our national association, including assistance for credit union development in third world countries, and our own educational and informational materials. Our associations also help us considerably in the relationship with various levels of government to ensure supportive laws.” Lance Porter, when asked why they felt the need for the explanation, said that although there were no complaints from any of their 2,000 members they did everything possible to distinguish themselves from their competitors. He refused to take credit for the wording, saying that he used John Mackintosh, a 30-year veteran of the credit union movement to write the credit union newsletter where the explanation appeared. He did agree to take credit in hiring Mackintosh. The credit union has a three-person staff. That is not the only way the credit union tries to be democratic. When someone asks the credit union about some product, service or procedure, he and his staff instead look for a way to make it happen if it is at all possible. As a result they have some other innovations. Any member who joins automatically receives a $2,000 policy against accidental death. And although he can’t guarantee it, Porter thinks his credit union is the only one that has a mortgage payment which can be paid down at anytime over the life of the mortgage. The credit union, which services the food industry, has CND$12 (US$10) million in assets. -dlnelson7@hotmail.com