Can’t bank on equality

Metro Scan001

While reporting for Metro Winnipeg I broke this story about the failed Access and Assiniboine credit union merger due, allegedly, to homophobic sentiments from one side. This article ran on the front page of the paper on April 24, 2015.

A Winkler man who voted in the merger of two Manitoba credit unions says he voted against the idea because one credit union supports the gay community.

Donald Cruickshank, who is a voting member of Access Credit Union, said he and others voted against the merger with Assiniboine Credit Union, in part because of their support of Pride Winnipeg and the Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg.

“The Assiniboine Credit Union in past years has supported numerous gay pride or LGBTQ events in Winnipeg and that probably reflects Winnipeg’s values,” said Cruickshank. “But, out here in Winkler that doesn’t represent our values, so that’s really why I voted no and it was a strong vote of no.”

The merger needed a two-thirds majority on both sides to go forward. Ninety-five per cent of Assiniboine members voted in favour of the merger compared to 63 per cent of Access members.

 Prior to the Wednesday night vote, Cruickshank wrote a Facebook post encouraging members to vote against the merger because of Assiniboine’s sponsorship of Rainbow Resource Centre in 2014 and Pride Winnipeg from 2004 to 2009.

Cruikshank said he received a private message that read: “Thanks for your strong and courageous post about the merger and letting people know … I don’t think the Assiniboine Credit Union has the same values as the Access members do.”

Cruickshank, who worked as a Christian minister in Winkler until recently, is aware of the backlash his decision might incur.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of tolerance when Christians want to hold on to their moral values,” said Cruickshank.

Margaret Day, chair of Assiniboine’s board, didn’t comment on Cruickshank’s reasons for voting against, but she said if the merger had gone through its donors would have been kept separate.

“We would keep those decisions community-based locally so members in those communities would determine their donations,” said Day.

A spokesperson for Access Credit Union could not be reached by deadline.

Jonathan Niemczak, president of Pride Winnipeg, said his organization has encountered issues in Southern Manitoba in the past.

“It’s unfortunate that that mindset is still very much present in those communities, but it’s not overly surprising given that it’s a very religious majority,” said Niemczak. “We obviously don’t agree with them but it’s well within their rights to have their own core values and belief systems. We just ask that they keep it in the church and don’t go beyond that.”

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