The Canada Pension Plan controls over $366 Billion dollars on behalf of 20 million Canadians. They’re investing our monthly contributions to make sure we have money at retirement. Naturally, everyone wants them to play it safe when investing that money.
But have you considered exactly what are they investing in?
The Guardian quoted a CPPIB spokesman, saying, “CPPIB’s objective is to seek a maximum rate of return without undue risk of loss. This singular goal means CPPIB does not screen out individual investments based on social, religious, economic or political criteria.”
When I read that I hear warning bells. Do they really mean they will take any lucrative investment, even if it’s an ethical quagmire?
The CPPIB’s own ethics statement is clear:
tldr; only dollars matter; no screening of company ethics, only operations.
What drew my eye is their statement about about “private engagement.” This is the term used for conversations concerning ethical or moral issues with a company they are, or are considering, investing, in. The Board has decided they will never make these conversations public. Nor even acknowledge the conversations even occurred. They are also clear they refuse to bow to public pressure when deciding who and when to engage.
Let’s be real here — the practical effect is that these conversations do not occur. That they could choose to invest into such a morally repugnant enterprise as a for-profit prison says all we need to know about the usefulness of “private engagement.”
So to sum it up, all of the pension monies of millions of Canadians is being invested with absolutely no ethical considerations about how that money will be used.
Are we okay with this?
Can we develop a mechanism to trigger automatic, and public, engagement?