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CPPIB Investments in Companies Involved in Burma

The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is investing in many companies that are connected to Burma. We are especially concerned with some companies investing in Shwe Gas and China-Burma Pipeline Project due to due to serious concerns about human rights abuses connected to the development of the project. These companies are collectively known as the Shwe Consortium. Sign Petition Online

As of March 31, 2011 CPPIB’s Shwe Consortium holdings include:

The Shwe Gas and Burma-China Pipeline Project is one of Burma’s largest extractive industry developments, with the initial investment of over $5 billion and projected earnings of $29 billion over 30 years. While this revenue may appear to benefit the citizens of Burma, in practice oil and gas revenues have been stolen through opaque exchange rate procedures and sent into overseas bank account by the ruling generals and their cronies.

The project involves the extraction and export of natural gas from domestic offshore fields, and the transportation of crude oil (from the Middle East and Africa) via a dual pipeline corridor cutting across Burma from the Bay of Bengal to Southwestern China. The dual-pipeline corridor will cut through 20 townships across Burma, and will directly impact approximately 15,000 people.

In addition to the people who have been forced to move or had their livelihoods disrupted by the construction of project infrastructure, an untold number of people with be directly impacted by militarization of the project area both for security and due to renewed fighting between the Burma Army and ethnic non-state armed groups. Since March 2011, the Burma Army has launched offensives to clear ethnic resistance forces out of resource-rich areas in northern Kachin and Shan states, and the on-going battles have left an estimated 60,000 newly displaced. Thirty-three army battalions are currently deployed along the pipeline corridor, naval patrols guard offshore construction, and a missile complex is being built next to the deep sea port.

There have already been a number of human rights impacts, and serious concerns remain about future human rights abuses related to the Shwe Gas and Pipeline project. Abuses documented thus far include:

CPPIB also invested in the following Canadian companies that have or had direct or indirect business connections and operations in Burma. (The figures are in Canadian dollar amount as March 2007)
  
 Canadian Firms
 TransCanada Corp                           $152 Million
 Ivanhoe Mines                                  $67 Million
 CHC Helicopter                                 $17 Million
 Power Corp                                      $254 Million
  
 Non Canadian Firms (Partial list)
 Total (France)                                  $304 Million
 Chevron (UNOCAL as before)          $263 Million
 Nippon Oil Corp.                               $24 Million
 Sumitomo Mitsui Banking               $127 Million
 Sumitomo Corp.                               $37 Million
 Daewoo International Corp               $3 Million
 Marubeni Corp                                 $14 Million
   
Canadian Firms:


  
Non Canadian Firms (there are more that need to be added to this list)
  

CPP’s connection to Burma implicates millions of working Canadians

By law all working Canadians must pay into the CPP (except workers in Quebec who pay into a separate but similar provincial plan).  The CPP Investment Board was started in 1998 when the federal government decided to invest Canadian workers pension payments on the stock market. The Investment Board operates at an arm’s length from the federal and provincial governments,  the federal government however retains a significant oversight role. 

By law the CPP Investment Board has a fiduciary responsibility to manage the CPP’s huge pool of funds.  It is the firm believe of the Canadian Friends of Burma and our allies that environmental, health and human rights concerns must be taken in to account when the CPP makes decisions as to where our pension money should be invested.  Does it really make financial sense to invest in firms that are engaged in dubious business ventures with military dictatorships that result in severe human rights abuses.   Firms such as UNOCAL and Total have been subject to costly law suits because their projects in Burma have caused gross human rights abuses.

The CPP’s Investment Board does not include anyone with experience in the environmental or human rights fields, instead it is solely comprised of Canadian corporate executives like Dale G. Parker. Mr. Parker served on the board of Talisman Energy throughout the entire period the firm ran a notorious oil project in the south of Sudan. Mr. Parker has served on the CPP’s Investment Board since his appointment in October 1998.  He retired from Talisman’s board in 2006.

According to the rules put forth by the legislation enacted to create the CPP Investment Board, candidates to the board of directors of the CPP Investment Board are supposed to have “ethical character and a commitment to serving the public, preferably with a sensitivity to the public environment in which the CPP operates”. It is hard to understand how an individual who served on the board of Talisman when it went into Sudan and stayed on during the firms entire period of operations in Sudan, could fit any of the above criteria.

The CPP must divest from firms whose activities are causing harm to Burma.

What can we do?

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