Alistair MacGregor column: Bill to ensure our CPP funds are ethically invested

Would you choose to support global weapons manufacturers?

By Alistair MacGregor

How would you feel if your hard-earned money was helping to run American for-profit prisons and immigration detention centres?

Would you choose to support global weapons manufacturers?

How about big tobacco?

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which invests funds not currently needed to pay CPP beneficiaries, was recently found to have increased its holdings in two private U.S. companies that run American prisons and incarcerate most detained migrants. Many Canadians expressed outrage at this revelation and began to seriously question what other investments were held by our pension fund.

According to documents published last year, the CPPIB also holds tens of millions of dollars in defense contractors like General Dynamics and Raytheon, as well as a $202 million investment in tobacco firm Philip Morris International.

Is this where you want to see your retirement dollars invested?

In February I was pleased to introduce Private Member’s Bill C-431 in the House of Commons, which will amend the investment policies, standards and procedures of the CPPIB to ensure that they are in line with ethical practices and labour, human, and environmental rights’ considerations.

The CPPIB is responsible for investing billions of dollars on behalf of all Canadians. The board invests the assets of the Canada Pension Plan to maximize long-term investment returns without undue risk.

Despite a recent United Nations report showing that urgent changes are needed to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 C, the CPPIB is investing billions of dollars of your pension dollars into the oil and gas sector.

Canadians know time is running out to prevent catastrophic climate change. They want urgent action to address it, and they expect our CPP to be invested accordingly.

Successfully passing this bill will ensure that the CPPIB is bound by statutory rules not to invest in any company or entity that runs contrary to values that Canadians hold dear.

Canadians expect no less.

The Canada Pension Plan is a vital part of our country’s retirement system. However, Canadians expect that the investments which ensure its continued funding are carried out with certain principles in mind. My bill sets out a legislative framework in this spirit and will also continue to ensure Canadians’ CPP investments are still made to maximize returns without undue risk of loss.

I expect that my bill will be up for debate at Second Reading soon in the House of Commons. Details will soon be available on my website (alistairmacgregor.ca) and on my Facebook page in the coming weeks. I look forward to hearing your views on this important issue.

Alistair MacGregor is the NDP Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford

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