CPP investment in repressive dictatorship cause for concern

Posted By: Friends of the Earth Canada Comments Off on CPP investment in repressive dictatorship cause for concern

London tonight: Friends of the Earth and Canadian Friends of Burma
to press concerns at CPP Investment Board public meeting

(London, Ontario, December 18, 2006) Friends of the Earth-Canada and Canadian Friends of Burma will challenge the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board’s (CPPIB) use of pension fund monies to finance the government of Burma (also known as Myanmar), reputed to be the most vicious and repressive dictatorship in the world. The public meeting will take place tonight from 5 pm to 6:30 pm at the Four Points Hotel, 1150 Wellington Road South in London, Ontario.

CPPIB is a major stockholder in Ivanhoe Mines, registered as a Canadian company holding 50% of the Myanmar Ivanhoe Copper Company — the other 50% is held by the Burma government’s Ministry of Mines.

In a new Friends of the Earth-Canada report, released just prior to the meeting (available at www.foecanada.org), they call on the CPPIB to both divest from Ivanhoe Mines and ensure no other CPPIB investment is made in Burma.

“Canadians, by virtue of their pension funds, are in business with vicious villains,” says Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth-Canada. “CPPIB’s investment in Ivanhoe Mines poses a serious risk to the future pensions belonging to Canadians.”

“We were shocked and dismayed to learn that every week, with the CPP deductions from our pay cheques, we are financing Burma’s repressive regime,” says Mr. Tin Maung Htoo, Executive Director, Canadian Friends of Burma.

CPPIB’s Policy on Responsible Investing states that, “Only companies domiciled in countries with which Canada maintains normal financial, trade and investment relations are eligible for investment” (www.cppib.ca/files/PDF/policies/policies/Responsible_Investing_Policy.pdf). Canada does not maintain normal trade relations with Burma — Burma is on Canada’s Area Control List.

“By not formalizing its stance on Burma, the federal government is negligent. It’s hard to see why the Prime Minister has not seized this opportunity to demonstrate progressive Canadian foreign policy,” says Olivastri. “In its opposition days, Mr. Harper’s party voted in favour of progressive action against Burma’s military regime and in support of the pro-democracy movement. Sadly, this negligence leaves the door open for institutions like the CPPIB to skate around their ethical duty.”

“Ivanhoe Mines’ investment in Burma not only legitimizes the military rule in Burma, but badly tarnishes Canada’s reputation. It is providing the cash-strapped regime with more than $60 million each year,” states Tin Maung Htoo.

Tonight’s CPPIB public meeting is the last in a Canada-wide series.

“Falling Through the Cracks: CPPIB Investment in Burma” is available at www.foecanada.org.

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For more information, contact:

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth, (613) 724-8690 (cell)

Tin Maung Htoo, Canadian Friends of Burma, (613) 297-6835 (cell)

Friends of the Earth-Canada is a voice for the environment, nationally and internationally, working with others to inspire the renewal of our communities and the earth through research, education and advocacy. It is the Canadian member of Friends of the Earth-International, now uniting 70 country FOE groups.

Canadian Friends of Burma is a federally incorporated, national non-governmental organization founded in 1991 which supports the Burma pro-democracy movement in the struggle for peace, democracy, human rights and equality in Burma.

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