February 8th, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board said Tuesday that it is in conversation with investment partners about exiting passive index fund investments linked to Uyghur slave camps in China.
In a letter to Centre Ice Canadians co-founder and director, Rick Peterson, the CPPIB responded to claims by Hong Kong Watch that linked $14 billion of index fund investments that hold underlying shares of Chinese companies that profit from Uyghur slave camps in China. “We share your view that all companies in which we invest as well as our investment partners, including index fund providers, must consider relevant issues such as human rights in how they conduct their business,” wrote Michel Leduc, global head of public affairs and communications for CPPIB. “Human rights are a longstanding focus area for our organization, and we work with companies in situations where we believe there is an opportunity to bring about change. The issues you have raised are important and I can assure you are currently being discussed with all our investment partners.” This is a significant achievement. Until Centre Ice Canadians raised the issue last November the CPP maintained that funds from contributors are not invested directly in companies that may be tied to human right abuses. In the February 7th letter, the CPPIB made it clear it will no longer shelter behind the “passive investment” cover and will work actively with its partners to filter out or exit targeted companies. “No Canadian wants their retirement funds benefitting from human rights abuses, even indirectly. So this is a huge win for all Canadians,” said Peterson, “and one that shows leadership from the CPPIB in addressing a serious issue that affects many other provincial pension funds.” The Hong Kong Watch report, “Passively Funding Crimes Against Humanity”, alleges similar investments were made by two other federal employee pension funds, as well as six provincial pension funds. “We’re grateful that the CPPIB reached out to meet with us last December,” said Peterson. “They listened carefully to our suggestions and came back with this letter, showing they are taking positive steps to address the issue. They’ve also committed to keeping us updated on developments.” “This shows the power of doing politics differently, engaging with groups and working together towards a pragmatic, non-partisan solution. Getting results is what Centre Ice Canadians is all about.”
Dominic Cardy, Advisory Council Co-Chair