Feds face pushback for investing pension funds into ‘unethical’ Chinese companies

As of writing, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board continues to invest in companies linked to slave labour. Among them are Longi Green Energy Technology Company Limited ($4 million) and a Communist Party film studio ($7 million) censured for crimes against humanity,

Feds face pushback for investing pension funds into ‘unethical’ Chinese companies
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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The Trudeau Liberals must no longer invest pension dues into companies that abuse human rights or threaten national security, according to a Commons Committee.

A Commons special committee on China tabled a report that questioned holdings in several tech firms by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The report states that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. should face censure for questionable practices in China.

The report, titled The Exposure Of Canadian Investment Funds To Human Rights Violations In The People’s Republic Of Chinacites Sam Goodman, director of policy and advocacy at Hong Kong Watch, who contends Canada could benefit from “a road map of the companies to avoid.” 

As of writing, the CPP investment board continues to invest in companies linked to slave labour. 

They include $4 million in Longi Green Energy Technology Company Limited. Pensioners also invested $7 million into a Communist Party film studio censured by Parliament for crimes against humanity, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

Other questionable holdings include Morgan Stanley Capital International’s Index, the China Index and Emerging Markets Index, according to Benefits Canada.

Since December 13, the special committee has urged the Trudeau Liberals to take action on disqualifying investments into unethical Chinese companies. 

But there are no legislative or regulatory provisions that would prevent investments in companies that are complicit or linked to human rights abuses, said the report. 

It noted the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act tells the investment board to prioritize a "maximum rate of return" on all investments, regardless of ethics.

Michel Leduc, the plan’s global head of communications, earlier testified at the Commons special committee that "human rights are increasingly an investment consideration."

"We are exceedingly cautious," he said. Yet the board lauded their holdings into Chinese firms as "good investments."

Laura Murphy, a professor of human rights and contemporary slavery at Sheffield Hallam University, contended that this is the result of pension boards not investigating each and every investment.

"Investing in companies operating in the Uyghur Region is a serious ethical risk," she testified before the parliamentary committee. "But it’s also a financial risk since these companies have been targeted by government sanctions and international advocacy campaigns."

"No one should be passively invested in the oppression of the Uyghurs," Murphy told MPs.

The special committee made a number of recommendations to quell these investments, including the compiling of a blacklist for future investments. 

The report also recommended greater cooperation with the U.S. and other allies to hold human rights abuses as a larger consideration in investments. It also proposed legislative amendments to crackdown further on slave labour and the removal of their goods from Canadian supply chains.

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