Many Pension Funds Profit From Logging Cortes Island's First Growth Forests. Do Yours?

John Woolley, a retired public school teacher here in BC, learned recently that a surprising and unlikely adversary - his own pension funds - were heavily invested in the logging of Cortes Island's first growth timber. Wolley was appalled at the way his pension funds are being invested in the liquidation of private forest lands on Vancouver Island by companies in the portfolio of BC Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC). With the arrival of pension investment shareholders, the major timber players converted themselves into asset liquidation and real estate companies.

Woolley is outraged that the company managing his pension, and those of half a million other British Columbians, has moved aggressively over the last ten years into “destruction of habitat and the devastation of our forests, which is not responsible investing.” bcIMC owns 25 percent of Island Timberlands, 50 percent of TimberWest (the other half is owned by the federal Public Sector Pension Investment Board), and is a major shareholder of a Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) company that owns another 51 percent of Island Timberlands and 49 percent of Western Forest Products.

Woolley says, “This means that virtually every retired teacher, university professor and public servant at all levels of government is unknowingly invested in unsustainable and destructive industrial logging practices that weaken the economy of Vancouver Island and nearby coastal regions.

Not only is bcIMC quietly invested in corporations with nefarious intent, every pension fund, public or private, is actually an investment fund managed, like any corporate entity, to produce maximum profits for their share holders - in this case the pensioners. Sure some funds claim to be more 'green' than others, but a closer look into how 'green' is defined by investment fund managers is a lot like 'seeing how the sausage is made'.

Basically, if you have RRSPs [or 401Ks in the US], if you get interest from a bank account or if you have a pension of any type - you are a shareholder in the Empire and part of the corporate profit structure. In fact the single largest inflow of new money into the shady world of investment funds isn't the rich, it's individual small time folks who undoubtedly have no idea that they are investors in the demise of the very things they cherish most.  As John Woolley says, “We are killing our own local economy and we are doing it to ourselves.”