Public Pension Plans Should Divest from Corporations Logging Old Growth Forests and Exporting Raw Logs

The logging company being blockaded from logging old growth trees on Cortes Island - Island Timberlands [IT] - is owned directly and indirectly by what have become some of the largest players in the in the investment world, public pension plans and investment boards. Who are the fat cats that own Island Timberlands? Turns out the fat cats are us as Craig McInnes's article in the Vancouver Sun recently explained.

Turns out BC's public servant' pension plans are managed by the B.C. Investment Management Board [bcIMC] who have $92 billion invested on their behalf including a 25% stake in Island Timberlands. Another 25% of IT is owned by the Canada Pension Plan [CPP]. The other 50% is owned by Brookfield, an Bermuda based Corporation not subject to Canadian laws or taxes, of which the CPP and bcIMC are also major owners. So anyone who stands to benefit from the CPP or bcIMC is in effect a part owner of the company trying to log on Cortes Island, cool eh.

David Vipond, Director of Collective Agreements with the BC Government Employees Union, said recently, "The only companies we have ever divested stock from was weapons and antipersonnel mine manufacturers because it was illegal. If people want to challenge the company’s practice, they can propose their own shareholder resolution at the company’s AGM.” Sounds like a great suggestion David. Sounds like if public pensioners organized themselves they could use their ownership in Island Timberlands to leverage change IT's behaviour and, by either divesting in IT or threatening to, stop IT from future logging of old growth forests and stop IT from its current practice of exporting of them as raw logs to US sawmills.

Sounds like Doug Pearce, CEO of bcIMC, would love to hear what BC's public service pensioners think of bcIMC's ethics. Certainly he'd like to hear about how Cortes Islands residents have launched a campaign aimed at the mills which buy SFI-certified raw logs and the retailers which sell the lumber: Home Depot, Lowe’s and ProBuild amongst others.

This is an excellent example of how divestment can be used as an effective tactic within a broader strategy against the corporate extractors plundering our planet. Divestment in this type of ill-gotten gains could cost the divestors, in this case the public pensioners, a small amount in the short term but in the long term their kids and grand kids might still have a live-able planet and be thankful to them for it.