Canadas Vampire Pension Plan

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1881 ... August 22, 2019
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Canada’s ‘Vampire’ Pension Plan:
How the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board feeds on some futures to secure others

James K. Rowe and Alexis Shotwell

Wet’suwet’en people have never ceded their land through treaty; like many Indigenous people they continue to practice relations of responsibility with the places and beings that give them life, including protecting them from ecological devastation. In January 2019, the RCMP raided Wet’suwet’en territories to end their blockade of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which is meant to transport fracked gas from northern British Columbia to the west coast. Images of heavily armed RCMP forcibly removing and arresting land protectors in service of a planet-destroying fuel source was a stark reminder of how colonialism still reigns, even in an age of putative reconciliation. Immediately following the RCMP’s invasion, fierce protests powered by Indigenous people and settler allies sprung up across the country demonstrating solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land and water-protectors. Images of these solidarity events gesture toward real decolonization: honouring Indigenous law and governance over their lands.

Many of us who participated in... these events -- whether Indigenous or settler Canadians -- don’t know that we are owners of the very company violating Wet’suwet’en law: TransCanada. We own this company as "beneficiaries" of the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP).

The CPP was first created in 1966. In 1997, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) was established to move the plan toward financial markets. It is now the largest pool of investment capital in Canada, totalling approximately $392-billion. The longstanding goal of the plan is to help secure dignified retirements for Canadians. But as the TransCanada example reveals, the CPPIB values settler futures considerably higher than Indigenous ones. All of us who pay into the plan contribute to this painful continuation of colonial devaluation and dispossession.

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