The story is that the Alberta Investment Management Corp. has sold $17.5 million in directly managed stock held by public-sector pension funds and the Alberta Heritage Trust Fund.It also says that this amount is small compared to the $346 million worth of tobacco industry stock held by the BC Investment Management Corporation (BCIMC).
It says in BCIMC's website that "bcIMC is accountable for the corporate governance and environmental and social responsibility activities that we undertake on behalf of our clients." Accountable to whom? In 2008, when Minister of Finance Carole Taylor was questioned about the wisdom of investing BC pension funds in tobacco company, her response was that BCIMC's directors are prohibited from taking direction from government.
In addition to investing in tobacco companies, BCIMC's managers also vote proxies when the annual meetings of those companies come around. They have used these votes to vote against shareholder efforts to require the companies to adopt higher standards of social responsibility. They voted for a resolution that would permit Imperial Tobacco to make donations to political parties. They voted for management-approved candidates for directors, several of whom were involved with Altria and Philip Morris International during the period that these companies were involved in racketeering.
Altria also gave money to candidates in 45 US states (including current presidential candidate Rick Perry), and Philip Morris International gave money to the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. Is it appropriate for the Government of British Columbia to be a party to this?