CPPIB challenged to divest from Chinese firms tied to abuses against Uyghurs

CPPIB challenged to divest from Chinese firms tied to abuses against Uyghurs

OTTAWA — The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is facing pressure to divest from companies allegedly tied to human rights abuses in China.

“I have constituents of mine who’ve come to see me over the past few weeks because they have family members who have been interned,” said Conservative MP Tom Kmiec at the House of Commons finance committee Thursday.

He spoke about the re-education schools, which he referred to as concentration and internment camps, that hold hundreds of thousands of China’s Muslim minority, the Uyghurs.

People sent to the camps do not get a trial or access to a lawyer, according to Amnesty International, which says they can be left in detention for months and it is up to authorities to determine when an individual is transformed.

“This is a major human rights violation of the Uyghur population, the Muslim Uyghur population in China,” said Kmiec.

The CPPIB is invested in two companies — Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd. and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. Ltd. — that are involved in the manufacturing of surveillance equipment used to repress Muslim Uyghurs in Western China, he said.

“They are directly involved in the repression of Muslim Uyghurs in Western China.”

He asked CPPIB to say if they’ve divested from these holdings and if not, called on them to explain why.

CPPIB executive Michel Leduc said that until recently it has been very cost prohibitive to apply an assessment across 10,000 worldwide holdings to check for issues like human rights abuses. The board recently found a tool that it is now using to help it identify red flags among thousands of holdings.

“Those two assets have been red flagged,” said Leduc.

CPPIB reports to the public at regular intervals, much like a public company, he said, and will update its holdings list at year-end once it has made investment decisions, including whether to divest from the red-flagged assets.

Kmiec called it “a very cold answer,” and continued to press the issue later in the session.

“Will you commit to divesting CPPIB funds — the funds that Canadians are paying? Like, all of us here. Every single Canadian is basically paying into these companies and equity stakes to facilitate the oppression and repression of Muslim Uyghurs in Western China for nothing more than their ethnicity and their religion,” he said.

The CPPIB manages hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Canadians’ retirement savings.

Leduc countered that “it can’t be a personal decision,” but the board is committed to taking the issues Kmiec identified very seriously and ensuring they put them into the process of investment decision making.

Kmiec urged the board to make it ”much faster” than the end of year.

“These camps are expanding day to day, week to week, month to month,” he said.

Mark Machin, CPPIB’s CEO, reiterated that the company is aware of the allegations, and noted these are not direct investments, but rather very small ones within indices. The board will put them through the new rigorous process that enables them to check for red flags in these kinds of investments, he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The central zone experienced a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, rising from 454 to 508 active cases over the past 24 hours, with 10 people in hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Alberta government makes request to Canadian Red Cross for field hospitals

The Alberta Government has examined the possibility of needing help from the… Continue reading

Workers were busy getting a tall crane in place Thursday morning for the construction of the new courthouse in downtown Red Deer. The facility will include modern technology and replace the existing courthouse upon completion expected in spring 2023. Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Work on Red Deer Justice Centre progressing

Construction of the new courthouse in downtown Red Deer was visible Thursday… Continue reading

The City of Red Deer is including $1 million in its 2021 operating budget, just in case Westerner Park’s pandemic cancellations continue and it needs more support next year. (Advocate file photo)
Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance responds to a question during a news conference Friday, June 26, 2020 in Ottawa. Vance is ordering his troops to be ready to pick up COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. and Europe on short notice, and prepare to help distribute the doses while responding to floods and other emergencies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence chief says CAF will be ready after ordering COVID-19 vaccine prep last week

OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to… Continue reading

Geoff Neville poses for a photo with his sons Casey, 3, left, and Ryder, 6, in this undated handout photo. Geoff Neville is a rotational worker in Newfoundland and Labrador who works in a mine in Nunavut for 14 days in a row and then gets 14 days off to come home and see his family. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Geoff Neville
‘I’d love to be home:’ N.L. rotational workers facing bullying online

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — As Geoff Neville waited this week in a… Continue reading

Dan Cochrane, senior pastor at CrossRoads Church. Contributed photo
CrossRoads Church closes its doors for two weeks after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

CrossRoads Church made the decision to cancel in-house services for two weeks… Continue reading

Defence lawyer Boris Bytensky, clockwise from top left, father of the accused Vahe Minassian, Justice Anne Malloy, and defendant Alek Minassian are shown during a murder trial conducted via Zoom videoconference, in this courtroom sketch on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. The key witness for the defence in Toronto’s van attack trial is set to testify for the fourth straight day today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Key witness for defence to testify for fourth day in van attack trial

TORONTO — The key witness for the defence in Toronto’s van attack… Continue reading

People take part in a protest called ‘Justice for Joyce’ in Montreal, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, where they demanded justice for Joyce Echaquan and an end to systemic racism. Two months after Echaquan’s death at a Joliette hospital, the head of the regional health authority that runs the hospital, Daniel Castonguay, has been removed from his post. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Head of regional health authority where Indigenous woman died removed from post

MONTREAL — Two months after the death of Joyce Echaquan in a… Continue reading

Signage for the Distress Centre in Calgary, Alta., is shown on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Distress Centre Calgary says suicide-related calls, texts and chats were up 66 per cent in October compared with the same month in 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘Dealing with a lot:’ Suicide crisis calls mount during COVID-19 pandemic

CALGARY — Hannah Storrs has needed to take more breaks than usual… Continue reading

Nancy McInerney, Kevin Martin, Olds Mayor Michael Muzychka, Chelsea Carey and MLA Nathan Cooper pose for a photo during the ticket launch for the Grand Slam of Curling Champions Cup in Olds from April 29 to May 3 in October. The event has been rescheduled for 2022. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Olds misses out on Champions Cup again, event penciled in to return in 2022

They say waiting is the hardest part for curling fans in Central… Continue reading

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council squashes mask bylaw

The bylaw did not make it past first reading, after a 4-3 vote defeated the motion

Mikael Kingsbury, of Canada, trains during the FIS Freestyle World Cup skiing competition Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Park City, Utah. Kingsbury will miss moguls races for the first time in his World Cup career after suffering a back injury in training on Sunday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jeff Swinger
Canadian moguls star Mikael Kingsbury out four to six weeks with back injury

MONTREAL — Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury will miss moguls races for the first… Continue reading

Detail of James Wilson Morrice's "LaPlage."
James Wilson Morrice canvas outperforms at auction with more than million-dollar sale

A canvas by Montreal-born artist James Wilson Morrice exceeded expectations with a… Continue reading

Most Read