The toolkit below contains background information about the Canadian Pension Plan’s investments in the military-industrial complex and ways to take action at the upcoming CPPIB public meetings.
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the Military-Industrial Complex
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) manages $421 billion on behalf of over 20 million working and retired Canadians. It is one of the largest pension funds in the world. The CPP is managed by an independent investment manager called CPP Investments, with a mandate to maximise long-term investment returns without undue risk, taking into account the factors that may affect its ability to pay out pensions to Canadians.
Because of its size and influence, how the CPP invests our retirement dollars is a major factor in which industries thrive and which recede in the decades to come. The CPP’s influence not only provides core financial support to global weapons dealers directly benefiting from war, it also provides social licence to the military-industrial complex and disincentivizes moves to peace.
How is the CPP managing controversial investments?
While the CPPIB claims to be dedicated to “the best interests of CPP contributors and beneficiaries,” in reality it is extremely disconnected from the public and operates as a professional investment organisation with a commercial, investment-only mandate.
Many have spoken out in protest of this mandate, directly and indirectly. In October 2018, Global News reported that Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau was questioned (by member of Parliament Charlie Angus) about the “CPPIB’s holdings in a tobacco company, a military weapons manufacturer and firms that run private American prisons.” That article notes, “Morneau replied that the pension manager, which oversees more than $366 billion of CPP’s net assets, lives up to the ‘highest standards of ethics and behaviour.’”
In response, a Canada Pension Plan Investment Board spokesperson replied, “CPPIB’s objective is to seek a maximum rate of return without undue risk of loss. This singular goal means CPPIB does not screen out individual investments based on social, religious, economic or political criteria.”
Pressure to reconsider investments in the military-industrial complex has been mounting. For example, in February 2019, member of Parliament Alistair MacGregor introduced “Private Member’s Bill C-431 in the House of Commons, which will amend the investment policies, standards and procedures of the CPPIB to ensure that they are in line with ethical practices and labour, human, and environmental rights’ considerations.” Following the October 2019 federal election, MacGregor introduced the bill again as Bill C-231.
The Canada Pension Plan invests over $870 million CAD into Global Weapons Dealers
Note: all figures in Canadian Dollars.
CPP currently invests in 9 of the world’s Top 25 arms companies (according to this list). As of March 31 2022, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) has these investments in the top 25 global weapons dealers:
- Lockheed Martin – market value $76 million CAD
- Boeing – market value $70 million CAD
- Northrop Grumman – market value $38 million CAD
- Airbus – market value $441 million CAD
- L3 Harris – market value $27 million CAD
- Honeywell – market value $106 million CAD
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – market value $36 million CAD
- General Electric – market value $70 million CAD
- Thales – market value $6 million CAD
The Impact of Weapons Investments
Civilians pay the price for war while these companies profit. For example, more than 12 million refugees fled Ukraine this year, more than 400,000 civilians have been killed in seven years of war in Yemen, and at least 20 Palestinian children were killed in the West Bank since the start of 2022. Meanwhile, the CPP is invested in weapons companies that are raking in record billions in profits. Canadians who contribute to and benefit from the Canada Pension Plan aren’t winning wars – arms manufacturers are.
For example, Lockheed Martin, the world’s top weapons manufacturer, has seen its stocks increase a shocking 25 percent since the start of the new year. It is no coincidence that Lockheed Martin is also the corporation chosen by the Canadian government as its preferred bidder for a new $19 billion contract for 88 new fighter jets (with nuclear weapon capability) in Canada. Analysed in conjunction with CPP’s $41 million CAD investment, these are just two of several ways that Canada is contributing to Lockheed Martin’s record-breaking profits this year.
World BEYOND War’s Canada Organiser Rachel Small sums up this relationship succinctly: “Just as building pipelines entrenches a future of fossil fuel extraction and climate crisis, the decision to purchase Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jets entrenches a foreign policy for Canada based on a commitment to wage war via warplanes for decades to come.”
CPPIB Public Meetings – October 2022
Every two years, the CPP is required by law to hold free public meetings to consult with Canadians over their management of our shared retirement savings. Fund managers overseeing our $421 billion pension fund are holding ten meetings from October 4th to 28th and are encouraging us to participate and ask questions. Canadians can speak up by registering for these meetings and submitting questions by email and video. This is a chance to call on the CPP to divest from weapons and use our tax dollars to invest in life-affirming sectors instead that represent values of sustainability, community empowerment, racial equity, action on climate, establishment of a renewable energy economy, and more. A list of sample questions to ask the CPP is included below. If you have any additional questions, please contact World BEYOND War Interim Canada Organiser Maya Garfinkel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Act now and attend the CPPIB’s 2022 public meetings to make your voice heard on issues that matter to you: Register here
- Connect with others attending in your city with this form
- If you are not able to attend but would like to submit a question in advance, please email your question to email@example.com or mail written questions to:
- Attention: Public Meetings
One Queen Street East, Suite 2500
Toronto, ON M5C 2W5 Canada
- Attention: Public Meetings
- We encourage you to keep track of your correspondence and forward any reply you may receive from the CPPIB to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Want more information? For more information about the CPPIB and its investments, check out this webinar.
- Interested in climate issues? For more information about CPPIB’s approach to climate risk and investments in fossil fuels, see this briefing note from Shift Action for Pension Wealth and Planet Health.
- Interested in human rights issues? For more information on the CPPIB’s investment in Israeli war crimes check out the Divest from Israeli War Crimes tool kit here.
Sample Questions to ask the Canada Pension Plan about War and the Military-Industrial Complex
- The CPP currently invests in 9 of the world’s top 25 arms companies. Many Canadians, from members of Parliament to ordinary pensioners, have spoken out against the CPP’s investments in weapons manufacturers and military contractors. Will the CPP add a screen to divest its holdings from SIPRI’s list of the top 100 arms companies?
- In 2018, a Canada Pension Plan Investment Board spokesperson stated: “CPPIB’s objective is to seek a maximum rate of return without undue risk of loss. This singular goal means CPPIB does not screen out individual investments based on social, religious, economic or political criteria.” But, in 2019, CPP divested its holdings in private prison companies Geo Group and CoreCivic, key contractors managing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (Ice) detention facilities in the US, after public pressure grew to divest. What was the rationale for divesting these stocks? Would the CPP consider divesting from arms manufacturers?
- In the midst of the climate crisis and a housing crisis in Canada (among other things), why does the CPP continue to invest Canadian tax dollars into weapons companies rather than invest in life-affirming sectors such as a renewable energy economy?