Victory! Vancity divests from Enbridge
"Pipeline boycotts and blockades are just beginning"
Vancity is the first financial institution to quit investing in pipelines, but it won't be the last, a Victoria group promises.
"The pipeline boycotts and blockades are just beginning," said Zoe Blunt, director of Forest Action Network (FAN). "This should be a wake-up call for any company that thinks it can bulldoze its way across BC."
In May 2012, FAN challenged Vancouver City Savings Credit Union to live up to its "sustainable investing" label and divest from Enbridge. A spokesperson for Vancity's board of directors said it began a review of its holdings after shareholder lobbying failed to persuade the pipeline giant to drop the Northern Gateway proposal. The credit union also heard from hundreds of members outraged about the Enbridge investments.
The blockades started months ago. Members of the Unis'tot'en and other clans are refusing access to pipeline surveyors and work crews. On August 6, 2012, FAN delivered a schoolbus full of food, supplies, and activists to a blockade camp hosted by the Unis'tot'en Clan of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation near Houston BC. Over 160 people from as far away as Florida and Illinois spent a week in workshops and training beside a cabin built in the pipelines' path on the Morice River.
"If boycotts don't stop the pipes, blockades might," Blunt notes. Communities all along the pipeline route are organizing against the Enbridge Northern Gateway project and the more imminent Pacific Trail natural gas line, which was approved last April. Enbridge and Pacific Trail share the same route over much of western BC.
In the meantime, Blunt says, "Everyone should tell their bank, credit union, or investment firm to cut their ties to pipeline companies. Tell them why it’s wrong to invest in corporations that destroy watersheds, wildlife, and communities."
Vancity, Enbridge under fire from West Coast environmentalists
A Vancouver Island environmental group has given Vancity Credit Union a deadline to divest from Enbridge, the energy corporation responsible for planning the Northern Gateway pipeline from the Alberta tarsands to the BC coast.
WildCoast.ca, based in Victoria, delivered a letter to the Vancity board of directors at its annual general meeting on May 8, 2012. WildCoast director Zoe Blunt says if the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal is still going forward by year's end, Vancity and the companies it controls must dump their Enbridge stocks or face a backlash from their own shareholders.
According to a Vancity representative, the "socially-responsible" credit union has been "engaging in shareholder activism" at Enbridge's annual meeting. in Toronto. That meeting also heard from indigenous Yinka Dene people who traveled across the country to denounce the pipeline plans.
"If Vancity can't convince Enbridge to stop the pipeline," Blunt says, "Vancity should ditch its stock in Enbridge."
Vancity is not the enemy, Blunt adds. Enbridge is.
"Our non-profit group opened accounts with Vancity because we believed they were socially responsible," Blunt says. "And Vancity may be more responsible than other investment agencies. But for us, and for our allies, Enbridge is a deal-breaker. Northern Gateway, the pipelines and the tankers are our enemies. We won't put our money where it will benefit our enemies."
"These investments are doing more harm than good for Vancity," Blunt says. "From a 'social responsibility' point of view, it's in Vancity's best interest to put pressure on Enbridge, and if that doesn't work, then it should no longer associate with this unethical corporation."