By Letter to the Editor on December 5, 2019.
It’s worrying when AIMCo appears as a front-page story on The Herald (Nov. 15: “Split with CPP not about efficiency: ex-CEO”), and the story’s title says it all. AIMCo manages most of the investments of most public-sector pension plans in the province, but when the Kenney government began clamouring for having AIMCo take charge of Alberta’s share of CPP assets, and then forced the responsibly managed teachers’ pension plan to have their assets managed by AIMCo, the writing on the wall became manifestly apparent, and has populated several social media feeds recently.
The cause for concern is easy to see: in recent years, investment funds around the world have begun divesting themselves from fossil-fuel holdings, with the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (the Norway “sovereign fund” modelled after the Lougheed Heritage Fund from decades ago) earlier this year dumping investments in firms exploring for oil and gas (The Guardian, May 8). More recently came word that Sweden’s central bank was dumping Alberta government bonds from its holdings (JWN Energy, Nov. 18).
I can only imagine the fevered thinking that must be coming out of the UCP braintrust over these developments, and it’s easy to see what might be coming from the Kenney government. The current legislation overseeing AIMCo allows the Kenney cabinet to reach into AIMCo and interfere with its investment decision-making (and the makeup of its board of directors) and the recently introduced Bill 22 allows the cabinet to limit the proportion of pension investments outside the scope of cabinet meddling.
In short, Kenney’s UCP government seems to be setting the stage for looting pension plans to invest in instruments of its choice (can you say “oil and gas”?), and perhaps even force pension plans to buy Alberta government bonds when such investments might be contrary to sound pension planning. And if Kenney’s UCP government also grabs Albertans’ CPP share of pension monies, it won’t be just public-sector plans that are looted, it’ll be everybody’s pensions being grabbed.
The worst part of all of this, of course, is that pension monies, whether public sector or CPP, aren’t Alberta government monies. They’re the monies we’ve been socking away for decades to provide for ourselves in our senior years.
Odd, isn’t it, that MLA Neudorf in his SACPA address (Lethbridge Herald, Nov. 15, p. A3), didn’t seem to mention this to the assembled audience in defending the UCP-engineered austerity crisis?
Don’t loot our pensions. We’ll notice. And remember.